This season, Patrick Chan will be including a quad in his short and long programs – which combined with his spectacular choreography should garner him the accolades that have alluded him – namely a world championship gold medal.
Quadruple-jumps are not a new concept. It wasn’t until the early 1980s when the race for the first landed quad began.
Russia’s Alexander Fadeev had the first document rotation of the quad at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. To the untrained eye it looks like a textbook quad, however, Fadeev toepicks inside the circle, meaning when he turns backward he too far to the right. He completes the rotations of the jump on the ice.
Jozef Sabovcik of Bratislava, Czechoslovakia is nicknamed “Jumping Joe” for a reason. His jumps were so explosive, it were as though a landmine had exploded underneath him and propelled him into the air.
At the 1986 Europeans in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sabovcik landed what appeared to be the first quad. However, upon further review by the judges, it was deemed he touched down with his free leg. No credit would be given for his feat.
There is footage of Sabovcik and Brian Orser both landing quads in practice.
Why Orser never included a quad in his programs in unknown, however, his main rival, Brian Boitano did for the 1986/87 competitive season. At the Worlds in Cincinnati, Ohio, he attempted the quad unsuccessfully, and left door open for Orser to walk through to take the title. Boitano attempted the quad again in his long program in Budapest, Hungry. It was unsuccessful, but oh, so close!
The first quad belongs to Canada’s Kurt Browning. At the 1988 World Championships in Budapest, he accomplished the jump that had eluded so many. Despite the fact he had a slight three-turn on the end, the jump was fully rotated and landed cleanly on one foot. The next year in Paris, France when Browning won his first of four World Championship titles, he fully rotated the quad, although he two-footed the landing.
Other Canadians have had their share of firsts in world competition. Donald Jackson landed the first Lutz in 1960; first triple jump – salchow – by a female by Petra Burka in 1965; first triple Axel by Vern Taylor in 1978; and first quad-combo by Elvis Stojko.
It keeps the sport exciting and ever changing.
And you can’t skate away from change.