The dreaded quad, it’s the four-letter word and four-revolution jump that every skater hates; but loves to land. Sure, if you can land it you can rack up quite a few points in your total score, but is it worth the attempt anymore? In the recent years since figure skating has changed its overall system, a great amount of controversy over the subject of the quad has ensued. Under the former 6.0 system that everyone came to love due to its simplicity, a quad was almost necessary to win major titles. However now, this new ISU system that is supposed to make skating “more objective and fair,” heavily penalizes any mistakes that a competitor makes. Many argue that it is better to stick with clean and well-landed triple jumps, rather than risk a perfect program by throwing a not so consistent quad into the mix.
The first quad was attempted back in the late 1970’s, and famed skater Kurt Browning was the first to land a quad in competition in 1988. The 1990’s and early 2000’s saw a huge influx of male figure skaters performing quads in competition. Many of the so-called “greats,” from Elvis Stojko, Michael Weiss, and Timothy Goebel, to Alexei Yagudin and Evgeny Plushenko, were all significant figures in establishing the quad’s presence in modern day figure skating. Women have been a little more shy in attempting these monstrous jumps, with only three recorded as ever landing one, including Surya Bonaly, Sasha Cohen, and Miki Ando.
The presence of quads was growing and there appeared to be no limit to what a figure skater could perform! And then it happened. Elvis Stojko had performed this move so many times and saw such success, but on February 18, 2010, this move worked to no skater’s advantage. Described by Stojko as “the night they killed skating,” Evan Lysacek clinched the Olympic title from Evegny Plushenko without performing a single quad. Lysacek was clean and precise with his triples, while Plushenko performed the big quads, but not with the grace and presence of Lysacek. People were stunned with the significance of this event. No one had won a major men’s title without performing a quad in years! Avid fans and figure skaters alike were arguing at both ends of the spectrum. Some thought, what is this sport coming to? Skaters can perform the bare minimum without pushing their boundaries and still win? While others thought, good for skating, finally it is been scaled back to a competition of artistry and not simply a jumping competition.
No one can be certain where the sport will go from here, not even those that are in the thick of it. However, there has been recent hope by many that the quad will make its comeback with the news that young skater Brandon Mroz has landed the first quad lutz ever to be completed in competition just one month ago. Will quads return as a necessary staple in the men’s freeskate program? Or will they be obliterated due to the fact that they are not required to win championships, or even the Olympics?