Ice Network

My first time, part 3: Still more on-ice breakthroughs

Zhangs land throw quad after 50-plus tries; Aaron hears sirens after quads
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Although their most famous attempt resulted in a painful fall at the 2006 Torino Olympics, Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang did land the throw quad salchow a number of times in competition. -Getty Images

Fabian Bourzat: Salto ("backflip") lift

Since Nathalie [Péchalat] told you about our "Candel" (or "upside-down") lift, I would like to talk about our salto (or "backflip") lift, which we performed during our Latin short dance back in 2012.

I had dreamed of performing that trick for quite some time. Kader Belmoktar, who choreographed our 2010 "Time" free dance, had introduced it to us. We had included it at the end of our free dance back then, but in the end, we had to leave it out. That program was far too exhausting, and we were just too tired at the end to add yet another backflip!

We decided to include it again in our Latin short dance two seasons later. The dance was much shorter, and we were physically more fit. We wanted to end our dance with a strong element that would draw "whoas" from the audience and be counted as a choreographic lift. It was quite demanding!

It took us two days off the ice to master the backflip lift, and then we started doing it on the ice. Nathalie does not lift me, actually; she just acts like my own axis of rotation, and shows me on which plane I should rotate.

I had always wanted to try a backflip on the ice, but I didn't want to fall flat on my nose in a competitive season, so I never tried it by myself!

I must say that the salto lift was never really properly valued, however, just like many things we did. Ice dance definitely needs to value creativity more!

-- As told to Jean-Christophe Berlot

Brian Joubert: Quad

During French nationals, at the end of 2000, I set a target to myself: I wanted to finish in the top seven at my first senior event.

The championships were held in Briançon, in the French Alps. I had not eaten the whole day of the free program. The six-minute warmup was great; the program itself was a complete disaster. I had never experienced such a catastrophe, and I never experienced one like it afterward. I ended in 14th place, so far from that seventh place I was battling for.

Still, the French federation officials supported me and tried to cheer me up afterward. The next day, for some reason, I was asked to participate in the final gala, even though my ranking was so low. One of my good skating friends, Vincent Restencourt, had just won the bronze medal. In the middle of the gala, he told me, "Let's go! We're going to do a quad toe together!" Vincent had been the first French male skater to ever land a quad toe in a competition.

I stared at him and told him, "You're crazy! That's impossible. I don't even practice it at home!"

He finally convinced me. That day I landed my first quad, which I had never even tried before. I even landed it three times in a row, as the French officials wanted me to try again and again. Then I was asked to try a quad flip, just to check. I nearly landed it.

I had failed so badly at the championship, but I was able to land [the quad] the very next day. That day may have been an eye-opener for many in attendance in Briançon, including myself!

-- As told to Jean-Christophe Berlot

Kimmie Meissner: Triple axel in competition (2005 U.S. Championships)

I can remember the feeling of doing it and it felt really clean, really crisp. It was just quick. I remember the crowd going wild. I don't think people expected it. I remember when I did it in practices and warmup, and people being loud about it then. It had been pretty consistent in practices leading up to nationals. I was landing most of them. That's why I was able to put it in the program. The one I did in the program probably was the worst one I had done all week.

-- As told to Amy Rosewater

Max Aaron: Two quads in a free skate (2013 U.S. Championships)

I remember the noise (after the first one). I remember it being very loud. I know right away if I am going to land [a jump] right from the takeoff; I know right away if the jump will just fly -- and I knew right away it was going to fly. I was eighth at nationals the year before, and I don't think anyone was expecting anything like that from me -- no one knew what Max Aaron could do. I remember getting a little smirk after I landed the first one because of that. I could hear the crowd's reaction and I thought, "Wow, I really shocked them." It's kind of like my hockey days and the sirens go off (after a goal is scored). After I landed the second one, I thought it was like the sirens went off again. It's just a big deal. At the time, it was unreal. You imagine what it would be like, and it's even better -- it's that times 20.

-- As told to Amy Rosewater

Hao Zhang: Throw quad salchow with Dan Zhang

It was more than 10 years ago that we first tried the throw quad. We were young, technically strong and courageous, so there wasn't much hesitation when we decided to go for it. 

Compared to throw triple jumps, it required almost double the strength from me to throw her, [and it was] especially demanding to the muscles of my waist and arms. Sometimes, the strength was so big that when I was throwing her, I felt like I was throwing myself too, and then I fell as well. Therefore, when we started to practice throw quad, I started strength training exercise too.

Although we fell a lot, we didn't think the process was that tough. We were usually trying three or four times a day, five times at most. I remember we finally made it after more than 50 trials. Everyone, including our coach, was very excited.

-- As told to Wei Xiong

Hao Zhang: Quad twist with Cheng Peng

The quad twist wasn't hard at all for both of us. I used to do it with Dan Zhang, so I know very well about the techniques. As for Cheng Peng, although she was young when we paired up for the first time, she had built a very strong technical foundation, so it was relatively easy for us to do the quad twist. We actually made it at our very first trial without any problem.

-- As told to Wei Xiong

Adian Pitkeev: Triple axel and quad

I remember how I performed the triple axel for the first time. I was 13 years old and I remember that no one noticed when I did it at one of my training sessions. I had to repeat it, and I did it again. The coaches were happy; I was too.

There is a different story with a quad. I remember when I did it for the first time, one of my coaches, Sergei Dudakov, shouted very loudly, "Daaaaa!" ("Yes" in Russian).

-- As told to Vladislav Luchianov