American teenager Ilia Malinin landed the second quadruple axel ever in competition without flinching on Saturday.
Competing at Skate America, the historic 17-year-old free skater won the gold medal in his senior Grand Prix debut, becoming the youngest men’s champion in the event’s history.
Last month, Malinin became the first person to complete a quadruple axel in competition at the U.S. International Figure Skating Championships, a lower-level event.
But even so, she wasn’t sure if she could incorporate figure skating’s most difficult move into her free skate routine at Skate America.
“This morning I wasn’t sure if I was going to try,” Malinin told NBC afterward. “But I think it occurred to me that everyone is watching, I have to go to this and I went and I landed. I’m still shocked.
“The whole building was screaming for at least a couple of seconds after that, I didn’t know if the music was still playing or not.”
Even some of the sport’s most decorated stars have been unable to land a four-axis, which requires four and a half revolutions in the air to go from a forward takeoff to a backward landing. For 44 years, the triple jump was locked.
Double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu said before the 2022 Beijing Olympics that landing the quadruple axel was his biggest motivation, but when he attempted it at the Games, he fell a little short and fell.
Meanwhile, reigning Olympic champion Nathan Chen has successfully landed all other types of quadruple jumps except ax.
And so, when Malinin – the junior world champion – landed a jump that had eluded so many before her, it marked a remarkable moment in the history of figure skating.
“I was surprised, I didn’t know I did that!” he added. “I’m surprised at myself that I was able to pull it off. Even now I am at a loss for words. I don’t know what to say about that. I didn’t know I could do that.’