100 years of Lutz jump

Alois Lutz

By Olga Fluegge

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Lutz jump.

“An obscure Austrian skater of 1920-s”, James R. Hines writes about Alois Lutz in “Historical Dictionary of Figure Skating”.

In reality we don’t know much about him. Alois was born in 1898 in Vienna, a capital of world figure skating in those times.

As a young skater and hockey player, he used to skate at “Kunsteisbahn Engelmann”, a famous ice rink in his hometown. The new Lutz jump, which he introduced 1913 in a competition, was named after him.

It was the first jump with using of toe pick. The skater typically performs a long glide on a left backward outside edge in a wide arc into the corner of the rink. Just prior to jumping, the skater reaches back with the right arm and the right foot and uses the right toe pick to vault into the air, before performing a full turn in the air and landing on the right back outside edge. In addition to the standard entry described above, it has become common for skaters to do a Lutz from a footwork entry.

The Lutz jump is very similar to the flip and the two jumps can be hard for the novice viewer to tell apart. The flip is initiated on the inside edge on a curve that has the same sense as the jump’s rotation. The Lutz is initiated on the same foot, but on an outside edge.

The Lutz is considered one of the most difficult jumps because its entry is counterrotated — that is, the rotation of the jump is opposite to that of the entry edge. The body’s natural impulse is to “cheat” or begin to pre-rotate the jump by veering off at the last minute onto the inside edge, which really makes the cheated jump a flip. For this reason, the cheated Lutz is often called a flutz. On the other hand, skaters with excellent Lutz technique will actually deepen the outside edge as they reach back for the pick.

Alois Lutz himself could not show this jump in international competitions because he never competed internationally. He had never won medals at Austrian Nationals, we could not even tell whether he competed there. He died very young, at the age of 19 from pneumonia. Lutz is the last jump, in a row of others, which is named after his inventor.

Long time this jump was a highest level of difficulty in figure skating. Alena Vrzáňová of Czechoslovakia was the first woman credited with a double Lutz, performed at the 1949 World Championships.

In 1962 a Canadian World Champion Donald Jackson was the first man to execute a triple Lutz. In 80s the execution of the jump underwent a modification: an American Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic Champion, did it with one arm overhead. This is what we call “Tano Lutz”.

The “Rippon Lutz”, with two arms raised above the head, was introduced in 2009 by another young American Adam Rippon and became his signature move.

In present ladies’ skating, jumping combinations with a triple Lutz are indicative of the high technical level of athletes.

Photo: Skating Domo

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