Mathematics AA SL
Mathematics AA SL
Sample Internal Assessment
Sample Internal Assessment
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20 mins Read
3,835 Words
3,835 Words

Model of a perfect double axel jump in figure skating

Table of content



Ice skating became my second hobby 2 years ago. I had never ridden professionally and had no trainer, so I learned everything on my own. At some point I started to wonder how to learn specific jumps and figures and I came up with the idea to try to combine one of my favorite subjects - mathematics with ice skating. The main motivation is that maybe by representing the figures with mathematics I will be able to improve the quality of my skating and above all avoid mistakes and I also believe that my research will help me and maybe others to make a "mathematically" perfect double axel. My goal of the research is to check whether the mathematical calculations are reflected in real skating and if so, what is the accuracy of jumps performed by me in relation to the results that I will calculate.

Definition of axel jump

Axel jump is one of the most difficult jumps in ice skating, however, it’s inseparable part of every solo performance. The axel is most commonly performed by: 1. stepping forward on the left foot, outside skate edge; 2. jumping forward off the left foot while the right leg provides momentum by a high knee lift action; 3. initiating rotation with right hip transverse adduction; 4. rotating around the longitudinal axis one and a half revolutions; and 5. landing backwards on the right foot, outside skate edge1 . This means that with a single Axel, the skater must perform 1.5 spins, for comparison, with other skate jumps, the skater usually performs only one spin within a jump. Analogous – in the double Axel, the skater must perform 2.5 spins in the air.

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  • Justification

    Although in skating triple and even one quadruple Axel have been recorded, I decided to choose a double Axel, because it has been performed many more times, which means that my possible measurement errors will be smaller. First part of the research will rely on algebra – finding a proper function to establish a base for a further calculations, and then kinematics and trigonometry will be used to fulfil the aim.


    After calculating the data, I plan to compare it to the data from the performances of mine, despite the prediction being that the biomechanics of jumps performed in natural conditions are not unambiguously similar, there are significant dry jumping parameters that can make a significant difference .The analysis of the double (well-practiced) Axel also allows for an objective examination of the accuracy of the skaters, because a successful jump is not the result of chance.

    Mechanics and parameters.

    During the entire jump, various factors affect its correctness. Table 1. Shows the most important aspects in a given part of the jump.


    - The angle of the take-off (θ)

    -Rotational speed (ω)

    -Horizontal velocity (vx)

    -Vertical velocity (vy)

    -Take-off velocity (vt)


    -Acceleration of vertical (ay)

    and horizontal (ax) movement

    -Rotational speed (ω)

    - Gravity forces (not included in the study)
    Figure 1 - Table On Components Of A Successful Jump

    To mathematically define a jump, it has been divided into three parts, with the first two being the most important - take-off and jump itself. This is due to the fact that during landing, the body is affected by the force of gravity, which, as well as air resistance and the weight of the skater, which will not be taken into account.

    Horizontal velocity


    In ice skating, the speed at take-off has minimal effect on the height of a jump as it is unlikely that much of the horizontal speed is converted into vertical speed. To ensure successful jumps, skaters must time and coordinate their take-off precisely, so that they maintain their speed when launching, and land with the same amount of speed as when they took-off.

    Vertical velocity


    The take-off is crucial in determining the height of the jump, as the vertical speed achieved at the moment of take-off will decide how much time the skater spends in the air. Once the skater has left the ice, there is no way to increase the height of the jump, so the take-off must be as powerful as possible for the best results. The more powerful a jump is, the more time the skater has in the air to complete their rotations. The trajectory of the jump should also be balanced (vy=vx), so they create a perfect parabola shape, (gravity force not included). Most of the power for jumping comes from the leg muscles, especially those in the thighs and buttocks, when they are used to flex the knee and hip joints, however, including this data would result in the outcome not being general, but adequate for people with specific leg strength and body build.

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  • Rotational speed (ω)

    The primary goal of the take-off is to get the skater airborne, but it’s also used to increase the speed of the skater’s rotation to give them enough time to complete the necessary rotations in the air. By pulling in their arms and legs the skater can increase their angular speed, giving them the rotation they need to perform their jumps in the time allotted.

    The angle of the take-off (θ)

    Angle (θ)
    θ ≤ 30
    Give the appearance of skimming the ice with too little height and usually result from taking off with too little vertical speed to achieve significant height.
    θ = 45

    When the vertical and horizontal speeds of a jump are equal the arc of the jump will leave and return to the ice at a 45 degree angle.

    θ ≥ 60
    Give the appearance of impaling the ice and usually result from taking off with too little horizontal speed in the entry, or from the sudden loss of horizontal speed due to a technical error in the takeoff.
    Figure 2 - Table On Influence Of Angle Of The Take-Off On Jump

    Finding a function

    As was mentioned, the perfect jump (vx= vy) creates parabola shape, with two intercepts. There are 2 functions, whose graph is in the shape of a parabola. Table 3 shows the two functions that most accurately show the skater’s trajectory. Functions that have been „split” such as half a circle may also have been included in this study. However, their shape is not similar to the flight trajectory of a skater, so considering them was unnecessary. Coefficients: a, b, c, d,h,k ∈ {R}

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  • Possible functions
    Sine function
    f(x) = a × (sin[b(x + c)] + d)
    Quadratic function

    f(x) = a(x − h)^2 + k

    Figure 3 - Table On Formulas Of Functions That Can Be Used In The Study

    In order to find a function that will be used for further research, graphs of two functions were made (Graph 1.). X-axis stands for the time (t) in seconds and Y-axis stands for vertical displacement s(t) in centimeters. To measure the time of the jump, I watched 24 best jumps of women that performer double Axel jump and calculated the mean duration . The data was collected twice, from the video to reduce possible calculation error. The result was rounded to an integer.


    \(\overline{x}\frac{3 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 2}{24}\)


    \(\overline{x}\) = 2.75


    \(\overline{x}\) ≈ 3


    To make an accurate graph of the functions, it was necessary to find the coordinates of the vertex. Because the x-intercepts are coordinates x1(0,0), x2(3,0) it was possible to find axis of symmetry.


    \(h = \frac{x1+x2}{2}\)


    \(h = \frac{0+3}{2}\)


    h = 1.5 sec

    Figure 4 - Functions - f(x) – quadratic function - g(x) – Sine Function. The Graph Was Done Using ‘Desmos’ Calculator

    These two functions have x-intercepts x1(0,0), x2(3,0) in the domain 0 ≤ x ≤ 3 and vertex V(1.5, 1.5) at the same coordinates. The value k = 1.5 is random, but it does not affect the result since both functions have a vertex at this point. The real second vertex coordinate will be calculated later, because I assumed that the height of the function would be very high and stretched, so the graphic differences between the two functions would not be noticeable. Fitting functions to the same principal coordinates graphically shows the difference between these functions. Various variables will be checked in the study – including the angle and height of the jump. For this purpose, graph with the greatest area of the function should be chosen. The results have been rounded to 3 significant figures. The functions were matched so that the x-intercepts are at the coordinates x1 = (0,0) and x2 = (3,0), have a common axis of symmetry (h = 1.5) and a common height (k = 1.5). This matching allows to explore which function is best suited for the study. Calculation were done with GDC.


    Quadratic function f(x) = −0.68(x 1.5)2 + 1.5 Sine function g(x) = 1.5 sin(1.047x)






    = −6.12 + 9.18 − 0.09


    = 2.97 cm2


    \(1.5 \displaystyle\int (sin(1.047x))dx\)



    \(= 1.5 × 0.95510 ... [−cos(u)]^{ 3.141}_ 0\)


    \(= 1.43266 ... [−cos(u)]^{ 3.141}_ 0\)


    = 1.43266 ... × 1.9(9)




    2.87 cm2


    2.87 cm2 < 2.97 cm2


    The result and the graph clearly show that the quadratic function is more accurate and efficient, so further calculations will be based on this formula.


    To calculate the real second vertex coordinate of the parabola, I calculated the average height of the jump. The data was collected from videos, from official measurements that are displayed on the screen after the jump and were rounded to an integer, as shown in Figure 4.

    Figure 5 - Sample Data Displayed On The Screen After Performing A Jump

    \(\overline{x}=\frac{38× 3+39× 5+42× 5+40× 6+41× 5}{24}\)




    \(\overline{x} ≈ 40 cm\)


    Given that the domain of the function : 0x 3 it can be assumed, that at x = 1.5 skater will reach the highest jump height which is about 40 centimeters. Therefore, x = 1.5 is a turning point, which can be either a local minimum or maximum. Since a is negative and the highest point of the parabola is its vertex, it can be assumed to be a local maximum.


    The next step to calculate the rest of the data is to determine the function that will accurately represent the flight trajectory. Therefore is it’s necessary to go back to the formula for quadratic functions.


    s(t) = a(t h)2 + k


    The calculations made earlier made it possible to determine two variables - h = 1.5 and k = 40.


    s(t) = a(t − 1.5)2 + 40


    To find the coefficient a, I substituted the point (0,0) into the formula above. The result has been rounded to 3 significant figures.


    0 = a(0 1.5)2 + 40


    0 = 2.25a + 40


    2.25a = −40


    a ≈ −17.8


    After performing the calculations, it can be shown that the graph of the function s(t) defining the displacement of the vertical movement with x-intercepts x1(0,0) and x2(0,3) is stretched and its equation is given below.

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  • Figure 6 - Real Values Of Function S(t). The Graph Was Done Using ‘Desmos’ Calculator

    Calculating horizontal velocity


    and vertical velocity


    To calculate horizontal velocity (vx) and vertical velocity (vx), the velocity v(t) has to be calculated. Using the data from the previous calculations, the function s(t) can be derivatived and the result will be the function v(t). Using the previously set turning point, one can visualize how the skater’s speed behaves using a table.

    ] − ∞, 1.5[
    ]1.5, ∞ + [
    Local maximum
    Figure 7 - Table On Tendencies Of Velocity v(t)

    s ′(t) = [−17.8(t 1.5)2 + 40]’


    s′(t) = (−17.8t2 + 53.4t0.05)′


    s′(t) = −35.6t + 53.4


    v(t) = −35.6t + 53.4 cm sec−1


    The next step is to determine the velocity of the take-off, which can be easly found by calculating formula given below:


    v(0) = −35.6×0 + 53.4


    v(0) = 53.4


    v = 53.4 cm sec−1


    Substituting the value 0 into the function comes from the fact that the coordinate (0,0) is understood as take-off point. The calculation of the velocity (v) gives the basis for the calculation of horizontal velocity (vy) and vertical velocity (vx). Graph 3. Shows the relationship between different velocities, that will be used for the study.

    Figure 8 - A Graph Showing The Relationship Between Specific Velocities (vx), (vy) And The Angle Of The Take-off (θ)

    To calculate vertical velocity (vx) and horizontal velocity (vy) formulas given below should be considered.


    vx = vt × sin θ


    vy = vt × cos θ


    In the part 2.4. The angle of the take-off (θ) different outcomes of jumps, depending on the angle of the take-off were analyzed. Considering that the research aims for establishing perfect double Axel model, only one angle will be used for further calculations, θ = 45°.


    vx = 53.4 × sin 45°


    vy = 53.4 × cos 45°


    \(v_x=53.4 ×\frac{\sqrt{}2}{2}\)


    \(v_y=53.4 ×\frac{\sqrt{}2}{2}\)


    vx37.8 cm sec−1


    vy37.8 cm sec−1


    So the assumption, that a perfect jump with an angle of the take-off (θ) = 45° has equal vertical and horizontal velocities is true.

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  • Calculating rotational speed (ω)

    Formula below enables to calculate rotational speed of skater.


    \(ω = \frac{number\ of\ rotations}{time\ of\ the \ jump}\)


    As was said in section 1.2 - Definition of Axel jump, skater must perform 2.5 spins in the air to complete double Axel. Therefore it can be calculated that in the case of a double Axel it is:


    \(ω= \frac{2.5× 2\pi}{3}\)


    \(ω= \frac{5\pi}{3}\)


    ω ≈ 5.20 rad sec−1

    Calculating acceleration axy

    Acceleration is a factor that affects all other key parts of the jump, such as velocity and displacement. It is a necessary part of the jump, because for the skater to reach the maximum height, which is at local maximum (1.5,40), so 40 cm. Acceleration can be calculated from formula given below:


    v′(t) = (−35.6x + 53.4)′


    v′(t) = −35.6 cm sec2


    a(t) = −35.6 cm sec−2


    Although it is possible to enclose mathematical formulas in a jump, the question remains, is it possible to perform this jump with inaccuracy? The calculated parameters will be used to check how close the jump made by an amateur skater (my jump) is close to the perfect one. For better understanding, the markings of the previous parameters remain unchanged, and the parameters of the test jump will be additionally marked with the symbol „T”.

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  • Calculating parameters

    The jump was made on smooth ice, which minimized the influence of external factors. The stopwatch measurements (shown in the Table 5.) allowed the average duration of the jump.

    Stopwatch designation
    Stopwatch 1
    Stopwatch 2
    Stopwatch 3
    Stopwatch 4
    Duration [sec]
    Figure 9 - Table On Time Measured With A Stopwatch

    Since the jump time (Section 3.) has been rounded to an integer, the same treatment will be applied here. Therefore the average duration of the jump is :


    \(\overline{x}r=\frac{2.98 +3.01+3.4+2.84}{4}\)



    \(\overline{x}r=3 \ sec\)


    The duration of the jump is 3 sec, leading to the domain equals the same: 0 < tT < 3, and the hT = 1.5.


    Height of the jump was calculated during the jump, with the use of self-made measuring cup. Thin strings were tied between two vertical, one-meter cones at 3-centimeter intervals. This resulted in a calculation error of up to 3 centimeters. The first string from the top, which remained intact after making it, set the height of the jump of mine. The strings did not pose a threat to health or life, because the blade of the skate and the speed easily cut through them without disturbing the flight. The height of the flight was calculated to be 38 cm, which differs from the ‘perfect’ jump by only 2 cm. Combining the given two parameters, it appears that the local maximum is at point (1.5, 38).


    After substituting these values into the formula of the quadratic function, with the coefficient a preserved, the function determines the flight path of my jump. Therefore:


    s(t)T = −17.8(t − 1.5)2 + 38 cm

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  • Calculating horizontal velocity (vXT) and vertical velocity (vYX)

    The derivative of s(t)T is going to be equal to the velocity v(t)T. Therefore -


    s(t)′T = [−17.8(t 1.5)2 + 38]′




    s(t)T = −35.6t + 53.4


    v(t)T = −35.6t + 53.4 cm sec1


    To find horizontal velocity (vXT) and vertical velocity (vYT) the take-off velocity (vtT) has to be calculated.


    v(0)T = −35.6 × 0 + 53.4


    v(0)T = 53.4 cm sec−1


    Due to the fact that it was not possible to accurately measure the angle of the take-off, it should be assumed that the angle of the breakout is within the domain θT ∈ ]40°, 50°[, since the jump was successful. However, in order to minimize bias, angle θTwas chosen to be 42°, (θT = 42°).


    To calculate vertical velocity (vxT) and horizontal velocity (vyT) formulas given below should be considered.


    vxT = v(0)T sin θT°


    vxT = 53.4 sin 42°


    vxT=53.4 × 0.6691


    vxT 35.7 cm sec −1


    vyT = v(0)T × cos θT°


    vyT = 53.4 × cos 42°


    vyT = 53.4 × 0.7431


    vyT 39.7 cm sec−1


    Even though the difference between the two velocities differed by 2 [cm × sec1] the jump was still performed. Therefore, the rotational speed (ωT) remains the same, as in theoretical model ωT 5.20 rad sec1.

    _Calculating acceleration axyT

    The acceleration of an amateur jump can be found from the formula below -


    v′(t)T = [−35.6t + 53.4]′


    v′(t)T = −35.6 cm sec−2


    v′(t)T = −35.6 cm sec2


    Acceleration of an amateur jump (axyT) turned out be equal to the acceleration (axy) calculated before.


    According to the aim stated, mathematics is reflected in skating. Comparing the amateur jump with the professional jump makes it possible to conclude that the principles of the perfect double Axel cannot be contained only in mathematical formulas, therefore, it can be said that despite the ideal parameters for the jump, deviations from these parameters are allowed, as can be seen on the test jump, where both the jump height and the take-off angle differed from the theoretical values by 2 cm and 3°, respectively.


    Perfect double axel jump in figure skating is a complex mathematical problem that requires careful analysis and modeling. Through this exploration, the quadratic function turned out to be better indicator than sine function, in terms of representing the skater's flight path (s(t) = −17.8(t 1.5)2 + 40 cm) and geometry of the jump has been explored. Creating a mathematical model of the perfect double axel jump insights into the key factors that contribute to a successful jump, such as the angle and velocity of takeoff, the height, rotation of the jump, by choosing appropriate methods that enabled calculation of the jump time (therefore, the domain 0 x 3) and its height (therefore, the local maximum (1.5,40) ).


    In addition, the most rewarding aspect of this investigation was analyzing my double axel jump as a case study. Not only the accuracy of calculations by closely approximating the successful execution of the jump were validated (achieved by rounding all calculated numbers to integers), but there was also the opportunity to examine the shortcomings in jump of mine and identifies areas where I need to pay closer attention.


    Another possibility to conduct research on this topic is to make a comparative analysis of men and women and the factors that are significant in performing the double axel jump. Male athletes tend to have a higher success rate than female ice skaters, and such a proposed extension could make it possible to study the relationship between the genders, and indicate what makes men more successful in skating.

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  • Evaluation

    No consideration of physical forces.
    The jump cannot be studied flawlessly because physical forces act on the individual phases of the jump, which may cause inaccuracies
    Basic physical forces (such as the force of gravity) could be included in the study.
    No consideration of jump technique.
    The correct position of the body during the jump affects each phase of the flight, so that the flight path will be different for each skater.
    Techniques used in jumping (such as correct knee flexion, hip rotation) may have been used.
    No consideration of all genders.
    Men's and women's skating differ from each other, so study can be inaccurate for men.
    Study could include calculations for a jump performed by a man.
    A small number of research trials (24)
    The small number of theoretical research objects may have influenced the determination of the inaccurate domain of the function
    Finding more professional jumping records by contacting the relevant institutions.
    Figure 10 - Table On Limitations Of The Study
    Repetition of data.
    Multiple counting of jumping time minimized measurement errors.
    Using official data.
    Using official data minimized measurement errors.
    Use of skating skills.
    It made it possible to check whether the given theoretical formulas, created from professional jumps, have their mapping among amateurs, what can inspire them.
    Figure 11 - Table On Strengths Of The Study


    Blazok, Laura, "The Biomechical Analysis of the Kinetics and Kinematics for Three Figure Skating Jumps" (2001). Masters Theses. 3376. ACCESSED: 20.01.2023 from


    Eurosport Polska. (2022, February 17). Anna Szczerbakowa MISTRZYNIĄ OLIMPIJSKĄ w rywalizacji solistek | Pekin 2022 [Video]. YouTube. ACCESSED: 21.01.2023 from:


    Mazurkiewicz, A. (2015, September). Biomechanics of figure skating jump double axcel performer in on ice and off ice conditions. ACCESSED: March 24, 2023, from


    The Electronic Magazine of Competitive Ice Skating. (n.d.). Mechanics of Jumping. ACCESED: March 11, 2023, from


    1TvDance. (2019, September 25). [VIDEO] Top-50 Double Axel Among Women (2A). YouTube. ACCESSED: January 23, 2023, from NIx2UxotQ&

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