does yuzu have a different technique for the salchow? or does it just look different on a quad? he doesn't seem to have that distinct / \ shape to his legs on takeoff or is there different ways to do it? sorry I'm a bit of a noob when it comes to jumps 😅
Nah, his Salchow technique is pretty standard, insofar as anything Yuzuru Hanyu performs on the ice can ever be called standard. He does pull his knees together to form that distinct / \ shape before launch, only it’s rather hard to notice in real time because he is ridiculously fast at it (which, incidentally, is a statement that is applicable to the majority of things he does on ice). See below a slow-mo comparison with one of Javi’s Salchows, note the way Javi took a fraction of a second more to bring his knees in and snap into the takeoff:
The thing with Yuzu’s jumps is that he relies almost exclusively on entry speed for momentum and lower body to initiate rotation. His upper body is very relaxed throughout the duration of his jump and only adds real value during the rotation phase via aerodynamics, i.e. when he pulls his arms in to reduce moment of inertia and thus increase rotational speed. That is why his jumps always give off that vibe of effortlessness and appear to materialize out of nowhere. This is not the case for many other skaters, whom you’d see using, to a greater extent, their arms and shoulders to kick-start their rotation and give their takeoff an extra boost of angular momentum.
Top 6 comparison again for reference, this time with the quad toe, recycled from an old post because I’m too lazy to go out in search of different footage. Note the way everyone except Yuzu visibly tightened their upper body and twisted their shoulder before takeoff, while Yuzu mostly just straightened out his arms to align them in the rotational direction.
But well, don’t be too harsh in using Yuzuru as a yardstick for the rest of the circuit, because while his light and airy jumps do demonstrate the highest level of technical excellence, a not insignificant part of the reason why he’s able to jump that way has to do with his physique. Quote Kurt Browning: “he was built to spin in the air”, quote Carol Lane: “he is almost the perfectly designed figure skating machine”. They were not kidding, I tell you. You can’t jump the way Yuzu does without immense strength concentrated in your legs, golden-ratio-ish leg-to-torso proportion, great flexibility in your muscles, AND a light, aerodynamically ideal body frame overall. Basically, let’s take a moment to appreciate how incredibly fortunate we are that, out of the many things he could easily become in life with his intelligence, his charisma, his drive, and his angelic face, this extraordinary human being named Yuzuru Hanyu has chosen, against all odds, to become a figure skater :)
the best quality of skating each of the top 6 men possess?
Ok I’m going to interpret this as the thing that they, personally, do best out of everything they can do. Doesn’t necessarily mean they do this better than the rest of the field. Ordered by current ISU World Standings:
Nathan: jumps. Right now the highlight of his programs is the sheer number of quads he puts in.
Boyang: also jumps. In addition to jumps though, over the course of last season Boyang has turned into quite the entertainer on ice.
Patrick: skating skills out of this world. Patrick’s skating is always a masterclass in turns, steps, edges and curves.
Javier: charisma and charm. Whether you are partial to his technical execution or not, it’s almost impossible not to be riveted while watching Javi perform.
Shoma: projection and expression. His skating fills the ice and he connects really well with the audience.
Yuzuru: musicality. Feel free to contradict me on this :) It’s a tough call to make because Yuzu is such a well-rounded skater. What I’m going with here is the one quality which I think encompasses all aspects of his skating: the way he takes complete ownership of a piece of music and brings it to life with his skate.