Takeoff edges

One feature that differentiates jumps in figure skating is the takeoff edge. Jumps can start on any edge, but nearly all finish on the backward outside edge. The flip, for example, begins on a backward inside edge. In contrast, the Lutz takeoff is on a backward outside edge. These two jumps are otherwise identical: a skater rotating counterclockwise in the air begins both on the left foot, applies the right toe pick for leverage, rotates in the air, and lands on the right backward outside edge.

The difference between them is the takeoff edge. Many skaters have trouble taking off from the backward outside edge on a Lutz because it travels counter to the direction of rotation in the air. As a result, some cheating goes on: skaters tend to drop over to the backward inside edge on the takeoff and do flips instead. This is called “Flutzing” and is a serious problem, even among high-level skaters. Some skaters tend to do the opposite, pulling their flip takeoffs onto the outside edge. To encourage skaters to take off from the correct edges, judges crack down on both errors at low levels.

The importance of differentiating between these two jumps makes it very odd that two other jumps with the same difference are not differentiated between. These are the toe loop and the toe Walley. In a toe loop, our counterclockwise skater begins on a right backward outside edge, applies the left toe pick, rotates in the air, and lands on a right backward outside edge. In a toe Walley, the process is the same, except the first edge is a right backward inside edge—counter to the direction of in-air rotation.

Unlike flip and Lutz, these two jumps have fallen together. Skaters talk about doing a “double toe” without mentioning which double toe (loop or Walley). This generalization is also reflected in competitions: Under “Technical Requirements,” the USFS Rulebook notes that the two jumps are not considered different:

“Because the triple toe loop and the triple toe Walley jumps are very similar in nature and equal in value, the skater may execute only one or the other of them but not both.” (146)
Why is the takeoff edge important in one case but not the other?