RESTON, Va. — Nicknamed the "Quad God," Ilia Malinin from Northern Virginia is the first and only skater to land a quadruple axel in competition.
“I’m still shocked sitting here. It doesn’t feel real that what I did in Lake Placid is actually what happened," said Malinin.
It was during his skate at the U.S. Classic in Lake Placid, New York in September, when Malinin went for the quadruple axel for the first in competition and landed it.
"When I landed it, I'll be completely honest, it wasn't the landing I was looking for because I'm really picky on those little things. But, I mean, I get that it's a world's first so I can't really be that disappointed about that," said Malinin.
At 17 years old, Malinin became the first in figure skating history to land a quad axel in competition, and it's a moment he's still trying to let sink in. "I'm still trying to take in the fact that I can even land it in practice," joked Malinin.
For four hours a day, six days a week, Malinin is practicing on the ice at SkateQuest in Reston, Virginia, coached by two Olympians, Tatiana and Roman, who also happen to be his parents.
“I’m very grateful that they became coaches,” said Malinin.
When his parents competed in the Olympics, they skated for Uzbekistan, but have raised Malinin in Virginia, and he has dreams of skating for Team USA in 2026.
“I've been dreaming about being in the Olympics for a while now. It's a childhood dream of mine, especially since my parents are Olympians, two-time Olympians, so I hope to continue that family tradition,” said Malinin.
Malinin is a high school senior at George C. Marshall. He goes to school every morning and skates every afternoon. Traveling for competitions can be challenging with his studies, but his teachers are understanding of his unconventional extracurricular activities.
"I always let my teachers know when I'm leaving or when I can't do work," Malinin said. "They've been pretty lenient with all of it, and they are always like, 'If you need any help or extension on a due date,' they are always happy to work with me."
Since he first landed the quad axel at the U.S. Classic, he's done it again at the 2022 Skate America competition last month. Now, he's working toward a quintuple axel.
“Since I’ve landed the quad axel, I feel like it’s possible to do quint. So I think now is to focus on myself actually doing most of the work on the pole harness, instead of my dad lifting me up in the air and I’m just spinning around," said Malinin.
When he practices those jumps, he begins to perfect his craft while attached to a pole harness that his father controls.
For Malinin, practice does make perfect, or at least it makes history. While his biggest goal ahead is to make the 2026 Olympic team, Malinin says his first goal is to graduate high school in 2023.