Takeoff kinematics of axel jumps were determined from a spatial analysis of singles and doubles performed by 16 figure skaters. The takeoff was divided into glide, transition, and pivot phases. During the glide, horizontal speed remained constant, vertical velocity was slightly negative, and over half the angular momentum for flight was generated. In the transition, skaters gained considerable vertical velocity from tangential motion by rotating about the long axis of the blade. Initially this reduced the angle of the support leg with respect to the vertical while the blade ran in the direction of progression. Most skaters continued to gain vertical velocity by angling the blade to the direction of progression (skidding) and rotating up and forward, still about the blade's long axis. There was little angular momentum gain, and forward speed decreased significantly. In the pivot, skaters rocked forward onto the toe picks losing horizontal speed, vertical velocity, and angular momentum.