The axel is a figure skating jump with a forward take off. It is named after Norwegian figure skater Axel Paulsen who, in 1882, was the first skater to perform the jump [cruciverbalists will long ago have learned that this is why it's not spelled "axle."]More at Wikipedia (and daily during coverage of the Olympics)
The axel jump is considered the most technically difficult jump among six types of jumps in single figure skating. According to ISU judging system, a triple axel jump has a base value of 8.5 points, while a double axel has that of 3.3 points. This makes a triple axel the highest base-valued triple jump, above other triple jumps such as the triple lutz (6 points), triple flip (5.3 points), triple loop (5.1 points), triple salchow (4.2 points), and triple toe loop (4.1 points).