Men don't flutz--not much, anyway.
Flutzing, for those new to figure skating, occurs when a skater plans a lutz jump but takes off on the wrong edge of the blade. Technically, that turns the jump into a flip or a hybrid of "flip" and "lutz"--a flutz.
Flutzing is difficult for a casual viewer to discern, but it is instantly recognizable to skating purists.
The lutz is probably the easiest jump to identify: It's the one skaters usually launch after a long approach, a look over the shoulder to be sure there's room to jump, turn and land, and a noticeable dig into the ice with the toe pick. The takeoff is from the back outside edge of one blade, and the landing is supposed to be on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.
However, some skaters cheat and instead take off from the back inside edge of the blade. That takeoff makes the jump a flip, which is less difficult because the entry curve of the flip and the direction of the spin in the air are the same. In the lutz, there's a reversal of direction from the entry curve into the spin.
Sarah Hughes, the third-place finisher at last month's U.S. championships, undoubtedly lost points for technique in her short program because she flutzed. However, she appears to have corrected her flawed takeoff in time for the Winter Games.
Flutzing is fairly common among female skaters yet is almost never seen among men. Probably the key reason female skaters are prone to flutzing is physiology: Men are simply more muscular, and that helps them stay on the outside edge on the takeoff of a lutz and avoid the tendency to lean toward the inside edge and flutz.
"When you go into a jump, you use upper-body strength to gather momentum and to spin," said Gerri Walbert, editor of the figure skating publication Blades on Ice and a longtime figure skating observer. "You use your shoulders to uplift as you pull in your arms. Men have the strength to do that, and women don't."