10 Best Moments in Olympic Figure Skating History

It’s one of the most beautiful, exhilarating, and difficult sports, and the 10 best moments in Olympic figure skating history may be among the best moments in sports history. Figure skating may appear to be more show than sport, but don’t let the sequined costumes, and hysterical tears fool you. Launching skyward from the point of a skate, rotating around in mid air and still managing to land on a centimeter of, well…steel is no easy feat.

  1. What Would Brian Boitano Do? In 1988, two world champions would meet in “the Battle of the Brains.” American skater Boitano faced off with Canadian Brian Orser and the two were tied at the conclusion of the short program. Boitano pulled out a flawless performance to defeat Orser. An unprecedented eight triple jumps paved the way for his triumph.

  2. Ice Dancing? Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean made the world take notice of ice dancing at the 1984 Olympics. Two became one for a brief moment, as the pair skated in perfect synchronization. They received 12 perfect scores, to this day the highest of all time for a single performance.

  3. Consistency. In 1984 Scott Hamilton nabbed Olympic gold after four years of undefeated skating. Though not as electrifying as some of his competitors routines, his performance was consistent and raw.

  4. Repeat. That same year, Katarina Witt beat the World Champion, by a fraction of a point. It was her personality, energy, and adorable costume and that gave her the victory, and four years later she would defend her Olympic gold, a feat only accomplished once before.

  5. One last gold. Real life lovers Sergei Grinkov and Ekaterina Gordeeva had been skating together since youth, and their romance translated perfectly on the ice. Though they had won before, it was their return to the Olympics in 1994 that would be their most memorable performance. Though they had incredible speed and height, it was their passion for each other that would secure them their second gold medal. It would also be their last major competition. Grinkov died suddenly a year later of a massive heart attack.

  6. Come from behind victory. In 2002 Sarah Hughes landed a breathtaking long program of complex jumps and spins to come from fourth place and take the gold after the skaters in front of her made costly mistakes. Her performance was intoxicating, and though she was a long shot to even place, Hughes' victory over Michelle Kwan was definitely one of best moments in Olympic figure skating history.

  7. Stunning upset. Her short program was enchanting, her long program was magical. To this day she is the youngest individual to strike gold in the winter, and she won it all on attitude, energy, and with the help of a few spectacular triples. With a flawless technique, and majestic speed, Tara Lipinski pulled out one of the most impressive victories in Olympic Figure Skating History when she upset teammate Michelle Kwan for the Olympic gold in 1998.

  8. Speedy recovery. Tanya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan duked it out in the 1994 Figure Skating Championships. Kerrigan amazingly pulled through in time for the Olympics and skated a breathtaking performance to secure the silver medal behind heavyweight Oksana Baiul. Harding fell during her routine and failed to place, though her attack did secure her an infamous spot in figure skating history.

  9. Blame France? At the 2002 games, Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier went into their final performance in second behind Russia’s Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze. Sale and Pelletier responded with a flawless long program and felt sure of their victory when Russia made an obvious mistake. But Russia won gold. Experts and fans alike were flabbergasted by the decision until the French judge confessed that she had been pressured into changing her vote. The Canadians were awarded duel gold medals, and figure skating was forever changed by the scandal. A new judging system has been in place since the debacle.  

  10. Broken records. Evgeni Plushenko went into the 2006 Olympic Games as the overwhelming favorite, and he did not disappoint. He set ISU records for both his short program and his free skate, leaving onlookers amazed at the power and skill of the Russian powerhouse.

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