10 Greatest Female Figure Skaters of All Time
Figure skating is an athletic event that is so beautiful to watch. It is a sport that involves a lot of jumps, spins, footwork, and other complicated and difficult maneuvers on ice; and wherein the participants, whether an individual, a pair, or group, are judged not only for their technical abilities but also for their artistic talents.
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There are some many great female figure skaters, who did not only excel in the sport in their home territories but also on the international stage by winning many World and Olympic titles. As follows is my list of the greatest ladies singles figure skaters of all time:
Sonja Henie (Norway)
This figure skater has won more Olympic (1928, 1932 and 1936) and World Championship (1927 – 1936) titles than any ladies figure skater in history, earning her the nickname “Queen of Ice.” Sonja Henie was the first figure skater to wear the short skirt attire and employ choreographed dance in her routines. Her pioneering skating methods and alluring stage presence popularized the sport completely, turning it into a legitimate sport in the Winter Olympics. Following her 1936 Olympic and World triumphs, she pursued a career in Hollywood, becoming one of the highest paid actresses at the time.
Herma Szabo (Austria)
Having won the 1924 Olympic title and five consecutive World championships (1922-1926), she is the most successful figure skater Austria has ever produced. She also competed in pairs skating partnering with a fellow Austrian Ludwig Wrede, winning two World titles (1925 and 1927).
Katarina Witt (Germany)
Her competitive record of two consecutive Olympic (1984 and 1988) and four World championships (1984-1985, 1987-1988) titles makes her one of the greatest figure skaters in history. Katarina Witt is best known not only for her athletic abilities but also for her stunning good looks and sex appeal.
Carol Heiss (United States)Read more in Skating
Even after earning silver in the 1956 Winter Olympics, Carol Heiss turned down every offer to turn professional in order to fulfill her promise of winning a gold medal for her mother who died of cancer in 1956. Between 1956 and 1960, she completely conquered the sport, winning five World championships (1956-1960), four US titles (1957-1960) and the 1960 Olympic title, in which she became the first female skater to successfully perform the double axel jump.
Michelle Kwan (United States)
America’s most decorated figure skater. Her technical consistency and expressive artistry have won her five World titles (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, and 2003) and a record of nine US championships (1996, 1998-2005). She also earned a silver and a bronze at the 1998 Nagano and 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games, respectively. She is also known for her ever elegant change-of-edge spiral, which is very much regarded as her signature move.
Irina Slutskaya (Russia)
As a two-time World champion (2002, 2005), seven-time European champion (2000-01, 2003, 2005-06) and a two time Olympic medallist (silver 2002, bronze 2006), she is definitely the most successful ladies singles skater to come out of Russia. She is much recognized for her athleticism, being the first female skater to land the triple lutz, triple loop combination and the triple salchow, triple loop, double toe-loop combination. She also invented what would become her trademark, the double Biellmann spin with foot change.
Peggy Fleming (United States)
Her unique style brought her five US titles (1964-1968), three World titles (1966-1968) and the 1968 Olympic gold medal, which incidentally was the only gold medal that the US team won in the Games. Peggy Fleming has been acting as figure skating commentator for ABC Sports for more than twenty years, including a few Winter Olympic Games.
Kristi Yamaguchi (United States)
What is so amazing about her having won two World championship titles (1991-92) and the gold medal at the 1992 Albertville Olympic Games was the fact she was born with club feet and took up skating as therapy to treat them. A well-rounded skater, Kristi Yamaguchi won over her competitors (who were consistently performing the difficult triple axel jumps) by focusing on artistic expression and triple-triple jump combinations.
Dorothy Hamill (United States)
The 1974 and 1975 World silver medallist; and the 1976 World and Olympic champion. Her Olympic victory, along with her sunny personality endeared her to worldwide audiences, and would soon after become America’s sweetheart. Dorothy Hamill is attributed with creating a new skating move known as the “Hamill camel,” which is a camel spin that develop into a sit spin.
The first Chinese figure skater to medal (bronze 1992) and win at the World championships (1995); and the first Chinese figure skater to medal at the Olympics, two consecutive Olympics at that (bronze in 1994 and 1998). She is celebrated not only for her graceful skating but also for her athletic prowess, as she frequently jumped more triples than many of her contemporaries. Much praised for her artistic sensitivity, she often incorporated Asian influences into her routines.
More articles on Greatest Athletes series:
- (Almost) Greatest Female Gymnasts in History
- 10 Greatest Male Gymnasts in History
- 10 Greatest Female Gymnasts in History
- Greatest American Female Gymnasts
- Greatest American Male Gymnasts
- 10 Greatest Female Figure Skaters of All Time
- 10 Greatest Male Figure Skaters of All Time
Articles on the Olympics:
- Unforgettable Summer Olympic Stories
- More Unforgettable Summer Olympic Stories
- Unforgettable Winter Olympic Stories
- More Unforgettable Winter Olympic Stories
- Unforgettable Moments of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
- Unforgettable Moments of The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics
- Michael Phelps: The Greatest Olympian of All Time
Golden Olympic Performances:
- Men Singles Figure Skating
- Ladies Singles Figure Skating
- Men’s Gymnastics – Floor Exercise
- Men’s Gymnastics – Pommel Horse
- Men’s Gymnastics – Still Rings
- Men’s Gymnastics – Horizontal Bar
- Men’s Gymnastics – Parallel Bars
- Women’s Gymnastics – Uneven Bars
- Women’s Gymnastics – Balance Beam
- Women’s Gymnastics – Floor Exercise