Golden Olympic Performances – Ladies Singles Figure Skating

Let us relive and enjoy the gold medal performances of some of the greatest ladies figure skating Olympic champion.

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Sonja Henie (Austria) – 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Being a 3-time Olympic, 10-time World and 6-time European champion, Sonja Henie held more World and Olympic titles than any other ladies figure skater. She is credited as the first figure skater to wear the short skirt costume and choreograph her routines to music. As the first big star of figure skating, she paved the way for all the skating stars of today.

Barbara Ann Scott (Canada) – 1948 St. Moritz

Barbara Ann Scott became the first North American to win the European and World Figure Skating Championships in 1947. Returning home as a national heroine, she was awarded an automobile by her hometown Ottawa, but had to turn down the gift in order to remain eligible to compete at the 1948 Games, where she would become the first Canadian to win the Olympic figure skating gold.

Carol Heiss (United States) – 1960 Squaw Valley       

From 1957 to 1960, Carol Heiss dominated women’s figure skating like no other athlete since Sonja Henie, winning every U.S. and World titles including the Olympic title. An athletic skater, she was the first female skater to land the double axel. One of her trademark skills involved alternating clockwise and counterclockwise single axels.

Peggy Fleming (United States) – 1968 Grenoble

Peggy Fleming built up a huge lead after the compulsory figures and handily clinched the Olympic gold, earning the first-place votes of every judge. Her golden triumph was the only gold medal that the U.S. Olympic team won in the entire 1968 Games.

Dorothy Hamill (United States) – 1976 Innsbruck

With her trend-setting wedge haircut, graceful leaps and magnificent spins, Dorothy Hamill not only captured the gold medal but also captivated the hearts and minds of the international audience. Hamill was the last female figure skater to win Olympic gold without a triple jump. Her trademark skill was the camel spin that turns into a sit spin, a skating move that became known as the “Hamill Camel.”

Katarina Witt (East Germany) – 1984 Sarajevo / 1988 Calgary

Known for her beauty and sex appeal, Katarina Witt was not afraid to use her feminine charm in some of her routines. Her unusual fashion sense led International Skating Union (ISU) to require female skaters to wear more modest attire including skirts, since she was once dressed in blue skirtless feather trimmed showgirl-themed costume which was believed to be too theatrical and sexy. Her athleticism and grace won her two consecutive Olympic gold medals, becoming the first female figure skater since Sonja Henie to successfully defend her title.

Kristi Yamaguchi (United States) – 1992 Albertville

With her expressive artistry in spite of errors in her long program, Kristi Yamaguchi won over her rivals who were attempting the more difficult axel jumps. What is so remarkable about her golden triumph was the fact that she was born with clubfeet and took up skating as physical therapy to treat them.

Oksana Baiul (Unified Team/Ukraine) – 1994 Lillehammer

Only 15 years old, Oksana Baiul unexpectedly won the 1993 World Championships in her first senior competitive season, making her one of the favorites to win at the 1994 Games. And she did not disappoint, narrowly beating Nancy Kerrigan of the United States, despite an injury that required three stitches following a collision with another skater during a practice session.

Tara Lipinski (United States) – 1998 Nagano              

 Tara Lipinski dashed the hopes of fellow American competitor Michelle Kwan for the gold medal, becoming the youngest individual gold medallist in the history of the Olympic Winter Games at the age of 15.

Sarah Hughes (United States) – 2002 Salt Lake City

Ranked fourth after the technical program, Sarah Hughes became Olympic champion following a clean free program that included seven triple jumps including two triple-triple jump combinations. Both Kwan and Sasha Cohen (United States) fell on their long program dropping to third and fourth respectively. Irina Slutskaya (Russia) whose score was tied with Hughes, was relegated to second place on a tiebreaker that Hughes won the long program in a close result.

Shizuka Arakawa (Japan) – 2006 Torino

Shizuka Arakawa snatched the gold from Cohen and Slutskaya, who both missed their second shot for Olympic greatness due to falls in their respective long programs, by skating an exceptionally clean yet emotionally-charged presentation filled with graceful speedy moves and technically perfect jumps; and thus, became the first Japanese (also, the first Asian) Olympic figure skating champion.

More articles on Greatest Athletes series:

Articles on the Olympics:

Golden Olympic Performances:

Olympic Greats:

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  1. Posted January 26, 2010 at 10:33 am

    A good overview of past winners!

  2. Posted January 26, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    A great post. But for me the most touching (on so many different levels) performance is Oksana’s. That girl–an orphan in the former Soviet Union–was quite literally skating for her life that day. I don’t mean that someone would have killed her if she hadn’t gotten the gold medal but that she would not have gotten her chance at a life had she not won.


  3. Posted January 28, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Wow! an outstanding post. Really enjoy watching each video. Thanks Eddie and nice to see again.

  4. Posted January 28, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Truly entertaining.

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