Figure Skating Olympic Champions

Figure Skater
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Adelina Sotnikova: 2014 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Adelina Sotnikova - 2014 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Adelina Sotnikova - 2014 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Photo by Matthew Stockman - Getty Images

Take a journey through Olympic figure skating history and learn a bit about ice skating "queens" who have been crowned in gold at the Winter Olympic Games.

On Thursday, February 20, 2014, Adelina Sotnikova won the ladies Olympic figure skating title and became the first Russian lady to win Olympic figure skating gold. Russia qualified to send only two ladies to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. There had been some concern that Sotnikova would not be sent to the Olympics after she lost the European figure skating title to her teammate Julia Lipnitskaia and also after her 9th-place finish at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships.  

Sotnikova won the Russian national figure skating title four times; in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014. Her rise to the top came quickly after she won the 2011 World Junior Figure Skating title, the 2010 Junior Grand Prix Final, and won silver at the 2012 Youth Olympics.

02
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Kim Yu-Na: South Korea's First Ladies Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Kim Yu-Na Celebrates Her Olympic Victory
Kim Yu-Na of South Korea celebrates at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics at Pacific Coliseum on February 25, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. Photo by Cameron Spencer - Getty Images

Kim Yu-Na is the 2010 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. In 2013, she announced her return and is the favorite to win the 2014 Olympic Figure Skating title. She is known for the "Yu-Na Spin" or the "Yu-Na camel spin." It is a camel spin where she does various and unusual positions. Another of her signature moves is a layback Ina Bauer that leads into a double axel. In addition to being a champion figure skater, Kim Yu-Na is a celebrity in Korea, as she is a popular singer.

03
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Shizuka Arakawa: Japan's First Ladies Olympic Figure Skating Champion

2006 Olympic Figure Skating Champion Shizuka Arakawa
2006 Olympic Figure Skating Champion Shizuka Arakawa. Photo by Al Bello - Getty Images

In 2006, Shizuka Arakawa was Japan's first ever ladies figure skating Olympic champion. She was not the favorite to win in 2006, but she skated a perfect free skate and pulled up from third place after the short program portion of the ladies event to win the Olympic title.

Arakawa began skating when she was five years old. It has been said that she began landing triple jumps when she was eight years old. She began to compete in national Japanese figure skating events in 1994. In 1998 when she was 16, Arakawa competed for Japan in the Olympics in Nagano, Japan. She did not qualify for the 2002 Winter Olympics, so she did not participate in the 2002 Olympic Games. She was 24 when she won the 2006 Olympic Figure Skating title.

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Sarah Hughes: 2002 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Sarah Hughes - 2002 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Sarah Hughes - 2002 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Photo by John Gichigi - Getty Images

Sarah Hughes was only sixteen years old when she won Olympic gold and was not expected to win the ladies title 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. She was in fourth place after the short program; in the free skate, she skated a perfect program and landed seven triple jumps while nine-time US Figure Skating Champion and five-time World Figure Skating Champion Michelle Kwan, made mistakes.

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Tara Lipinski: 1998 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Tara Lipinski - 1998 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Tara Lipinski - 1998 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Photo by Clive Brunskill - Getty Images

In 1998, Tara Lipinski became the Olympic Figure Skating Champion at age 15. She is youngest Olympic figure skating gold medalist in history. She was three years old when she began roller skating, and began to ice skate at just six years old.

Lipinski is the first woman skater to land a triple loop-triple loop jump combination. That jump became her signature jump combination. She landed that combination cleanly at the 1998 Olympic games.

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Oksana Baiul: 1994 Olympic Ice Skating Champion

1994 Olympic Figure Skating Champion Oksana Baiul
1994 Olympic Figure Skating Champion Oksana Baiul. Photo by Mike Powell - Getty Images

Oksana Baiul was only 16 years old when she won Olympic gold in 1994 and overcame many obstacles before winning the Olympic title. At age two, Oksana Baiul's parents separated and she never did reconnect with her father. She was raised by her grandparents and mother, but both her grandparents died by the time she was 10. Then, her mother died when she was 13. She lived with her coach Galina Zmievskaya in Odessa in the Ukraine who guided her to her Olympic victory in 1994.

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Kristi Yamaguchi: 1992 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Kristi Yamaguchi - 1992 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Kristi Yamaguchi - 1992 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Getty Images

Kristi Yamaguchi was the first American woman to win the Olympics in figure skating since Dorothy Hamill won in 1976. She also won the World Figure Skating title in 1991 and 1992 and at the 1988 World Junior Championships, she won gold in both singles and pairs. Winning the Olympics opened all sorts of doors for her. She skated with Stars on Ice for 10 years and has written figure skating books.

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Katarina Witt: 1988 and 1984 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Two Time Olympic Figure Skating Champion Katarina Witt
Two Time Olympic Figure Skating Champion Katarina Witt. Photo by Steve Powell - Getty Images

Katarina Witt won the Olympics twice and also won the World Figure Skating Championships four times. In addition, she won the European figure skating title six times. Her success in competitive figure skating makes her one of the most successful ice skaters in history. Her tremendous beauty and her Olympic gold medals opened all sorts of doors for her as a professional, and she appeared in many television specials, magazines and movies. In 1994, she made an Olympic comeback and competed in the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

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Anett Potzsch: 1980 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Anett Pötzsch - 1980 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Anett Pötzsch - 1980 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Getty Images

German figure skater Anett Pötzsch is the 1980 Olympic Figure Skating Champion and also is the 1978 and 1980 World Figure Skating Champion. She won the European figure skating title four times and the East German national title five times. She went on to judge international figure skating and also coached skating.

At the 1980 Winter Olympics, US Figure skater, Linda Fratianne, came in third in the compulsory figures, but won the short program and was second in the long program. Many say that Fratianne deserved the gold medal and should have won over Pötzsch, but that there was a conspiracy among the Eastern bloc judges.

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Dorothy Hamill: 1976 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Dorothy Hamill
Dorothy Hamill during the Winter Olympics skating competition in 1976 in Innsbruck, Austria. Tony Duffy/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Dorothy Hamill was considered "America's sweetheart." After winning the Olympics, Hamill became the the most sought after skater for commercial endorsements in figure skating history. She was a star in Ice Capades for many years and also performed in other professional shows. She eventually bought the Ice Capades and continued to make professional appearances. Hamill was known for her famous wedge haircut. Her hairstyle received national attention and many little girls in the USA cut their hair short so they could look like Dorothy.

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Trixi Schuba: 1972 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Trixi Schuba - 1972 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Trixi Schuba - 1972 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Photo by Imagno/Contributor - Getty Images

Trixi Schuba of Austria won the Olympics when compulsory figures counted for fifty percent of a skater's total score. Her figures were so good that no other skater could beat her scores. At the 1972 Winter Olympic Games which took place in Sapporo, Japan, Janet Lynn of the United States placed first after the free skate, but because so many points were given for compulsory figures, Schuba won gold.

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Peggy Fleming: 1968 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Peggy Fleming - 1960 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Peggy Fleming - 1960 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Getty Images

Peggy Fleming won the U.S. Ladies Figure Skating title five times and the world title three times. When she won the ladies Olympic figure skating gold medal in Grenoble, France in 1968, her Olympic gold medal was the only gold medal won by the USA at that Olympics.

After retiring from amateur competitive figure skating in 1968, Peggy Fleming skated as a guest star with Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies. She also appeared in television specials and performed in front of four different U.S. Presidents. She began commentating with ABC Sports in the 1980s and is and was a very popular and well-known figure skating commentator.

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Sjoukje Dijkstra: 1964 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Sjoukje Dijkstra - 1964 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Sjoukje Dijkstra - 1964 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Getty Images

Dutch figure skater, Sjoukje Dijkstra, was the favorite to win the 1964 Olympic figure skating title after the retirement of American figure skater Carol Heiss. She won silver at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games and went on to win the world figure skating title three times (1962, 1963, 1964). She also won the European title five time and the Dutch national title six times. Like many figure skaters of her time, her strength was in compulsory figures, but she was also good at free skating. Dijkstra was known for being able to do high and powerful jumps with much speed and energy.

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Carol Heiss: 1960 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Carol Heiss - 1960 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Carol Heiss - 1960 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Photo by Hulton Archive - Getty Images

Carol Heiss is the 1960 Olympic Figure Skating Champion and the 1956 Olympic Silver Medalist. When she won the 1960 Olympic Gold Medal, all nine judges awarded her first place. In 1961, Carol Heiss made her movie debut as Snow White in "Snow White and the Three Stooges." She married 1956 Olympic Figure Skating Champion Hayes Alan Jenkins. After raising her children, she returned to figure skating and became one of the top figure skating coaches in the USA.

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Tenley Albright: 1956 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Tenley Albright - 1956 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Tenley Albright - 1956 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Getty Images

Tenley Albright was the first female Olympic figure skating champion from the United States, winning in 1956. She also won the silver medal at the 1952 Olympic Winter Games. She took a year off from education and studies during the year she won the 1956 Winter Olympics. After winning the Olympics, she left competitive figure skating. In 1957 she began Harvard Medical School and graduated from medical school in 1961. Albright went on to become a surgeon.

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Barbara Ann Scott: 1948 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Barbara Ann Scott - 1948 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Barbara Ann Scott - 1948 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Getty Images

Barbara Ann Scott was the first Canadian to win a gold medal in Olympic figure skating. She also was the first female figure skater to land a double ​lutz in competition. When Scott won the 1948 Winter Olympics, she competed on a slushy and freezing outdoor ice surface in St. Moritz, Switzerland. After retiring from competitive and professional skating, she stayed active in the sport by volunteering her time as a figure skating judge.

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Sonja Henie: 1928, 1932, and 1936 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Sonja Henie
Sonja Henie. IOC Olympic Museum /Allsport - Getty Images

Sonja Henie was the first ice skating celebrity. She introduced the idea of white skating boots and short and beautiful figure skating skirts and dresses. Henie was the daughter of a wealthy Norwegian businessman. She began ice skating when she was six years old, and she won the Olympics in 1928 when she was just fifteen. She went on to win the Olympics two more times. After winning the Olympics in 1936, Henie became a movie star.

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Herma Szabo: 1924 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Herma Szabo - 1924 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Herma Szabo - 1924 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Getty Images

Herma Szabo of Austria won the 1924 Olympic Figure Skating title and won the ladies world figure skating title seven times. She also won the world pair skating title twice. She left skating after she lost the world figure skating title to Sonja Henie in 1927.

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Magda Julin: 1920 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Magda Julin - 1920 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Magda Julin - 1920 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Getty Images

Magda Julin of Sweden was three months pregnant when she competed in the Olympics and won gold. Her family was originally from France, but moved to Sweden when she was a child. When she won Olympic gold in 1920, figure skating was part of the Summer Olympic Games. Her father was Edouard Mauroy, a French music producer. She lived a long life and was seen ice skating outdoors in Stockholm when she was 90 years old.

20
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Madge Syers: 1908 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Madge Syers - 1908 Olympic Figure Skating Champion
Madge Syers - 1908 Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Public Domain Photo

The first Olympic figure skating events were part of the 1908 Summer Olympics and took place in London, England. British figure skater, Madge Syers, who was the ladies 1906 and 1907 World Figure Skating Champion, was the first Women's Olympic Figure Skating Champion. Syers changed figure skating since a women's only event was added to international figure skating competitions after Syers entered and competed against men at the 1902 World Figure Skating Championships. At the 1908 inaugural Olympic figure skating event, all of the judges gave Syers first place scores in both figures and free skating. At that same Olympics, she won a bronze medal in the pair skating event with her husband and coach, Edgar Syers, but only three pairs competed in the 1908 Olympics. Later, she and her husband wrote a book together called The Art of Skating: International Style, which was published in 1913.