Get ready for figure skating in Sochi
Medal events: 5
Dates: 6–22 February
Figure skating has been on the Olympic programme since the first Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924, and was even contested at the Summer Games in 1908 and 1920. The men’s and women’s singles and the pairs events have been contested at each edition of the Winter Games, with the ice dance event being added to the programme in Innsbruck in 1976.
The men’s and women’s singles and the pairs events each feature a short programme and a free skating element. The short programme combines eight prescribed elements – such as jump combinations and spins – while the free skating programme sees skaters perform an original arrangement of techniques to the music of their choice. Ice dancing, meanwhile, features a short dance – which consists of a set rhythm and pattern – and free dance, where athletes can choose their own rhythms.
In addition to the singles, pairs and ice dancing events, a figure skating team contest will also be held in Sochi – marking the event’s debut on the Olympic programme. This new event will feature teams made up of six skaters – one male, one female, one pair and one ice dance couple. Points will be awarded to each skater/couple for their routines and the team with the highest number of aggregate points will win the gold medal.
Athletes to watch in Sochi
Three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada will be aiming to win his first Olympic medal in the men’s singles, although Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi, who won Olympic bronze in 2010, will also be among the favourites.
South Korea’s Yuna Kim will be hoping to defend her women’s singles title, although she will face stiff competition from Japan’s Mao Asada, among others. Russian hopes will rest on world pairs champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, while American world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White are likely to battle Canadian defending champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in the ice dance.
Korean Yuna Kim’s near-flawless display in the women’s singles at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, which saw her set world records for her short programme, long programme and combined total score, has already secured her a place in Olympic history, although Norway’s Sonja Henie and Russian Irina Rodnina remain the standard-bearers of the sport, with three Olympic gold medals each.
Henie was just 15 years old when she captured hearts at the 1928 Winter Games, earning the first-place votes of six of the seven judges to win the women’s singles gold medal. She went on to defend her Olympic crown in 1932 and 1936, while also winning 10 successive world titles between 1927 and 1936. Rodnina, meanwhile, is the only pairs skater to win three successive Olympic gold medals (1972, 1976, 1980). She initially competed with Alexei Ulanov before teaming up with Alexander Zaitsev, making her the first pairs skater to win the Olympic title with two different partners.
©IOC / United Archives - Sonja Henie
One of the most memorable ice dance performances came in the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, when Great Britain’s Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean earned perfect scores for artistic impression from every judge in the free dance.