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Figure skating was first contested as an Olympic sport at the 1908 Summer Olympics, in London, United Kingdom. As this traditional winter sport could be conducted indoors, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved its inclusion in the Summer Olympics program. It was featured a second time at the Antwerp Games, after which it was permanently transferred to the program of the Winter Olympic Games, first held in 1924 in Chamonix, France.
In London, figure skating was presented in four events: men's singles, women's singles, men's special figures, and mixed pairs. The special figures contest was won by Russian Nikolai Panin, who gave his country its first ever Olympic gold medal. He remains the event's sole winner, as it was subsequently dropped from the program. Once a demonstration event at Grenoble 1968, ice dancing has been an official medal-awarding Olympic figure skating event since it was introduced in 1976.
Swedish figure skater Gillis Grafström—who competed in four consecutive Olympics, from the 1920 Summer Games to the 1932 Winter Games—is the overall medal leader in the sport, having collected four medals. He is the only man to have won three consecutive singles gold medals, and one of five sportspeople to win medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Grafström followed the footsteps of countryman Ulrich Salchow, the first Olympic champion and creator of the jump bearing his name, who later became president of the International Skating Union (ISU). Eleven figure skaters have won three medals: Sonja Henie (Norway) and Irina Rodnina (Soviet Union), winners of three consecutive titles in the ladies' singles (1928–1936) and pairs (1972–1980) events, respectively; Pierre Brunet and wife Andrée Brunet (France), 1928–1932 pairs champions; Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo (China), the 2010 pairs gold medalists; ice dancers Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko (Soviet Union and Unified Team); Artur Dmitriev (Unified Team and Russia); Evgeni Plushenko (Russia) and Beatrix Loughran (United States), medalist in both singles and pairs.
Besides Grafström and Henie, only Karl Schäfer (Austria), Dick Button (United States), and Katarina Witt (East Germany) successfully defended their singles titles. Rodnina's two-time partner Alexander Zaitsev, Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov (Soviet Union), in the pairs, and Oksana Grishuk and Evgeny Platov (Russia), in ice dance, also retained their gold medals. Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov are also two-time Olympic champions: they won the pairs competition in 1988 for the Soviet Union, and repeated the victory at the Lillehammer Games representing Russia.
From 1964 to 2006, Russian figure skaters—representing the Soviet Union, the Unified Team, or Russia—have always won a gold medal in the pairs event, in what is the longest series of victories for one country in one event.
|Olympic Athletes from Russia||1||2||0||3|
|United Team of Germany||1||2||0||3|
Most Medals in Men's Singles
The oldest men's winner for Grafstrom in 1928 at age 34. The youngest was Button in 1948 at 18.
|1908 London||Nikolai Panin (RU1)||Arthur Cumming (GBR)||Geoffrey Hall-Say (GBR)|
Most Medals in Ladies' Skating
|11||Olympic Athletes from Russia||1||1||0||2|
The oldest ladies' winner is Syers in 1908 at age 27. Lipinski was the youngest in 1998 at 15.
Most Medals in Pairs Skating
|12||United Team of Germany||0||2||0||2|
Most Medals in Ice Dancing