Figure skating is one of the oldest Olympic sports.

It was featured during the Summer Olympics in 1908 and 1920, but became a permanent winter sport in 1924.

One of the earliest figure skating pioneers was Norway’s Sonja Henie. She was just 11 when she participated in the Chamonix Winter Olympics. Four years later, in 1928, she captured the first of her three gold medals in ladies’ singles. She still holds the record for consecutive victories in the event.

 

Sport, Figure Skating, 1924 Winter Olympic Games, Chamonix, France, Norway's Sonja Henie is pictured competing in her first Olympic Games at the age of 11,who became the most famous figure skater of all time, She won Gold at the 1928 Olympic Games in St,Moritz (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

American men dominated the sport from 1948 to 1960. Dick Button won consecutive golds in 1948 and 1952, while Hayes Alan Jenkins won in 1956 and his brother, David, captured top spot in 1960.

Winter Olympics 1952 Oslo Norway. In Oslo, Norway, from 14 to 25 February 1952 during the Olympic Winter Games, Richard Dick Button, skater, gold medal, Olympic champion, skating on the ice. (Photo by Walter Carone / Paris Match via Getty Images)

There were only three events in figure skating until 1976: men’s singles, ladies’ singles and pairs. That year, ice dancing was introduced and has been part of the Winter Olympics ever since. Aleksandr Gorshkov and Lyudmila Pakhomova of the Soviet Union won the first gold medal in ice dance.

 

9 Feb 1976: Winter Olympic Games, Innsbruck. Five time World Ice Dance champions, husband and wife team, Lyudmila Pakhomova and Aleksandr Gorshkov of Russia dancing on their way to gold in the first Olympic ice dance competition. Mandatory Credit: Allsport Hulton/Archive

East Germany’s Katarina Witt became one of the best known figure skaters of the 1980s. She won gold in 1984 and 1988 to become the second skater to win back-to-back titles.

 

East German figure skater Katarina Witt smiles as she displays her gold medal 27 February 1988 at the Olympic Saddledome in Calgary. Katarina Witt, second behind US rival Debi Thomas after the short program, won the free program event and the overall title to become the first woman figure skater to repeat as Olympic champion (she won the gold medal in Sarajevo in 1984) since Norwegian Sonja Henie (1928, 1932, 1936).  (Photo by DANIEL JANIN/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2002, the pairs event featured joint gold medals winners after a judging scandal and subsequent investigation. As a result, Canada’s Jamie Sale and David Pelletier shared the top of the podium with Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia. The scandal led to the revamping of the way the sport is now judged.

 

17 Feb 2002: (L-R) David Pelletier and Jamie Sale of Canada stand on the podium with Anton Sikharulidze and Elena Berezhnaya of Russia and pose with their gold medals in the pairs during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the Salt Lake Ice Centerin Salt Lake City, Utah. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi bring another change in figure skating. The team element will be introduced, bringing the number of figure skating events to five. They will all take place at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

 

A picture taken on November 6, 2012 shows the newly constructed Iceberg skating palace, which will host the short track speed skating and figure skating events in Sochi, part of the coastal cluster for the upcoming 2014 winter olympics.  (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)

About Sandra Prusina

Sandra is a sports journalist based out of Calgary, Canada. She's covered three Olympic Games, as well as other sporting events across Canada.

You can follow her on Twitter at @sprusina

 

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