The Best Short Program Skaters In The World

Compulsory connected program, original program, technical program... The short program has had many names since it was first introduced by the ISU for pairs at the World Championships in 1964. The short program for singles was first contested at the World Championships nearly a decade later in 1973.

In the first two blogs in this series on The Best Short Program skaters we looked at all of the winners of the short program at the European, Canadian and U.S. Championships. Today we'll take a quick look at the winners of the short program at the World Championships each year... and some interesting takeaways. One note: a '*' denotes that a skater or couple also won the overall title that year.

Year

Men's

Women's

Pairs

1964

(none)

(none)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov

1965

(none)

(none)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1966

(none)

(none)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1967

(none)

(none)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1968

(none)

(none)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1969

(none)

(none)

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov*

1970

(none)

(none)

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov*

1971

(none)

(none)

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov*

1972

(none)

(none)

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov*

1973

Toller Cranston

Karen Magnussen*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1974

Toller Cranston

Christine Errath*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1975

Yuri Ovchinnikov

Dianne de Leeuw*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1976

Toller Cranston

Dorothy Hamill*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1977

Jan Hoffmann

Linda Fratianne*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1978

Jan Hoffmann

Linda Fratianne

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1979

Vladimir Kovalev*

Linda Fratianne*

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1980

Robin Cousins

Denise Biellmann

Marina Cherkasova and Sergei Shakrai*

1981

Scott Hamilton*

Katarina Witt

Irina Vorobieva and Igor Livoski*

1982

Scott Hamilton*

Katarina Witt

Sabine Baeß and Tassilo Thierbach*

1983

Scott Hamilton*

Katarina Witt

Sabine Baeß and Tassilo Thierbach

1984

Scott Hamilton*

Katarina Witt*

Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev

1985

Alexandr Fadeev*

Katarina Witt*

Larisa Selezneva and Oleg Makarov

1986

Brian Orser

Debi Thomas*

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov*

1987

Brian Orser*

Katarina Witt*

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov*

1988

Brian Boitano*

Debi Thomas

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov

1989

Kurt Browning*

Midori Ito*

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov*

1990

Viktor Petrenko

Midori Ito

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov*

1991

Viktor Petrenko

Kristi Yamaguchi*

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler

1992

Viktor Petrenko*

Kristi Yamaguchi*

Natalia Mishkutenok and Artur Dmitriev*

1993

Kurt Browning*

Nancy Kerrigan

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler*

1994

Elvis Stojko*

Yuka Sato*

Evgenia Shishkova and Vadim Naumov*

1995

Todd Eldredge

Nicole Bobek

Radka Kovaříková and René Novotný*

1996

Ilia Kulik

Michelle Kwan*

Mandy Wötzel and Ingo Steuer

1997

Alexei Urmanov

Tara Lipinski*

Mandy Wötzel and Ingo Steuer*

1998

Alexei Yagudin*

Michelle Kwan*

Jenni Meno and Todd Sand

1999

Evgeni Plushenko

Maria Butyrskaya*

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze*

2000

Alexei Yagudin*

Maria Butyrskaya

Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao

2001

Evgeni Plushenko*

Irina Slutskaya

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze

2002

Alexei Yagudin*

Irina Slutskaya*

Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao*

2003

Evgeni Plushenko*

Michelle Kwan*

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin

2004

Evgeni Plushenko*

Sasha Cohen

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin*

2005

Stéphane Lambiel*

Irina Slutskaya*

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin*

2006

Brian Joubert

Sasha Cohen

Dan and Hao Zhang

2007

Brian Joubert*

Yuna Kim

Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao*

2008

Jeffrey Buttle*

Carolina Kostner

Dan and Hao Zhang

2009

Brian Joubert

Yuna Kim*

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy*

2010

Daisuke Takahashi*

Mirai Nagasu

Qing Pang and Jian Tong

2011

Patrick Chan*

Yuna Kim

Qing Pang and Jian Tong

2012

Patrick Chan*

Alena Leonova

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy*

2013

Patrick Chan*

Yuna Kim*

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov*

2014

Tatsuki Machida

Mao Asada*

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy*

2015

Yuzuru Hanyu

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2016

Yuzuru Hanyu

Gracie Gold

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han

2017

Javier Fernández

Evgenia Medvedeva*

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han*

2018

Nathan Chen*

Carolina Kostner

Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot*

2019

Nathan Chen*

Alina Zagitova*

Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov

2021

Yuzuru Hanyu

Anna Shcherbakova*

Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii

So many fascinating things to take from this! Bearing in mind there were other events at the World Championships over the years - school figures and qualifying rounds - the short program winners more often than not succeeded in taking the World title. In fact, only twice in history have all three of the short program winners not won an overall title – 2006 and 2016.


Frau Jutta Müller and Katarina Witt. Photo courtesy Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig.

The first six years the men's short program was held at the World Championships, it wasn't won by the overall winner. Katarina Witt would have won six World titles had it been based on the short program alone.


Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov's short program at the 1989 World Championships in Paris. Video courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd.

Soviet pairs hold the record for the biggest streak of short program wins at the World Championships from one country – fifteen years in a row! The first five of those wins were by Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov; the final ten by Irina Rodnina and her partners Alexei Ulanov and Aleksandr Zaitsev. Another dominant Soviet pair, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, won the short program at every World Championships they entered.


Toller Cranston. Photo courtesy "Maclean's" magazine.

Then there were the unlucky ones! Canada's Toller Cranston holds the record for being the skater to win to the short program at the Worlds the most times (three) but never take an overall title. Alexei Urmanov is the only short program winner in the history of the World Championships to withdraw prior to the free skate.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here? Have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

The Best Short Program Skaters In North America


Compulsory connected program, original program, technical program... The short program has had many names since it was first introduced at the Canadian and U.S. Championships for pairs in 1964. The short program for singles was first contested at the Canadian and U.S. Championships nearly a decade later in 1973. In the last blog, we looked back at the winners of the short program at the European Championships. Today we'll take a quick look at past winners of the short program at Canadian and U.S. Championships each year... and some interesting takeaways. One note: a '*' denotes that a skater or couple also won the overall title that year.

SHORT PROGRAM WINNERS AT THE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Year

Men

Women

Pairs

1964

(not held)

(not held)

Debbi Wilkes and Guy Revell*

1965

(not held)

(not held)

Faye Strutt and Jimmy Watters

1966

(not held)

(not held)

Alexis and Chris Shields

1967

(not held)

(not held)

Betty and John McKilligan*

1968

(not held)

(not held)

Betty and John McKilligan*

1969

(not held)

(not held)

Anna Forder and Richard Stephens*

1970

(not held)

(not held)

Sandra and Val Bezic*

1971

(not held)

(not held)

Sandra and Val Bezic*

1972

(not held)

(not held)

Sandra and Val Bezic*

1973

Toller Cranston*

Lynn Nightingale

Sandra and Val Bezic*

1974

Toller Cranston*

Lynn Nightingale*

Sandra and Val Bezic*

1975

Toller Cranston*

Lynn Nightingale*

Kathy Hutchinson and Jamie McGrigor

1976

Toller Cranston*

Lynn Nightingale*

Candy Jones and Don Fraser*

1977

Ron Shaver*

Lynn Nightingale*

Janet and Mark Hominuke

1978

Vern Taylor

Heather Kemkaran*

Sherri Baier and Robin Cowan*

1979

Brian Pockar*

Heather Kemkaran

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini*

1980

Gordon Forbes

Heather Kemkaran*

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini*

1981

Brian Pockar

Tracey Wainman*

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini*

1982

Brian Orser*

Elizabeth Manley

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini*

1983

Brian Orser*

Kay Thomson*

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini*

1984

Brian Orser*

Cynthia Coull

Cynthia Coull and Mark Rowsom

1985

Brian Orser*

Elizabeth Manley*

Cynthia Coull and Mark Rowsom*

1986

Brian Orser*

Elizabeth Manley

Denise Benning and Lyndon Johnston

1987

Brian Orser*

Elizabeth Manley*

Cynthia Coull and Mark Rowsom*

1988

Brian Orser*

Elizabeth Manley*

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler

1989

Kurt Browning*

Karen Preston*

Cindy Landry and Lyndon Johnston

1990

Norm Proft

Josée Chouinard

Cindy Landry and Lyndon Johnston*

1991

Kurt Browning*

Josée Chouinard*

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler*

1992

Elvis Stojko

Karen Preston*

Christine Hough and Doug Ladret

1993

Kurt Browning*

Tanya Bingert

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler*

1994

Elvis Stojko*

Josée Chouinard*

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler*

1995

Sébastien Britten*

Netty Kim*

Michelle Menzies and Jean-Michel Bombardier*

1996

Elvis Stojko*

Josée Chouinard

Michelle Menzies and Jean-Michel Bombardier*

1997

Elvis Stojko*

Susan Humphreys*

Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz

1998

Elvis Stojko*

Angela Derochie*

Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz*

1999

Emanuel Sandhu

Jennifer Robinson*

Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz*

2000

Elvis Stojko*

Michelle Currie

Jamie Salé and David Pelletier*

2001

Ben Ferreira

Jennifer Robinson*

Jamie Salé and David Pelletier*

2002

Emanuel Sandhu

Annie Bellemare

Jamie Salé and David Pelletier*

2003

Ben Ferreira

Jennifer Robinson*

Anabelle Langlois and Patrice Archetto

2004

Emanuel Sandhu*

Cynthia Phaneuf*

Anabelle Langlois and Patrice Archetto

2005

Jeffrey Buttle*

Joannie Rochette*

Valérie Marcoux and Craig Buntin*

2006

Jeffrey Buttle*

Joannie Rochette*

Valérie Marcoux and Craig Buntin*

2007

Jeffrey Buttle*

Joannie Rochette*

Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison*

2008

Jeffrey Buttle

Joannie Rochette*

Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay*

2009

Patrick Chan*

Cynthia Phaneuf

Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin

2010

Patrick Chan*

Cynthia Phaneuf

Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay

2011

Patrick Chan*

Cynthia Phaneuf*

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch*

2012

Patrick Chan*

Kaetlyn Osmond

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2013

Patrick Chan*

Kaetlyn Osmond*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2014

Patrick Chan*

Kaetlyn Osmond*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2015

Nam Nguyen*

Gabrielle Daleman*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2016

Patrick Chan*

Kaetlyn Osmond

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2017

Patrick Chan*

Kaetlyn Osmond*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2018

Patrick Chan*

Gabrielle Daleman*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2019

Stephen Gogolev

Gabrielle Daleman

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro*

2020

Keegan Messing

Alicia Pineault

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro*


Some interesting things stand out here! First and foremost of course are the fact that there are some tremendously talented skaters on this list who probably should have won national titles but didn't. One skater that stands out is Ben Ferreira. He won the short program at Canadians twice (2001 and 2003) but was never a Canadian Champion.

Ben Ferreira

If you're a little superstitious, winning the pairs short program at Canadians was kind of curse in Olympic years for a period of time. In 1984, 1988 and 1992, the pairs short program winners all fell short of taking the national titles. It's happened in singles skating too - three times for the men (1980, 1992 and 2002) and three times for the women (1984, 2002 and 2010).

Lynn Nightingale. Photo courtesy Toronto Public Library, from Toronto Star Photographic Archive. Reproduced for educational purposes under license permission.

Patrick Chan holds the record for winning the men's short program the most times (nine), followed closely by Brian Orser (seven). Three women have won the short program at the Canadians five times: Lynn Nightingale, Elizabeth Manley and Kaetlyn Osmond. The pairs team who have won the short program the most times at Canadians are Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. They won it seven times in a row from 2012 to 2018. Meagan also won the short program at the 2009 Canadians with Craig Buntin, giving her the most pairs short program wins ever at the Canadian Championships.

SHORT PROGRAM WINNERS AT THE U.S. CHAMPIONSHIPS

Year

Men

Women

Pairs

1964

(not held)

(not held)

Vivian and Ronald Joseph

1965

(not held)

(not held)

Vivian and Ronald Joseph*

1966

(not held)

(not held)

Cynthia and Ron Kauffman*

1967

(not held)

(not held)

Cynthia and Ron Kauffman*

1968

(not held)

(not held)

Cynthia and Ron Kauffman*

1969

(not held)

(not held)

JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley

1970

(not held)

(not held)

JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley*

1971

(not held)

(not held)

JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley*

1972

(not held)

(not held)

JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley*

1973

Gordon McKellen Jr.*

Dorothy Hamill

Melissa and Mark Militano*

1974

Gordon McKellen Jr.*

Dorothy Hamill*

Melissa Militano and Johnny Johns*

1975

Terry Kubicka

Wendy Burge

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner

1976

Charlie Tickner

Dorothy Hamill*

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1977

Charlie Tickner*

Barbie Smith

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1978

Charlie Tickner*

Linda Fratianne*

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1979

Charlie Tickner*

Linda Fratianne*

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1980

Charlie Tickner*

Lisa-Marie Allen

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1981

Scott Hamilton*

Vikki de Vries

Kitty and Peter Carruthers*

1982

Robert Wagenhoffer

Rosalynn Sumners*

Kitty and Peter Carruthers*

1983

Scott Hamilton*

Rosalynn Sumners*

Kitty and Peter Carruthers*

1984

Scott Hamilton*

Tiffany Chin

Kitty and Peter Carruthers*

1985

Brian Boitano*

Tiffany Chin*

Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard*

1986

Brian Boitano*

Caryn Kadavy

Gillian Wachsman and Todd Waggoner*

1987

Brian Boitano*

Debi Thomas

Gillian Wachsman and Todd Waggoner

1988

Brian Boitano*

Debi Thomas*

Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard*

1989

Christopher Bowman*

Jill Trenary*

Natalie and Wayne Seybold

1990

Todd Eldredge*

Kristi Yamaguchi

Kristi Yamaguchi and Rudy Galindo*

1991

Christopher Bowman

Kristi Yamaguchi

Natasha Kuchiki and Todd Sand*

1992

Christopher Bowman*

Kristi Yamaguchi*

Natasha Kuchiki and Todd Sand

1993

Mark Mitchell

Nancy Kerrigan*

Calla Urbanski and Rocky Marval*

1994

Brian Boitano

Tonya Harding*

Jenni Meno and Todd Sand*

1995

Scott Davis

Tonia Kwiatkowski

Jenni Meno and Todd Sand*

1996

Todd Eldredge

Michelle Kwan*

Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen

1997

Todd Eldredge*

Michelle Kwan

Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen*

1998

Todd Eldredge*

Michelle Kwan*

Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen*

1999

Michael Weiss*

Michelle Kwan*

Danielle and Steven Hartsell*

2000

Michael Weiss*

Sasha Cohen

Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman*

2001

Michael Weiss

Michelle Kwan*

Danielle and Steven Hartsell

2002

Todd Eldredge*

Michelle Kwan*

Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman*

2003

Timothy Goebel

Michelle Kwan*

Tiffany Scott and Philip Dulebohn*

2004

Johnny Weir*

Sasha Cohen

Tiffany Scott and Philip Dulebohn

2005

Timothy Goebel

Michelle Kwan*

Kathryn Orscher and Garrett Lucash*

2006

Johnny Weir*

Sasha Cohen*

Kathryn Orscher and Garrett Lucash

2007

Evan Lysacek*

Kimmie Meissner*

Rena Inoue and John Baldwin Jr.

2008

Johnny Weir

Mirai Nagasu*

Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker*

2009

Jeremy Abbott*

Alissa Czisny*

Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett*

2010

Jeremy Abbott*

Mirai Nagasu

Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett*

2011

Ryan Bradley*

Mirai Nagasu

Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin*

2012

Jeremy Abbott*

Agnes Zawadzki

Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker

2013

Jeremy Abbott

Ashley Wagner*

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir*

2014

Jeremy Abbott*

Gracie Gold*

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir*

2015

Jason Brown*

Ashley Wagner*

Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim*

2016

Max Aaron

Polina Edmunds

Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea*

2017

Nathan Chen*

Karen Chen*

Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc

2018

Nathan Chen*

Bradie Tennell*

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim*

2019

Nathan Chen*

Bradie Tennell

Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea

2020

Nathan Chen*

Bradie Tennell

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim*

2021

Nathan Chen*

Bradie Tennell*

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Brandon Frazier*


Only four times in the history of the U.S. Championships has a skater or couple won the short program but failed to place in the top three in the final standings. This happened in the men's event in 1976 and 2001, in the women's event in 1981 and in the pairs in 2019.

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner. Photo courtesy Chicago Public Library.

As of 2021, four men have won the short program at the U.S. Championships a record five times: Charlie Tickner, Brian Boitano, Jeremy Abbott and Nathan Chen. Michelle Kwan is the women's record-holder at eight. The most short program wins by a pair at the U.S. Championships is six, a feat achieved by Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner consecutively from 1975 to 1980.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here? Have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

The Best Short Program Skaters In Europe

Compulsory connected program, original program, technical program... The short program has had many names since it was first introduced at the European Championships for pairs in Grenoble, France in 1964. The short program for singles was first contested at the Europeans nearly a decade later, in Cologne, West Germany in 1973. Today we'll take a quick look at the winners of the short program at Europeans each year... and some interesting takeaways. One note: a '*' denotes that a skater or couple also won the overall title that year.

Year

Men

Women

Pairs

1964

(not held)

(not held)

Marika Kilius and Hans-​Jürgen Bäumler*

1965

(not held)

(not held)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1966

(not held)

(not held)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1967

(not held)

(not held)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1968

(not held)

(not held)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1969

(not held)

(not held)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov

1970

(not held)

(not held)

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov*

1971

(not held)

(not held)

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov*

1972

(not held)

(not held)

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov*

1973

Ondrej Nepela*

Christine Errath*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1974

Jan Hoffmann*

Christine Errath*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1975

Vladimir Kovalev*

Christine Errath*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1976

John Curry*

Dianne de Leeuw*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1977

Vladimir Kovalev

Anett Pötzsch*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1978

Robin Cousins

Elena Vodorezova

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1979

Robin Cousins

Anett Pötzsch*

Marina Cherkasova and Sergei Shakrai*

1980

Jan Hoffmann

Dagmar Lurz

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1981

Norbert Schramm

Denise Biellmann*

Irina Vorobieva and Igor Livoski*

1982

Jozef Sabovčík

Katarina Witt

Irina Vorobieva and Igor Livoski

1983

Norbert Schramm*

Katarina Witt*

Sabine Baeß and Tassilo Thierbach*

1984

Alexandr Fadeev*

Katarina Witt*

Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev*

1985

Jozef Sabovčík*

Kira Ivanova

Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev*

1986

Jozef Sabovčík

Anna Kondrashova

Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev*

1987

Alexandr Fadeev*

Katarina Witt*

Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev

1988

Alexandr Fadeev*

Katarina Witt*

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov*

1989

Alexandr Fadeev*

Claudia Leistner*

Larisa Selezneva and Oleg Makarov*

1990

Petr Barna

Natalia Lebedeva

Natalia Mishkutenok and Artur Dmitriev

1991

Viktor Petrenko*

Evelyn Grossmann

Elena Bechke and Denis Petrov

1992

Petr Barna*

Surya Bonaly*

Elena Bechke and Denis Petrov

1993

Dmitri Dmitrenko*

Surya Bonaly*

Evgenia Shishkova and Vadim Naumov

1994

Viktor Petrenko*

Surya Bonaly*

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov*

1995

Ilia Kulik*

Olga Markova

Radka Kovaříková and René Novotný

1996

Viacheslav Zagorodniuk*

Surya Bonaly

Mandy Wötzel and Ingo Steuer

1997

Ilia Kulik

Irina Slutskaya*

Marina Eltsova and Andrei Bushkov*

1998

Alexei Yagudin*

Tanja Szewczenko

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze*

1999

Alexei Urmanov

Maria Butyrskaya*

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze

2000

Alexei Yagudin

Irina Slutskaya*

Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov*

2001

Evgeni Plushenko*

Irina Slutskaya*

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze*

2002

Alexei Yagudin*

Maria Butyrskaya*

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin*

2003

Evgeni Plushenko*

Elena Sokolova

Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov

2004

Evgeni Plushenko

Júlia Sebestyén*

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin*

2005

Brian Joubert

Irina Slutskaya*

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin*

2006

Evgeni Plushenko*

Irina Slutskaya*

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin*

2007

Tomáš Verner

Sarah Meier

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy*

2008

Tomáš Verner*

Carolina Kostner*

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy*

2009

Brian Joubert*

Laura Lepistö*

Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov

2010

Evgeni Plushenko*

Carolina Kostner*

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy

2011

Florent Amodio*

Kiira Korpi

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy*

2012

Artur Gachinski

Carolina Kostner*

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov*

2013

Florent Amodio

Adelina Sotnikova

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov*

2014

Javier Fernández*

Adelina Sotnikova

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov*

2015

Javier Fernández*

Elena Radionova

Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov

2016

Javier Fernández*

Evgenia Medvedeva*

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov*

2017

Javier Fernández*

Evgenia Medvedeva*

Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov*

2018

Javier Fernández*

Alina Zagitova*

Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès

2019

Mikhail Kolyada

Alina Zagitova

Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès*

2020

Michal Březina

Alena Kostornaia*

Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii*

A few interesting things that stand out here! Only twice since the short programs for singles and pairs have both been around have all of the three of the winners of that phase of the competition not won the overall title: 1982 in Lyon and 1990 in Leningrad. 

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze are the only skaters ever to win the short program at the European Championships and withdraw prior to the free due to illness or injury. This happened in Prague in 1999.

In the women's event, three of the biggest short program 'upset' wins came from Russian skaters. Kira Ivanova and Anna Kondrashova bested Olympic Gold Medallist Katarina Witt in 1985 and 1986, while Olga Markova took top spot in 1995, ahead of the four-time and reigning European Champion Surya Bonaly.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here? Have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

From Berlin To Brooklyn: The Arthur Held Story


"Brains and patience are the essentials for success. It means years of work, and if one of your hockey players were to devote the same time and brain study to his sport as the average skater does to his pastime, the question of salary limit would be even a more vexed one." - Arthur Held, "The Calgary Daily Herald", December 15, 1911

Arthur Held was born January 27, 1887 in Neustadt, Germany. Little is known about his early life aside from the fact he served for two years as a Corporal in the Imperial German Army's Engineers branch, won the junior championship of Munich in 1903 and taught figure skating for a time at the Berlin Eispalast. He later recalled of the famed German rink, "It was funny to see boys and girls who walked with the uncertain movements of their bodies like a young collie dog, skating in perfect position."

Arthur emigrated to America in 1910 and spent one winter teaching skaters in New York and Boston. In 1911, he was invited to the Minto Skating Club by the Earl Grey to teach his daughter Lady Evelyn Grey the finer points of school figures. He soon became the Minto Skating Club's first instructor and played an important role in introducing the new Continental (International) Style to Canada. He also helped develop fours skating, an evolution of the English combined figures. Among his students were some of Canada's earliest champions, including Eleanor Kingsford, Ormonde Butler Haycock, Douglas Henry Nelles and Philip Harvey Chrysler. Kingsford recalled, "Thanks to His Excellency who did so much to help the club, our first professional came out from Europe and quite revolutionized our style. How he enthused us and made us work, six hours a day and more, and what a joy it was being taught the correct way to swing and balance."


In her book "Minto: Skating through Time", Janet B. Uren noted, "Arthur Held deserves recognition as Minto's first coach, the one who helped Ottawa skaters to strive for and, for the first time, meet international standards. He also managed to win over at least one Ottawa audience by performing ten minutes of 'stunts' in the intermission of a hockey game. His program, the local newspaper reported, included 'spirals, counters, back rockers, serpentines, reverse swings.' The hockey audience, used to tougher fare, began by lustily booing 'the little fellow, alert, swift and natty in his skating uniform.' By the end of the program, the onlookers were cheering their heads off."


Arthur had a reputation as a strict disciplinarian, but behind the discipline was an understanding of figure skating's artistic possibilities. He believed skaters and sculptors each had something to teach one another, and noted it wasn't an uncommon sight for skaters to study the statues in European museums for inspiration. Quoted in the December 15, 1911 issue of "The Calgary Daily Herald", he remarked, "Following the plan of the continental teachers, I endeavor, and have had its success demonstrated, to have all those who come to me for instruction well versed in the ground work, that is, the correct poise of the head, the movement of the hip and shoulder, and the correct way of carrying the balance foot. When these have been properly learned and the whole body taught to swing in a line and not by jerky movements, the skater is then in a position to take up waltzing or even free to enter upon the wider field of free and fancy skating. I am often asked as to what constitutes the difference between the Continental and Canadian styles. In 1900, Salchow, the ten times world's champion, demonstrated how the various styles, which had been developed previous to that, could be adapted, each to some particular figure. He then worked out, as it were, a combination of all of these, taking in the better points of each, with the result that he believed he attained the perfect style. As skaters are quick to grasp anything in the way of improvement, it was readily adopted. This then is the Continental Style. It gives the skater a chance to develop individual 'mannerisms,' you might call them, yet the ground work is the same. So you see, there really is no Continental Style. It is simply the style for correct skating, and if it is taken up seriously, you might see within a few years a representative of the Minto club entered for the world's honours."

Mademoiselle Dazie and Arthur Held. Photo courtesy Library Of Congress.

Arthur and George and Elsbeth Müller were arguably the first European coaches to come to North America and 'raise' skaters on the Continental (International) Style, which was also being introduced to members of clubs in large centers by North Americans who learned the Style abroad around the same time. Other European coaches of renown, such as Sweden's Bror Meyer and Emmy Bergfelt, Germany's Karl Zenger and France's Armande Gobeille, soon followed. Several of these coaches did their rounds in New York, Boston, New Haven, Philadelphia, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, helping to spread the 'skating gospel' and fostering a sense of community between Canadian and American skating clubs, which began to intermingle at competitions and carnivals during the Edwardian era and the years that preceded The Great War.


After his tenure at the Minto Skating Club, Arthur returned to New York and taught at the St. Nicholas Rink during much of The Great War. In February of 1916, he won a competition for professionals judged by audience ballot at The Hippodrome in New York City, besting four other men. That same month, he skated an unconventional duet during the intermission of a hockey game at the St. Nicholas Rink. The February 24, 1916 issue of "The Sun" recalled, "Irving Brokaw and Arthur Held, the latter dressed as a woman, gave an exhibition of pairs skating." In 1917, he even appeared at the Hero Land exhibition at the Grand Central Palace in Manhattan with Bror Meyer, Emmy Bergfelt, Fanny Davidson and Freda Whitaker to promote figure skating in New York. After The Great War, he supplemented his income from teaching skating by working as a tool maker at an automobile engineering firm.


In 1921, Arthur began teaching at the Brooklyn Skating Club, which was undergoing a reorganization at the time. During his short stint teaching there, the membership grew from eleven to seventy one members. One of his last performances was a duet with Virginia O'Mallet in the first Intercity Scholastic Skating Championships held at the Brooklyn Ice Palace. 

Arthur passed away on May 25, 1922 in Manhattan at the age of thirty-three, six weeks after contracting pneumonia - in the days before antibiotics. He left behind his wife Maria and two children... and earned his place in the history books as one of North America's first notable European skating instructors.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here? Have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

Luyken's Schaatsemaaker


"Holland may certainly be called the skater's paradise." - C.G. Tebbutt

Published in 1694 by seventeenth century Dutch poet, illustrator and engraver Johannes 'Jan' Luyken of Amsterdam and his son Caspar, "Het Menselyk Bedryf" (loosely translated as "The Book of Trades") was a book of one hundred engravings, each depicting various trades in Amsterdam during the Dutch Golden Age. From the Vleeshouwer, the backer to the kaarsemaaker (butcher, baker, candle maker), each engraving was paired with a moralistic verse. The thirty-fourth of the engravings was "Schaatsemaaker" - 'the skate-maker' in english. The moralistic verse accompanying "Schaatsemaaker" was as follows:

"De Eydelhed, om vreugd te raapen
Wyl't weerels her naar uitvlucht dorst,
Begeeft sich op de waater korst,
En laat de Dood van onder gaapen:
So speeld de Mens op't aerdse wel
Als over't gaapen van de Hel."

The verse speaks of finding joy in moving over the 'water crust' and evading death below in the gap of hell. In her 1983 essay "Dutch prints of daily life: mirrors of life or masks of morals?", Linda A. Stone-Ferrier of the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art interprets proverbs such as Luyken's from the period thusly: "Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century proverbs, such as 'the world moves on skates' also related the misfortunes of life to the perils of skating... Jan Luyken wrote a poem about the pleasures of skating, but also discussed skating as a symbol of mortality."

The contributions of the Dutch to skating's early history in Europe are countless. Hexham's "English And Netherduytch Dictionarie", published in 1648, mentioned skating in Holland. Eminent skating historian Nigel Brown noted in his 1959 book "Ice-Skating: A History" that "well before the middle of the seventeenth century ice-skating had become an important recreation in Holland. Several notable Dutch painters turned to the frozen ponds for inspiration. Life there was colourful and gay. It was practised by every class of society, from the simple peasant to the princes themselves... While speed would be the main preoccupation of the peasants hurrying to the market over the frozen canals to sell their wares, of the youths challenged to race their nearest companion, and of the soldier whose duty it was to move faster than the enemy, it would not have had the same necessity to the nobleman. Le grand siecle had just begun. Refinement and grace were a nobleman's passport. Exaggerated speed on ice, and the manner of performing it would appear vulgar to him. To his refined tastes it was an exercise of no appeal. The influence of elegance and good manners cannot be overestimated when following the early development of skating. It was this aristocratic interest which laid the foundation-stone of artistic skating. Sliding over the ice in an elegant fashion, listing over in a Dutch roll, gliding over the glistening surface balancing one foot behind like a graceful dancer had an irresistable attraction."


In seventeenth century Holland, a Schaatsemaaker was considered a noble profession. Skate-making was considered a specialized trade. The orders for iron and steel blades that skaters would strap onto their shoes would have been placed at a frenetic pace and work of the first quality would have been expected. Without those iron and steel blades, the Dutch would have never introduced the Dutch Roll, it never would have made it back to Great Britain and the trajectory of skating history would have been changed forever. Luyken's ode to the Schaatsemaaker was a depiction of how important skating was in Holland at the time and serves, in present day, as a reminder of just how paramount the Dutch were in the sport's early development. A copy of Luyken's "Schaatsemaaker" engraving can be found at the World Figure Skating Hall Of Fame in Colorado Springs, donated as part of the Grafström collection.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

The Summertime Reader Mail Edition

It's once again time to unpack the mail bag, answer some of your questions and share some of the interesting e-mails and social media messages that have come my way over the last few months. As always, if you have a question you'd like me to tackle or feedback on a blog please reach out via e-mail.

READER QUESTIONS

From @Huriye (via Twitter): "Could I please ask about Medal Ceremonies? When did they stop awarding a Sash to wear for the medalists? I thought they were a lovely touch & was it at Worlds & Olympics as well as Europeans? Also when did they stop having Medal Ceremonies on the ice rink after each event at Olys?"

A: A really interesting (and tricky) question. Looking back at old podium photos from international competitions, there's not a lot of consistency. At the 1964 European Championships, all of the medallists were given sashes to wear. In 1965, they were only given to the winners. In 1969, all of the medallists got them again. A picture of one of the podiums at the 1959 Worlds doesn't show any sashes, but one from the 1965 Worlds shows all three of the medallists wearing one. My guess is that it was probably up to the organizers of the events whether or not they were given or not? It's also worth pointing out that the pictures we see of podiums could be taken at any stage of the awards ceremony. Without reviewing video footage of every competition it's really hard to say definitively, and even then it's really not because awards ceremonies were rarely taped in their entirety. As for medal ceremonies at the Olympics, I'm not quite sure about the question? My understanding is that venue ceremonies have been consistently held even though in very recent years the actual medals have been awarded at different ceremonies.

From Susan (via Facebook): "For testing purposes, was the Starlight Waltz once a Gold dance? Was the 3-Lobe Waltz once a pre-Gold dance?"

A: The Three-Lobe Waltz was originally a Silver Dance in the USFSA test structure. It was moved to the Gold Dance Test in 1950. When a Pre-Gold Dance test was introduced in the mid-fifties, it was moved there. The Dance Committee dropped it from competitions in 1959 but kept it as a test dance. It was dropped altogether during the 1982-83 season, because it wasn't a dance that was adopted by the ISU. The Starlight Waltz was originally adopted as a Silver Dance in the NSA's High-Test Schedule and as a senior compulsory (Gold Dance) by the ISU in international competition in the mid-sixties. It was 'demoted' to the Senior Silver Dance test here in Canada prior to 1980.

Illustration from Walter Arian's 1941 book "The Fundamentals Of Figure Skating For The Beginner"

From Terese (via Twitter): "If you watch video of the Dick Button era, you see that it was common for skaters to have their free leg bent a lot. Who is responsible for changing that aesthetic, and when did it happen?"

A: Interesting question, Terese! When Sonja Henie won all three of her Olympic gold medals, the ISU's rules for correct form stated, "Free leg poised or swung entirely from the hip, in the socket of which it should be turned outward and backward as much as possible, always separated from the skating leg, knee slightly bent, toe pointing down and out." It wasn't any one person who was responsible for changing that aesthetic, but instead a gradual evolution of rule changes after World War II and evolving attitudes among skaters, coaches and judges. By the time Dick Button won his second Olympic gold medal in 1952, "a well-extended free leg and pointed toe" was considered good form.

From Alexis (via Facebook): "Which ice skaters have competed at an elite level on rollers?"

A: There have been quite a few! In recent years, the most notable is Matteo Guarise of Italy. He won the World pairs title in roller skating in 2008. A ridiculous amount of German skaters have found success on both ice and rollers. Ria Baran and Paul Falk, the 1952 Olympic Gold Medallists, were world roller pairs champions in 1951. Marika Kilius was also a World Champion on both ice and rollers, winning the women's event at the 1958 World Roller Skating Championships. Marika's first partner Franz Ningel, a World and European Medallist, won the 1955 and 1956 World Roller men's titles. Manfred Schnelldorfer, the 1964 Olympic Gold Medallist, was third at the World Roller Skating Championships in 1959. Two-time West German ice dancing champions Sigrid Knake and Günther Koch won the World roller pairs title twice and the roller dance title once. The list of elite German ice skaters who won medals at the World Championships on rollers also includes Freimut Stein, Marina Kielmann, Rita Paucka and Peter Kwiet, Thomas Nieder and Rita Blumenberg and Werner Mensching. There were a number of American skaters who achieved success competitively on both ice and rollers too. Sheryl Trueman and Jack Courtney won the 1969 World Roller pairs title, and Jack won the world men's title that year as well. They won the 1971 Eastern Great Lakes and Midwestern junior pairs titles on ice. Jack won the bronze medal in the senior pairs event at the 1975 U.S. Championships with Emily Benenson. Jane Pankey and Richard Horne were twice World Roller Dance Champions and finished second in the junior ice dance event at the 1970 U.S. Championships on ice. And as everyone knows, Olympic Gold Medallist Tara Lipinski got her start on rollers, winning the primary girls event at the 1991 U.S. Roller Skating Championships. 


From Ron (via e-mail): "When did plastic [ice] start being used for shows?"

A: Really interesting question, Ron! In 1967, two skaters (one of them an engineer) from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania - Randolph 'Sunny' McCulley and Vincent Stoltz Jr. filed for a patent for an artificial skating surface called Slick. Synthetic or 'muck' ice had already been around for decades at this point, but this was the first time a patent was filed in North America for an 'iceless' rink. Slick ice was manufactured by Vinyl Plastics Inc., based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and sold for two dollars a square foot. As part of a publicity campaign several champion skaters, including Melitta Brunner and Debbi Wilkes, were invited to test out the surface. Slick ice caught on quickly and was hugely popular in the seventies. Shows were soon held in unlikely places like shopping malls, amusement parks, zoos and trade shows.


Marina Cherkasova and Sergei Shakrai

From Frazer Ormondroyd (via Facebook): "A very famous picture, it was featured in Sandra Stevenson's BBC book of skating. She barely looks 8 let alone 12. I could never get my head around it until I eventually saw the footage for myself many years later and actually, Zhuk's girls all had fantastic basics and were more than a match for their more mature partners. Plus the content for the era was incredible. SBS triple toes, quad twists, triple axel catch twists, throw double axel, extended jump combinations and more and more complex lifts etc. Cherkasova/Shakrai, Pestova/Leonovich, Pershina/Akbarov were essentially the same pair, their technique was identical and essentially they were Zhuk's blueprint for G&G. It's interesting to watch these pairs develop as they mature. Cherkasova's growth was too much for Shakhrai come 1981. Pestova got taller but stayed tiny and their most successful season was in 1982, six years after they debuted. Gross & Kagelmann managed to win bronze at two Olympics in which she was two different heights and very much a mature pair by 1976. They skated great in Sapporo but shouldn't have beaten out JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley for the bronze who were another John Nicks pair very close in height."

From Pam (via e-mail): "Interesting couples and quotes in the article. I was expecting some counter examples of similar height pair partners that had success - Babilonia and Gardner, Debbi Wilkes and Guy Revell (believe Debbi was even taller than Guy). Different times and earlier era I guess. Thanks for the article."

ELAINE SKEVINGTON

From Tracey (via Facebook): "Hi I am wondering if you can help me with finding out about a distant family member. My mum passed away recently and she had talked about one of our relatives - Elaine Skevington who came 8th in the European figure skating championship held in Germany in 1953.  It would be lovely if I could find out more.  Perhaps you could point me in the right direction.  Thanks in anticipation."

If anyone knew Elaine and can share any stories or information, please reach out and I'll pass your messages along to Tracey.

THE SUMMER OF BARBARA

Barbara Wagner and Richard Dwyer posing for a publicity shot for the Ice Follies in 1969

From John McKilligan (via Facebook): "My favorite teacher of all time. The LADY was amazing. We were blessed to be accepted as Barbara's students for the summers of 1965 and 1966. My sister and I stayed with Linda Carbonetto Villella and her family for the summer of 1965 in San Mateo, California. When we arrived we thought we were already something. Barbara spent the first 5 or 6 weeks breaking us down to the very basics of how to stroke (and nothing else). So strict, so appreciated next year. For the summer of 1966 we got to stay with Barbara and her mother high up in the hills of San Mateo. Oh what a summer! Oh what memories! Awesome teaching, weekend trips to Squaw Valley, and other weekends in Haight-Ashbury and other parts of San Francisco in the Age of Aquarius. Those 2 summers are the highlight of my life and Barbara was the highlight of those summers. The amazing Barbara Wagner."

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here? Have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.