Figure skating is arguably the most notable sport in the Winter Olympics. It's a tradition of the Games that dates all the way back to 1908.
As we look forward to the 2014 Winter Olympics and prepare to see new names get written into the history books, let's take a look at Olympics past and see how exactly we got to where we are today.
The Birth of Figure Skating
Some credit the Dutch with creating the sport of figure skating. However, at the time that they invented it, I'm not so sure that they knew what they were up to. According to Olympic.org, the Dutch would skate across the ice that had formed in the canals so they could get from village to village. It was used as method of communication once the canals had frozen over.
Eventually, the practice spread across the channel to England where it became commercialized. Ice rinks were built and clubs were formed. It has since transformed into the world-wide phenomena that we see today.
Inclusion in the Olympics
In 1908, figure skating was first incorporated into the Olympics. However, not in the Games that we'll see this February. When figure skated first became an Olympic sport, it was actually placed in the Summer Olympics, not the Winter Olympics.
Sixteen years after it first became an Olympic sport, figure skating was then moved to the Winter Olympics. Since its move into the Winter Games in 1924, it has been a part of the festivities ever since.
Adding Two Events
Up until 1976, the only three events in figure skating were men's singles, ladies' singles and mixed pairs. Prior to the 1976 Winter Olympics, the governing body decided to add a fourth competition and, thus, ice dancing was born. It has been a part of the Games ever since.
This year, history will be made as brand new event will be included in the figure skating competition. Mixed team will join the other four competitions to push the total to five, the most the sport has ever seen in the Olympic Games.
Entering the 2014 Winter Olympics, the USA has a stranglehold on first place in the overall medal count. In the Olympics, the USA has won 46 total medals (14 gold). The next closest countries are Canada and Russia, who both have 22.
While the USA may have the most medals, it's a Swedish figure skater by the name of Gillis Grafström that holds the most golds. Grafström won three consecutive gold medals between 1922 and 1928. On the women's side, the only person to match that feat was Norway's Sonja Henie between 1928 and 1936.
Harding vs. Kerrigan
Arguably the most notable and controversial moment in Olympic Games history, the controversy that surrounded Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan around the 1994 Olympics will go down in history. It's one that involves passion, hate and the hiring of a hit man.
In January of 1994, just one day prior to the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Shane Stant, a hit man hired by Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and bodyguard Shawn Eckhardt attempted to break Kerrigan's leg. He was unsuccessful in the attempt as it was merely bruised.
As a result, Harding wasn't allowed to participate in the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships. Gillooly, Stant, Eckhardt and their getaway driver, Derrick Smith, all served time behind bars. Nancy Kerrigan went on to win the silver medal in the women's singles in the 1994 Winter Olympics.
Figure skating has a deep and rich tradition. What will this year's Olympics bring us? Who will get his or her name written into the history books among the all-time greats?
The Games begin on February 8.
Brian Skinnell is a contributor for RantSports.com and Yahoo Sports covering the Washington Redskins, Wizards and NASCAR among others. He's been closely following the Olympics since he was a young boy and has contributed to the Olympics coverage at Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter, @Brian_Skinnell.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Skating
- 2014 Winter Olympics
- Figure skating
- Winter Olympics
- Nancy Kerrigan