10 Pieces of Figure Skating Trivia

Unique and Unusual Figure Skating and Ice Dancing Minutiae

Here are 10 unusual and unique facts that you may not know about the world of figure skating.

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Sonja Henie Founded White Skates and Short Skating Skirts

Sonja Henie, Norwegian figure skater and actress, ice skating in a showgirl costume with a pink feather headdress in 1955

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

In 1928, when Sonja Henie was fifteen years old, she became the youngest woman ever to win an Olympic figure skating gold medal. Henie held that title for seventy years until Tara Lipinski of the USA won Olympic gold in 1998. Lipinski was two months younger than Henie when she won gold in 1998 at the Olympic Winter Games that took place in Nagano, Japan.

Sonja Henie won the ladies Olympic figure skating title three times. Her first Olympic gold was in 1928 followed by more wins in 1932 and in 1936.

Before Sonja Henie appeared in the figure skating world, female ice skaters wore black figure skates. Henie introduced the idea that women and girls should wear white ice skating boots.

Ice skating attire until Sonja Henie's time was similar to street clothing. Sonja introduced the idea of short and beautiful figure skating skirts and dresses.

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Jackson Haines Is the Founder of Modern Figure Skating

Jackson Haines, a ballet dancer and the father of modern figure skating

George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress

The founder of the figure skating of today is Jackson Haines, an American ballet dancer and figure skater. Since Jackson Haines' style of skating was not well received in the USA, he traveled to Europe to show off and teach his figure skating ideas. His style of skating did not actually become popular in the United States until after his death, and the first US figure skating competition that included the "International Style of Skating" was held in 1914.

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The First Figure Skating Club Was Founded In 1742

The logo of the Edinburgh Skating Club, lineart of Hermes in a graceful pose with the words "Ocior Euro"

Edinburgh Skating Club/University of Connecticut Libraries

The first figure skating club was founded in 1742 in Edinburgh, Scotland and was comprised entirely of men.  In 1865, The Skating Club of Edinburgh finally allowed female members to join the club.

In order to be accepted into the Edinburgh Figure Skating Club in the mid-1850s, that members were required to be able to skate complete circles on one foot in a figure eight pattern and then jump over one hat, two hats, and three hats with skates on!

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Why Is It Called Figure Skating?

Janet Lynn, 1972 Olympic figure skating bronze medalist drawing figures on the ice

Bettmann/Getty Images

Figure skating is called "figure skating" because, years ago, designs were skated on clean ice in the shape of a figure eight. These designs were called figures.

Compulsory figures were eliminated from all official figure skating competitions in the early 1990s, and 1992 was the first Winter Olympics to not include compulsory figures at ice skating events. Today, tracing figures is no longer part of the competition.

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1960 Olympic Champion Carol Heiss Married 1956 Olympic Champion David Jenkins

Hayes Allen Jenkins, 1956 Olympic champion, lifting Carol Heiss, 1960 Olympic champion, wed in 1961

Bettmann/Getty Images

The 1960 Olympic figure skating champion Carol Heiss is married to Hayes Jenkins, who won the 1956 men's Olympic figure skating title. Hayes Jenkins' brother, David Jenkins, was also the 1960 men's Olympic men's figure skating champion.

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The First Figure Skating Website Went Live in 1995

The logo of the US Figure Skating organization

US Figure Skating 

The first figure skating website that ever went live on the internet was the US Figure Skating website, going online in 1995.

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Dorothy Hamill's Bob Hairstyle Received Attention Worldwide

1976 Olympic figure skating champion Dorothy Hamill airborne during a trick

Tony Duffy/Getty Images

The iconic "Dorothy Hamill Haircut," a short wedge style, became very popular after Hamill won Olympic gold in 1976. Her hairstyle received national attention and many little girls in the USA cut their hair short so they could look like Dorothy, the inventor of the classic Hamill camel spinning move.

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The First Quadruple Figure Skating Jump Was Landed by Kurt Browning

Canadian and world figure skating champion Kurt Browning skating in 1991

Gilbert Iundt; Jean-Yves Ruszniewski/Getty Images

The first quadruple figure skating jump was successfully landed in competition by Canadian and world figure skating champion Kurt Browning. He landed a quadruple toe loop at the 1988 World Figure Skating Championships.

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The Battle of the Carmens Took Place at the 1988 Winter Olympicxs

East German figure skater Katarina Witt performs to Carmen in the 1988 world figure skating championships in Budapest

Bob Martin/Getty Images

The “Battle of the Carmens” involved East Germany's figure skating champion Katarina Witt and American Debi Thomas during the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Both skaters, Witt and Thomas, skated to Bizet’s opera Carmen. Thomas won bronze, and Witt won Gold.

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The Tonya and Nancy Figure Skating Scandal Increased Figure Skating's Popularity

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding at the 1994 Winter Olympics

Dimitri Iundt/Getty Images

The Tonya-Nancy figure skating scandal may be considered the most bizarre story in ice skating history. 

The "Kerrigan Attack" increased the popularity of figure skating. A novel was written, followed by a musical play, and a few television movies were made about the incident. Twenty years later, in early 2014, two more documentaries brought the incident back into the public's eye.