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The five most talked about moments in Figure Skating at the Winter Olympics from Tonya Harding to Kamila Valieva

Figure Skating is the oldest sport on the Winter Olympics programme and hasn’t been shy of controversy over the years.

The event is one of the most popular sports at the Games, and since being transferred to the Winter Olympics from the Summer events in 1924, here are some of the most talked about moments within the sport.

5. Surya Bonlay a pioneer for Women’s Figure Skating, Albertville 1992

During the 1992 Games in Albertville, France, Bonlay became the first skater to attempt a quadruple jump in an Olympics event. The French native landed a four-revolution jump, but was not awarded the marks after judges ruled that she had under rotated it.

It took another 30 years for a woman to land a quad jump at the Olympics. Just last week, a host of skaters landed them at the Beijing games, including gold medalist Anna Shcherbakova and her teammate Alexandra Trusova landed a total of five jumps to take the silver medal in the individual event.

Bonlay is also remembered for becoming the only Olympic figure skater to land a backflip on only one blade during the 1998 Games in Negano, Japan.

4. “Skategate”, Salt Like City 2002

Evidence emerged of a quid pro quo at the Games between the Russian and French votes.

Canadian duo Jamie Sale and David Pelletier produced a flawless routine, yet Russian Duo: Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were the ones who took gold despite a number of technical mistakes. The final standings of this event was enough to question the standard of voting.

French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne later claimed that the head of the French Skating Federation, Didier Gailhauguet, had directed her to score the Russian duo higher and in to first position.

Voting discrepancies between France and Russia were found in both the pairs competition and other Figure Skating events at the Games. Following this incident, there was a complete overhaul of the judging system, both Le Gounge and Gailhauguet were handed a three year suspension.

3. Torvill and Dean’s Boléro, Sarajevo 1984

Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean’s routine to Maurice Ravel Boléro, captured the nation with a British TV audience of 24 million watching the pair win gold.

The British duo became the highest scoring figure skaters of all time for a single performance, receiving 12 perfect scores of 6.0 and six 5.9. The scores also included artistic impressions of 6.0 from every judge.

Many people now relate Ravel’s piece of music to the pairs routine, but the choice of music wasn’t a safe bet. Olympic rules state that a free dance routine must be four minutes long (plus or minus ten seconds). The pair went to a music arranger to condense Boléro down to a skatebale version, and whilst looking through the rule book found that the stopwatch only starts when the skates touch the ice. The pair decided to start the iconic routine on their knees, timing it, meaning when Torvill’s blade first touched the ice, they would have the maximum time remaining.

2. Kamila Valieva doping scandal, Beijing 2022

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) skater Kamila Valieva found herself in the middle of a doping scandal. A sample taken in December showed traces of three drugs that can be used to treat heart conditions according to the New York Times.

15-year-old Valieva was allowed to compete at the Games following The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that a provisional suspension shouldn’t be imposed on grounds of her age. Under the World Anti-Doping code Valieva is a ‘protected person’.

She had helped Russia to win gold in the team event with a flawless routine and the gold medal in the women’s single skate final looked to be hers, leading the competition as they entered the freeskate. It also looked as if it would be a clean sweep of medals for the ROC in the event.

A flawless routine by Anna Shcherbakova gave the 17-year-old the gold medal and a silver for Alexandra Trusova, but after some technical mistakes and missed jumps, Valieva dropped to fourth, missing out on a medal to Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto.

Following the Figure Skating events, the ROC figure skating coach Eteri Tutberidze and her entourage have come under the spotlight for their coaching style, with Tutberdize being heard asking Valieva ‘why did you let it go?’ and ‘why did you stop fighting?’.

1. The Nancy Kerrigan incident, Lillehammer 1994

During a practice pre-games to see who would make the American figure skating team, Tonya Harding’s ex-husband hired a henchman to take out her teammate and rival Nancy Kerrigan.

Kerrigan was struck in the leg in an attempt for Harding to take gold. Both skaters competed at the games which saw the injured Kerrigan take home a silver medal for Team USA, and Harding finishing in eighth place.

Following the incident Harding was banned from competitive skating and her 1994 National Championship titles were revoked. An adaption of Harding’s life and figure skating career was released in 2018 called I, Tonya.

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