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Winter Olympics: Figure Skating

Figure skating is one of the oldest sports in the modern-day Winter Olympics. It made its debut as a competitive sport at the 1924 Chamonix Winter Olympics in France, although it had been an exhibition sport in the summer games of 1908 and 1920.

The first world-famous Olympic figure skater was Sonja Henie of Norway. She competed in Chamonix in 1924, when she was only 11 years old. Although she wasn't a medal-winner at that time, four years later, she won the ladies' singles gold medal.

Henie went on to win two more consecutive medals in 1932 and 1936 - she holds the record for consecutive wins in the event to this day. She went on to become a Hollywood actress and one of the highest-paid stars of the era.

Men's Olympic figure skating was dominated by the USA from 1948 to 1960, with Dick Button winning consecutive gold medals in 1948 and 1952 and the Jenkins brothers, Hayes and David, winning gold in 1956 and 1960 respectively.

Until 1976, the Winter Olympics held only three figure skating events: the men's and ladies' singles and the pairs skating. At the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1976, ice dancing was held for the first time and has been an Olympic event ever since.

The first ice dance gold medal was won by Lyudmila Pakhomova and Aleksandr Gorshkov of the Soviet Union. East German skater Katarina Witt was a well-known figure skater in the 1980s, winning the ladies' gold medal in 1984 and 1988 and becoming only the second competitor to win consecutive titles.

Great Britain has participated in the Winter Olympics since its inception and has enjoyed some success on the ice, with figure skater Ethel Muckelt winning a bronze medal at the first event in 1924 and coming fourth in the pairs skating with partner Jack Page the same year.

In 1936, British figure skater Cecilia Colledge won the ladies' singles silver medal in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, while fellow Brit Jeannette Altwegg won a bronze medal in 1948 at St Moritz, Switzerland, and a gold medal at the Oslo Games in 1952.

In 1976, John Curry won Team GB's first gold medal for figure skating when he triumphed in the men's singles at Innsbruck, bringing home Britain's only medal for skating. It was in 1984 when the Brits had their most famous win in the Winter Olympic Games, thanks to Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean’s phenomenal performance.

The Nottingham-born duo won the pairs' figure skating gold medal at the Sarajevo Winter Olympics with the highest score in history, receiving 12 perfect sixes and six 5.9s from the judges. All of the judges gave them a perfect six for artistic impression for their routine to Ravel's Boléro.

After their Olympic success, they turned professional - winning the world professional championships five times between 1984 and 1996. They were able to enter the Winter Olympics in 1994 at Lillehammer in Norway, after a rule change about professional competitors - they won the bronze medal.

This year's Winter Olympics, officially called the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, but known as Pyeongchang 2018, will take place from 9th to 25th February in Pyeongchang, South Korea. As well as the figure skating, other events will include various skiing events, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, speed skating, ski jumping and snowboarding.

Great Britain is taking a team of 60 competitors, including figure skaters Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland, both aged 28, who will be competing in the rink.

Coruba’s anti-slip rubber matting products can be used around an ice rink to create a safer environment. Please contact us for further details of our anti-slip safety matting products.

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