Our Top 5 World Figure Skating Championship Moments from This Century

Written By: Riedell | January 12, 2023

There’s nothing more exciting than figure skating championship season. With the 2023 World Figure Skating Championships (“Worlds”) in Saitama, Japan only a few months away, we thought we’d highlight some significant moments from Worlds competitions.

Note: The International Skating Union (ISU) records were reset during the 2018-2019 season. Records prior to 2018 are now considered historical records.

Enjoy this quick trip down memory lane!

#5: Papadakis & Cizeron Set the New Dance Scoring Record in 2022

Last year’s Worlds audience was blown away by French figure skaters Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. Not only did the pair wow judges and fans throughout the week—in their home country, no less—but they capped off their title-winning performances with what NBCSports called, “the best ice dance performance in history.”

In 2022, Papadakis and Cizeron broke their own previous record with 229.81 points, bringing their total record achievements to 34. They maintain said records in the free dance, short dance, and combined scoring.

#4: Yuna Kim Wins 2013 Ladies Singles, a Major Comeback After Missing Extensive Time

After missing both the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Yuna Kim, known in South Korea as “Queen Yuna,” returned in style to the World Figure Skating Championships in 2013. Personal fears that her performance would suffer from her time away were quickly shattered as her phenomenal free skate to “Les Miserables” earned her a standing ovation.

Her performance also sealed her victory that evening. She won ladies’ singles that year by more than 20 points, her second world title victory, with a total of 218.31 points in the championship. She went on to retire after the following season.

#3: Michelle Kwan Wins Her Fifth World Title in 2003

Though she never won the Olympic gold medal, Michelle Kwan’s career was nothing short of extraordinary. Even twenty years removed from her last championship title, Kwan is still widely considered among the best figure skaters of all time.

The 2003 World Figure Skating Championships took place in Washington, D.C., a fitting environment for the American skater who won her fifth world title that year. Only one other ladies’ single skater in history has more championships and medals – Sonia Henie.

Michelle Kwan officially retired in 2006 and was inducted into the United States Figures Skating Hall of Fame in 2012. Her impact on the world continues to this day. On October 2022, she was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to Belize.

#2: Yuzuru Hanyu Wins World Title Against the Odds, Sets Free Skating Scoring Record in 2017

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, also considered among the greatest skaters in history, set the free skating scoring record at 223.20 points in 2017 (a total of 31.59 points), giving him his second world title and wowing Worlds fans and judges.

This all was despite a shaky start for Hanyu, who began the competition with a time deduction in the short program (he scored 98.39 in the SP, behind Shoma Uno, Javier Fernandez, and others) and had to climb his way up from fifth place. And he did it all having made the choice to skate to Japanese music in what was “generally unknown to the Eurocentric skating world.”

#1: Kurt Browning Is the First Person to Complete the Quadruple Jump

Kurt Browning Quadruple Jump

It’s 1988 in Budapest and the World Championship viewership is in awe after Team Riedell’s own Kurt Browning (Canada) lands the quadruple jump, quad toe loop, in front of the figure skating world. 

The jump was during his free skating event, in which he ranked 3rd. He would eventually finish 6th overall in the event, just a few spots behind fellow Canadian skater Brian Orser. Amazingly, he then won four of the next five World Championships. He also represented Canada three times in the Winter Olympics. 

Following his decorated figure skating career, Browning went on to be a choreographer and commentator.

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