10 Famous Ice Skaters to Look Out for While Watching the Olympics

10 Famous Ice Skaters to Look Out for While Watching the Olympics

Figure skating is one of the most popular sports at the Winter Olympics, but which famous ice skaters are favorites to take home a medal at this year’s Olympic Games in Beijing? In some areas, the playing field is plenty even. In other areas, there are clear favorites and underdogs. 

When you think of the Winter Olympics, figure skating is one of the first sports you think of. It has been a mainstay at the Olympics for 115 years, first appearing in the Summer Olympic Games in 1908 and 1920 before being transferred to the Winter Olympic program in 1924. 

The United States, Russia, and the Soviet Union have dominated the figure skating scene since its early days, but Austria, Canada, and Great Britain have also had success. All in all, the US has the most gold medals (15), silver medals (16), bronze medals (20), and total medals (51). 

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Famous Ice Skaters to Watch in 2022

10 Famous Ice Skaters to Look Out for While Watching the Olympics
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock

The opening ceremony for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is set to begin on February 4, 2022, at the Beijing National Stadium. This will be our first look at all the talented athletes competing in this year’s Olympics, including some of the most famous ice skaters in the world.

Much like we’ve seen the past three Olympic Games, there will be a total of five-figure skating events – men’s singles, women’s singles, pair skating, ice dance, and team event. That means there are a total of 15 medals up for grabs and events will begin right away on February 4th. 

While there are plenty of famous ice skaters to keep an eye on this year, there are several former Olympic standouts not included in this year’s games, including the German pair Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (retired). Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva won’t be included in Russia’s national team – they won gold and silver in 2018, respectively. 

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the famous ice skaters you won’t want to miss this year!

10. Sui Wenjing & Han Cong – China

Sui Wenjing and Han Cong have been skating together as a pair since 2007. The two famous ice skaters represent China and were inspired by watching Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo at the 2002 Winter Olympics. They have been a power duo in the sport for quite some time now. 

Wenjing and Cong made their senior debut at the 2010 Cup of China after having won the World Junior Figure Skating Championship for the first time. They would go on to win the World Junior Figure Skating Championship three consecutive years in 2010, 2011, and 2012. 

The pair have won a lot of medals at the senior level since then. They’re two-time winners of the Junior Grand Prix Final, six-time winners of the Four Continents Championships, two-time winners of the World Championships, and one-time winners of the Grand Prix Final. 

They’ve also won a silver medal at the 2011 Asian Winter Games, a silver and two bronze medals at the Grand Prix Final, three silver medals at the World Championships, and a silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. They’ve made a career out of podium finishes. 

After a successful 2021 campaign that included wins at the Asian Open Figure Skating, ISU GP Skate Canada International, and the ISU GP Gran Premio D’Italia, look for them to impress a lot of people in pair skating at the 2022 Winter Olympics as they represent the host country.

9. Satoko Miyahara – Japan

Known as ‘The Tiny Queen,’ Satoko Miyahara was born in Kyoto, Japan, and started skating at an early age when she moved to the United States. By the age of seven, she had moved back to her home city of Kyoto and was skating under the direct guidance of Mie Hamada

Miyahara made her junior debut in 2011 and was a two-time Japanese national junior champion, one-time Asian Figure Skating Trophy winner, one-time Junior Grand Prix US champion, and one-time Junior Grand Prix Poland silver medalist. She won her first senior medal in 2013. 

Since then, she has won a gold medal, two silver medals, and a bronze medal at the Four Continents Championships, a silver and bronze medal at the World Championships, two silver medals at the Grand Prix Final, and a bronze medal at the World Team Trophy. 

She competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, finishing fifth in the mixed team event and fourth place in the women’s singles event. She most recently finished fifth at the ISU GP Gran Premio D’Italia and seventh at the ISU GP Guaranteed Rate Skate America in 2021.

Look for Satoko Miyahara to improve upon her finishes at the 2018 Winter Olympics. She represents Japan well, alongside another Japanese skater Rika Kahira – another name to watch at this year’s Winter Olympics!

8. Uno Shoma – Japan

Uno Shoma was born in Nagoya, Japan and started skating at just five years old. He was inspired by Daisuke Takahashi, but it was Mao Asada that convinced him to start skating and took him under his wing. By 2010, he won a bronze medal at the Japan Junior Championships. 

Shoma made his Junior Grand Prix debut in 2011 and won a bronze medal at the JGP Tallinn Cup in Estonia. He also won a silver medal and gold medal at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympics. In his career, he has won six gold medals, seven silver medals, and four bronze medals. 

He won gold medals at the Four Continents Championships in 2019, the 2017 World Team Trophy, the 2017 Asian Winter Games, the 2015 World Junior Championships, and the Junior Grand Prix Final. He also competed at the 2018 Winter Olympics, taking home a silver medal. 

Shoma would love to improve upon that silver medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. As one of Japan’s most famous ice skaters, he once successfully landed a quadruple flip in an international competition – the only skater in figure skating history to ever accomplish that. 

He’ll have a lot of competition this year in the men’s singles, but he should have enough in the tank to finish on the podium. Of course, only time will tell where he finishes on that podium.

7. Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov – Russia

Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov are a pair that will be representing Russia at the 2022 Winter Olympics. The two have been skating as a pair since 2017 and have won five gold medals and two bronze medals together. They’re currently coached by Tamara Moskvina.

Mishina was born in Saint Petersburg and started skating in 2006. She was originally a singles skater until being convinced by her mother to change to pairs skating in 2012. She has skated with Maxim Kudryavtsev and Vladislav Mirzoev before teaming up with Galliamov in 2017. 

Galliamov was born in Berezniki and began skating in 2005. Originally a singles skater, he began pairs skating when he moved to Saint Petersburg in 2014. He has skated with Alexandra Polishchuk and Nika Osipova in the past before teaming up with Mishina in February 2017. 

Since joining hands, Galliamov and Mishina have won gold medals at the 2019 Junior Grand Prix Final, the 2019 World Junior Championships, the 2021 World Team Trophy, the 2021 World Championships, and the 2022 European Championships. They definitely perform well together. 

This will be their first Winter Olympic appearance, so nerves will certainly come into play. With that said, they have the talent to really impress some people and will make the most of their opportunities. Expect them to compete hard for a podium finish in Beijing this year. 

6. Kamila Valieva – Russia

Kamila Valieva was born in Kazan, Russia in 2006 and began taking figure skating seriously at the age of five. She heavily admires the work of Nathan Chen, who we’ll discuss later down this list. Outside of her figure skating career, she hopes to one day become a psychologist. 

Although Valieva has only been competing internationally since the 2018-19 season, she has already gained worldwide praise for her one-of-a-kind abilities. She already holds numerous records and has done things no one has ever done before in the figure skating community.

For example, she holds the current world record women’s short program, free skating and total scores, becoming the first woman to break 250, 260, and 270 points in total score, the first woman to break 170 and 180 points in the free skate, and first to break 90 points in the short program.

She’s also just one of two female skaters to land a quadruple toe loop. Since 2019, she has won the Junior Grand Prix Final, the Junior World Championships, the Rostelecom Cup, the Skate Canada International, the Russian National Championship, and the European Championships.

In what will be her first ever Winter Olympic appearance, look for Valieva to impress a lot of people in the women’s singles event. There’s no shortage of competition this year, but she has the skill and the talent for a podium finish. Who knows, she might continue breaking records too.

5. Alexandra Trusova – Russia

Speaking of famous ice skaters that represent Russia, we can’t forget about Kamila Valieva’s teammate Alexandra Trusova. We mentioned how Valieva was one of two female skaters to ever land a quadruple toe loop – well, Trusova was the first to do it, but that’s not all she did.

Trusova is also the first female skater to land a quad Lutz and quad flip, the second female skater to land a quad Salchow, and the first female skater to land two and three ratified quads in free skate. In addition to all of that, she currently holds four Guinness World Records. 

Born in Ryazan in 2004, Trusova began skating at just four years old and won her first World Junior Championships at just 13 years old in 2018. In fact, she would win her second World Junior Championships one year later in 2019. She also won the 2018 Junior Grand Prix Final.

In addition to her gold medal finishes, Trusova has won a silver medal at the 2019 Junior Grand Prix Final, a bronze medal at the 2020 Grand Prix Final, a bronze medal at the 2021 World Championships, and two bronze medals at the 2020 and 2022 European Championships. 

This will be her first ever Winter Olympic appearance and there’s a lot of hope that she can finish atop the podium for Russia. She’s currently the second-ranked women’s singles skater by the International Skating Union, so she’s certainly one of the skaters to beat in Beijing. 

4.  Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron – France

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are currently the favorites to win the ice dance event. They represent France and have been skating together since they were around 9 or 10 years old. Their chemistry together is unmatched as they dance with elegance and grace. 

The two made their Junior Grand Prix debut during the 2009-10 season and placed 22nd at the 2010 World Junior Championships. They then placed 12th at the 2011 World Juniors, fifth at the 2012 World Juniors, and second at the 2013 World Juniors before making their senior debut. 

Since joining the senior circuit, the French pair have dominated the ice dance scene. They’re four-time World Champions, five-time European Champions, two-time Grand Prix Final winners, two-time Cup of China winners, and six-time Internationaux de France winners. 

The pair have also won the Gran Premio d’Italia, the NHK Trophy, the Autumn Classic International, the Finlandia Trophy twice, and the International Cup of Nice. They know how to win and they do it often, but they’ve also hinted at this possibly being their final year together. 

With their senior careers possibly coming to an end, you know they’re going to give it their all at the 2022 Winter Olympics. They already withdrew from the European Championships in preparation for their Olympic run, which should end with a gold medal at the ice dance event.

3. Anna Shcherbakova – Russia

Anna Shcherbakova is currently the No. 1 ranked female skater, according to the International Skating Union. If you’re looking for a female skater to watch at the 2022 Winter Olympics, she’s one of the ones to keep an eye on – along with her Russian teammates Trusova and Valieva. 

Shcherbakova was born in Moscow in 2004 and is one of three Russian female skaters making her Olympic debut in 2022 – the two others are listed above. She began skating at the age of three under the leadership of Oksana Bulycheva and she deeply admires Nathan Chen.

She originally planned on making her Junior Grand Prix debut during the 2017-18 season, but missed most of the year due to a broken leg she suffered at practice. She finally ended up competing at the 2018 Russian Junior Championships, where she finished in 13th place. 

Since 2019, she has won gold medals at the 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival, the 2021 World Team Trophy, and the 2021 World Championships. She also has silver medals at the Grand Prix Final, World Junior Championships, and European Championships (twice).

Although this is her first Olympic appearance, Shcherbakova is one of the favorites to take home a medal. She’s a consistent skater that isn’t afraid to take chances. She’s the first senior female skater to land a quad Lutz and landed two of them in the same program.

2. Yuzuru Hanyu – Japan

No man has won three consecutive men’s singles titles at the Winter Olympic Games since 1928 when Gillis Grafström achieved the feat. At the 2022 Winter Olympics, Yuzuru Hanyu will have an opportunity to join Grafström, having won gold at the 2014 and 2018 Olympics. 

Hanyu is the man to beat in the men’s singles and for good reason. He’s one of the greatest and most famous ice skaters of all-time, having medaled at seven World Championships since 2012 – one of two male skaters to achieve that feat, next to German figure skater Jan Hoffmann

Not only that, but Hanyu is the only male skater to ever win a Super Slam – winning all major competitions as both a senior and junior. He finished the Super Slam when he won the 2020 Four Continents Championships, where he had three silver medals in 2011, 2013, and 2017. 

In addition to his two Olympic gold medals, Hanyu is also a two-time World Champion, one-time Four Continents Champion, four-time Grand Prix Final winner, one-time World Team Trophy winner, one-time World Junior Champion, and one-time Junior Grand Prix Final winner. 

As the favorite in men’s singles, Hanyu is certainly an ice skater to tune into when the Winter Olympics begin on February 4th. He has a strong technique that combines both mature and versatile artistry. Many people regard him as the most complete athlete in figure skating history.

1. Nathan Chen – United States

Hanyu is the clear favorite in men’s singles, but that’s not stopping Nathan Chen from renewing their rivalry as his main competitor. Chen might not have the Olympic resume that Hanyu has, but he has just as good of a senior resume outside of the Olympics. The rivalry runs deep. 

Chen was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1999 and began skating at the age of three. He currently attends Yale University and is majoring in Statistics and Data Science. He entered his first competition in 2003 and made his Junior Grand Prix debut during the 2012-13 season. 

After finishing with a bronze medal at the 2014 World Junior Championships and Junior Grand Prix Final, he achieved a gold medal at the 2016 Junior Grand Prix. He eventually made his senior debut during the 2016-17 season and has been lighting up the figure skating scene since

Chen is a one-time World Team Trophy winner (2019), three-time Grand Prix Final winner (2018, 2019, 2020), one-time Four Continents Champion (2017), and three-time World Champion (2018, 2019, 2021). He also won a bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

The bronze Olympic medal came in the team event, but he also placed fifth in a disappointing men’s singles finish. Chen is, however, the world record holder in free skate and combined score. He hopes to avenge himself in 2022 with a better Olympic performance in Beijing. 

Who Are the Most Famous Ice Skaters of All-Time?

The Winter Olympics is where all the greatest and most famous ice skaters display their talent on the world’s biggest stage. It’s where we marvel at some of the amazing things these athletes can do on ice skates. There’s a reason why it’s one of the most watched events at the games.

And while the names above are the ones to watch in 2022, it’s important not to forget those that came before them. For example, you can’t forget about Gillis Grafström, Evgeni Plushenko, Sonja Henie, Irina Rodnina, Artur Dmitriev, Brian Boitano, Michelle Kwan, and Kurt Browning

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Some of the most famous pairs include Andrée and Pierre Brunet, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov, and Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini.

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