Australia and Olympic Figure Skating
Australians first competed in figure skating at Oslo 1952. Adrian Swan competed in the men’s individual and placed 10th. Nancy Hallam and Gweneth Molony both competed in the women's individual placing 14th and 21st respectively. Cameron Medhurst represented Australia at three consecutive Winter Olympics - Sarajevo 1984, Calgary 1988 and Albertville 1992 - and achieved his best of result of 16th in Albertville.
The brother/sister national figure skating champion pair Stephen Carr and Danielle McGrath (Carr) also represented Australia at three consecutive Winter Olympics. At Albertville 1992 they placed 13th. At the next Winter Games two years later, they equalled the best ever performance by an Australian pair when they came 11th at Lillehammer 1994, alongside Elizabeth and Peter Cain at Lake Placid 1980.
Australia’s best Olympic results were achieved by Adrian Swan (Oslo 1952) and Anthony Liu (Salt Lake 2002) who both placed 10th in the men’s individual. Joanne Carter placed 12th in the ladies individual at Nagano 1998. Monica MacDonald and Rodney Clarke placed 20th at Nagano 1998 in ice dancing.
Cheltzie Lee was Australia’s only figure skating representative at Vancouver 2010 and won the hearts of the nation. She finished 18th in the short program and 20th in the free program (20th overall), posting personal best scores and delivering beyond her 16 years.
Four years on and Australia had four representatives at the Sochi 2014 Games – Brendan Kerry and Brooklee Hann were in the individual men’s and women’s competition, while Greg Merriman and Danielle O'Brien paired up in the ice dancing event.
Brendan Kerry again graced the Olympic stage at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics, with debutant Kailani Craine taking the women’s individual spot.
Harley Windsor made history in 2018 as Australia’s first Indigenous Winter Olympian, as he paired with Moscow-born Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya in the pairs competition.
Figure skating made its Olympic debut at the London 1908 Summer Games and appeared later at the Antwerp 1920 Games. It became an official Olympic Winter Games sport at the inaugural Winter Games in Chamonix 1924 and has remained on the program ever since. The ice dancing competition was added at Innsbruck 1976.
One of the superstars of the Winter Olympics was Sonja Henie, who at just 11 years of age made her Olympic debut and finished eighth at Chamonix 1924. Four years later she returned to win her first of three consecutive gold medals.
Following a judging controversy in Salt Lake 2002, the ISU adopted a new system in 2004 to award points for each element of a skater’s routine, based on degree of difficulty and level of performance. In addition computer scoring was introduced, which randomly selects the scores of nine judges from the panel of 12, discarding the highest and lowest scores of that nine, leaving seven judges’ scores to produce the final result.
A total score is based on the addition of points of two segments.
1. The technical score (or total element score) comprised of points gained on jumps, spins and step work. Each element of the performance is assigned a base value relating to its degree of difficulty, with judges evaluating the performance on each element within a range of plus three to minus three.
2. The Program Component Score comprised of points gained on five components - skating skills, transition, performance and execution, choreography and interpretation. The program component scores range from 0.25 to ten and range from very poor to outstanding. It evaluates overall skating quality, difficulty and quality of steps linking the elements, style and originality.
Men's Single Skating, Women's Single Skating, Pair Skating
The men’s, women’s and pairs competitions consist of two separate parts, the short program and the free skating.
The short program combines eight prescribed elements such as jump combinations and spins. In the free skating program, skaters perform an original arrangement of techniques to music of their choice.
The top 24 of the 30 single skaters qualify for free skating. The top 16 of the 19 pairs qualify to the free skating.
The scores of the short program and free skating are added and the result constitutes the final score of a skater or couple in an event.
In the pairs the couple work as one unit, demonstrating overhead lifts, throw-jumps with the man launching his partner, and other manoeuvres.
Ice dancing is similar to ballroom dancing and composed of two parts, rhythm dance and free dance.
In rhythm dance, the focus is on the complex steps in time with the music. Skaters maintain contact with each other, limiting lifts and jumps. In free dancing the pair freely express their interpretation of the music they have chosen.
The top 20 of 23 ice dance couples qualify to the free dance.
The scores of the rhythm dance and free dance are added and the result constitutes the final score of a couple in an event.
Each figure skating team is made up with competitors from at least three of the following four categories; Men’s single skating, Women’s single skating, pair skating and ice dance. Points are awarded to each skater and couple.
Qualification consists of a short program or rhythm dance. After the qualification a team will be allowed to replace up to two skaters or couples. Teams are awarded 10 to 1 team points for each team segment (1st place – 10 points, 10th place - 1 point). Qualification standings are set according to the sum of the team points.
The top five teams qualify for the final. The final consists of free skating or free dance. In the final phase, teams are awarded 10 to 6 points for each segment (1st place - 10 points, 5th place – 6 points).
The team with the highest number of aggregate points is declared the winner.