There are five names to be remembered in ladies figure skating history – Sonja Henie, Peggy Fleming, Janet Lynn, Dorothy Hamill, and Yuna Kim.
No one has ever dominated the sport like her – except that figure skating in Sonja Henie’s time was too premature as a sport to be called “figure skating” as we know it.
Even in today’s standard, Henie’s move on ice and her skills were remarkable, far ahead of her time. As her three time Olympic gold record testifies, Sonja Henie left an indelible impact to advance the sport. Sonja Henie was the one and only name in the early figure skating.
Since Sonja Henie’s charismatic star power dramatically had changed the course of figure skating, the sport rapidly evolved; eventually figure skating became a sport of the balanced ideal between compulsories and free skating, but it was only 1960s that the sport finally met a giant star.
It was Peggy Fleming.
Fleming was the first global sensation since Sonja Henie, and the final version of the compulsory era. With rock solid mastery of compulsories and competent free skating, and stylistic elegance and personal charm that laid out an enduring image of ice queen, Fleming was a fulfillment of the classic figure skating.
It was through Peggy Fleming, the greatest in the compulsory era, that people began to envision the image of ice queen. Few then thought the establishment of figure skating would ever be challenged. And fewer thought a little pixie blond girl from Illinois would challenge the meaning of the sport.
Her name was Janet Lynn, the greatest of all.
One of the rare footages from 1972 Olympics shows how Janet Lynn performed her compulsories, but Janet Lynn in that footage was just a little frightened child, as if she would do anything to get out of the warehouse.
But by that vulnerable dame the sport was redefined.
In her every move there were the joy of skating and purity of aesthetics. People marveled at Lynn. Lynn was everything female skaters would want to be. To simply put it, people wanted a sport in which Janet Lynn wins.
Janet Lynn gave the world of figure skating the ideal but she didn’t fulfill the ideal in a form of winning.
It was Dorothy Hamill that fulfilled that ideal. As a direct beneficiary of the legacy of both Lynn and Fleming, Hamill showed the world the ideal package possible in a female figure skater.
Hamill, armed with speed, power, balance, accuracy, competitiveness, innovativeness and style, was the most articulated skater of all time. Not only was she competent in technicality and artistry but also competitively as strong. Dorothy Hamill was the ideal skater of all time.
Last of all, not in the least, was Yuna Kim. Kim, who recently retired, was the strongest champion of all time. As Sochi scandal demonstrated, only fraudulent means can beat Kim when she was on.
Under the COP system Kim thrived like no others. Kim was the only skater who seamlessly balanced both technical proficiency and artistic interpretation.
Kim added a dimension of quality into the ladies figure skating with her pristine technical mastery. Kim’s all podium career was the vey magnitude of Sonja Henie’s. Yuna Kim was the greatest skater since Dorothy Hamill.