Pj's Top 10 Performances: Ladies | Figure Skating | CBC Sports

Figure SkatingPj's Top 10 Performances: Ladies

Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | 01:55 PM

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Joannie Rochette's emotional short skate at the Vancouver Olympics captivated audiences around the world. (Amy Sancetta/Associated Press) Joannie Rochette's emotional short skate at the Vancouver Olympics captivated audiences around the world. (Amy Sancetta/Associated Press)

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Often, the first image that springs to mind when someone says figure skating is a white skate boot on top of a shiny silver blade. Many of the iconic images in the sport come from the women who wear them.

Choosing my top 10 favourite performances of all time meant I had to come up with some guidelines, so the ladies' programs that made my list are all ones that I saw either live in the building or on TV.
Editor's Note: For Pj's latest series of top 10 lists, she's ranking her favourite performances of all time, starting with the best ladies' skates.

If you missed her last series on the top 10 skaters of all time, you can go back and read her ladies, men's, pairs and dance rankings.


Often, the first image that springs to mind when someone says figure skating is a white skate boot on top of a shiny silver blade. Many of the iconic images in the sport come from the women who wear them.

Choosing my top 10 favourite performances of all time meant I had to come up with some guidelines, so the ladies' programs that made my list are all ones that I saw either live in the building or on TV.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to set me straight with your own top 10. I want to hear from you! Leave your comments at the bottom of this page or give me a shout on Twitter @skatingpj.

1. Joannie Rochette (Canada), 2010 Olympics, La Cumparsita short program

As the PA announcer for figure skating in Vancouver, I had a unique and up-close perspective on what was going on during the competition. When Rochette skated her short program two days after losing her mother, there were none of the ordinary shuffling noises in the crowd. The intensity of that performance and the attention paid to it was palpable. I could only half-watch Rochette, because when I did I was moved to tears by her enormous courage. I will never forget it.

2. Yu-Na Kim (South Korea), 2009 world championships, Danse Macabre short program

We all know Kim as a sensational skater and the 2010 Olympic champion. But I loved her short program in 2009, which showcased not only her outstanding skating but a vixen-like quality that was both playful and engaging. She is utterly charming.

3. Lu Chen (China), 1998 Olympics, Butterfly Lovers free program

When Chen took the ice in Nagano, she was considered a bit of a has-been. She failed to qualify for the free skate at worlds in 1997 after having been the world champion in 1995 and the silver medallist in 1996. Chen had to earn one of the six wild card spots for the Olympics at a qualifier in the fall of 1997. But her free program in Nagano was beautiful. Her success at climbing back up from disgrace to a bronze medal and the raw emotion of it all still captures me today.

4. Janet Lynn (United States), 1970 U.S. championships, Afternoon of a Faun free program

As a young girl, what I remember most about Janet Lynn was she was the biggest competitive threat to my childhood hero, Canadian champion Karen Magnussen. Even though my childhood self didn't want to admit it, there was something so pure about Lynn's skating. The way she rides her edges is the way all skating should be. Watching the U.S. mationals in 1970 on TV, her exquisite style and joie de vivre jumped through the screen.

5. Michelle Kwan (United States), 1996 world championships, Salome free program

At the worlds in Edmonton in 1996, I was wide-eyed. I had been a spectator six years before in Halifax, and here I was working for the first time at worlds as one of the PA announcers. As a coach and fan I tried to soak in as much of the skating as I could. When Kwan took the ice, I was watching because a familiar Toronto coach, Lori Nichol, had done the choreography. What I didn't know was that a star was born that night when Kwan took her first of five world titles.

6. Mao Asada (Japan), 2005 junior worlds, La Boutique Fantastique free program

What can you say about a tiny, delicate teenager with a triple Axel and lyrical lines and speed to die for? Did I just see that!? Wow!

7. Elizabeth Manley (Canada), 1988 Olympics, Irma La Douce free program

Like so many Canadians, I was glued to the TV for the Calgary Olympics, especially when it came to skating. I had everything crossed but had been down this road before with Manley and was secretly thinking I would be disappointed. As she went into the last minute of her program, the suspense of wondering whether she would be able to do it was almost too much for me. I am sure the neighbours heard my roar as Manley finished the program that won her the silver medal.

8. Dorothy Hamill (United States), 1974 world championships, Firebird/medley free program

Hamill used to skate in Toronto in the summer and boarded at my friend's house, so we were summer skating school friends. I felt a special connection to her as she took the ice for her free program at the worlds in Munich in 1974. Immediately preceding her arrival on the ice, the marks were announced for the previous competitor, Germany's hometown girl Gerti Schanderl. The fans weren't happy, and the booing, hissing and whistling went on for a full five minutes. From where I was seated, the noise was deafening. When Hamill took the ice, she thought the booing was for her. She burst into tears and left the ice, only to return and deliver a flawless performance for the silver medal.

9. Sarah Hughes (United States), 2002 Olympics, Daphnis et Chloe free program


It would be fair to say that after the pairs judging scandal broke at the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, there was a weird vibe in the building. Hughes broke through it like a bold ray of sunshine on a dark day. She was never able to duplicate that performance, but for me it was special enough to stand alone.

10. Karen Magnussen (Canada), 1973 world championships, classical piano medley free program

I remember crossing my fingers for Magnussen. She was the one that Canada's little girls of my generation were hoping to be like. I was in the basement watching the event on TV and remember feeling the awe of being able to say that Canada had a world ladies champion.

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