Top 6 Best Men's Figure Skaters Of All Time
The sport of figure skating involves balance, precision, and creativity in order to score well in competition. The following men’s figure skaters have had a history of proven success through global competitions. Each comes from a different background, but all have earned their place in figure skating history.
Who are the best men’s figure skating athletes of all time?
- Evgeni Plushenko
- Gillis Grafstrom
- Evan Lysacek
- Brian Boitano
- Scott Hamilton
- Elvis Stojko
1. Evgeni Plushenko
- Youngest winner of the World Junior Championship at the age of 14
- Between 2003 and 2006, Plushenko won three national titles, three European Championships, and two World Championships
- Won the gold medal in men’s singles at the 2006 Winter Olympics
- Earned four total Olympic medals, tying the record for the most Olympic medals in male figure skating history
Evgeni Plushenko began ice skating at the young age of four. By the age of 11, Plushenko began training with the widely-known figure skating coach Alexei Mishin in 1994. This move proved to be extremely helpful in Plushenko’s development and success. At 14, Plushenko became the youngest winner of the World Junior Championship. Plushenko trained alongside figure skating prodigy Alexei Yagudin, and the two would develop a rivalry that lasted the rest of their careers. Russia began to lose its status as a figure skating powerhouse on the global stage once Plushenko sustained injuries, proving his value to his country’s figure skating dominance at the time.
2. Gillis Grafstrom
- Four-time Olympic medalist (three gold and one silver)
- Earned three gold medals consecutively (1920, 1924, and 1928) and then followed with a silver medal (1932)
- Tied for most Olympic medals for a male figure skater (4)
- World Champion in 1922, 1924, and 1929
Gillis Grafstrom was a Swedish figure skater who was known for his precision and elegance. Grafstrom focused mostly on competing in Olympic figure skating. He was a four-time Olympic medalist during his career, with three gold medals and one silver medal. Grafstrom earned the Olympic gold medals consecutively in 1920, 1924, and 1928. Then in 1932, Grafstrom earned his Olympic silver medal. He also earned three World Championship titles in 1922, 1924, and 1929 out of the four times he competed in the event. Although Grafstrom competed in very few events, he still found immense success in the sport.
3. Evan Lysacek
- Olympic gold medalist (2010)
- World and Grand Prix Final champion in 2009
- United States Champion in 2007 and 2008
American figure skater Evan Lysacek began ice skating at the age of eight. Despite lacking the natural talent seen in other top figure skaters, he improved heavily once he received proper training. At the 1996 Junior Olympics, Lysacek earned a first-place finish at the juvenile skill level. After moving to California, Lysacek received training from famous coach Frank Carroll. At the 2009 World Championships, Lysacek earned a first-place victory. The following year, Lysacek became the first American male in more than twenty years to win an Olympic gold medal in figure skating. After this, multiple injuries prevented Lysacek from competing in the 2014 Winter Olympics, signaling the end of a historic career.
4. Brian Boitano
- Finished first in the United States National Championships every year from 1985 to 1988
- World Championship gold medalist in 1986 and 1988
- Olympic Gold Medalist in 1988
Brian Boitano found success in figure skating at the national, global, and Olympic stages. At the age of eight, he started ice skating with lessons from coach Linda Leaver, who would continue coaching him throughout his career. Boitano’s prime figure skating years were 1985 to 1988. During this time period, Boitano won all of the United States National Championships and two World Championship titles. His dominance was capped off with a gold medal in the 1988 Winter Olympics held in Calgary, Canada. Boitano is known for the skating jump he created, called the tano lutz.
5. Scott Hamilton
- Won four consecutive United States National Championship titles between 1981 and 1984
- Won four consecutive World Championships from 1981 to 1984
- Olympic Gold Medalist in 1984
American figure skater Scott Hamilton found immense success on the ice and helped bring respect and prominence to figure skating as a sport. Hamilton suffered from a childhood illness that stunted his height at 5 feet and 2.5 inches. He started ice skating at the age of 9 and made the United States Olympic team at the age of 22. Hamilton’s best years were 1981 through 1984. During this time period, Hamilton won the United States National and World Championships. In the 1984 Olympics, Hamilton won the gold medal for the United States. Hamilton elected to wear a sleek speed skating suit instead of a sequined costume, which helped convey figure skating as a serious sport as opposed to a spectacle.
6. Elvis Stojko
- World Championship gold medalist in 1994, 1995, and 1997
- Earned seven Canadian National Championships, highlighted by five consecutive
- Two-time Olympic silver medalist (1994 and 1998)
The Canadian figure skater Elvis Stojko started ice skating at the age of four years old. Stojko was known for his daring maneuvers, including the first successful quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop in competition. Stojko is one of the most successful figure skaters to come out of Canada. During his career, Stojko won seven Canadian National Championships and won World Championships back to back in 1994 and 1995. Hamilton earned a silver medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. Shortly after the 2002 Winter Olympics, Stojko retired from serious competitions.
- Figure Skating Grand Slam in 1976
- Three-time European Championship medalist (one gold, one silver, one bronze)
- Two-time World Championship medalist (one gold and one bronze)
John Curry is a former British figure skater known for his massive influence on the sport. While much of his tournament success came during a few year span (1974-1976), he won four major competitions in a single calendar year. This includes gold medals in the 1976 World Championships, the 1976, European Championships, and the 1976 Winter Olympics. Curry was known for bringing elegance and a balletic style to figure skating which at the time was not as commonly seen. Following his massively successful year, John Curry turned pro meaning that he could no longer compete in international competitions. Nonetheless, Curry is credited with growing the sport of figure skating worldwide and establishing Great Britain in the competitive scene.
Richard “Dick” Button
- Two-time Olympic gold medalist (1948 and 1952)
- Six-time World Figure Skating Championships Medalist (five gold and one silver)
- Three-time North American Figure Skating Championships gold medalist (1947, 1949, 1951)
- First Olympic Figure Skater to Perform a Triple Jump in Competition
Dick Button is a legendary former American figure skater who also earned recognition for his role as an analyst during the Olympic Games after his retirement. Like many figure skaters, Button’s success was over a short period of time, however it was a legendary run nonetheless. From 1947 to 1952, Button earned two Olympic gold medals, six World Figure Skating Championships medals (five of which were gold), three North American Figure Skating Championships gold medals, and a gold medal in the 1948 European Figure Skating Championships. On top of this Olympic hardware, Button was also the first Olympic figure skater to successfully perform a triple jump in competition. Such overwhelming success is more than enough to cement Dick Button’s place in the history books, with his well-respected television career through programming like Push Dick’s Button and his commentary during various Winter Olympic figure skating events only adding to his legacy.
When was men’s figure skating first added to the Winter Olympic Games?
Men’s figure skating was first added to the Summer Olympic Games in 1908, which took place in London, England. At these Olympic Games, figure skating events for men, women, and pairs were featured. The first Winter Olympic Games weren’t introduced until 1924 in Chamonix, France, which featured the figure skating events previously held during the Summer Games. In the modern Winter Olympics, figure skating events include men’s singles, women’s singles, pair skating, and ice dance.
Which country holds the most medals for men’s figure skating?
The United States holds the most medals for men’s figure skating at the Olympic level, with 15 total medals. Seven of these 15 medals are gold, making the United States the most successful in terms of men’s figure skating at Olympic competitions. Sweden comes in second place with a total of seven medals in Olympic figure skating. At the World Championship level, the United States holds the most medals once again, with a total of 66.
Which men’s figure skater has won the most Olympic gold medals?
Gillis Grafstrom is the male figure skater with the most Olympic gold medals. Grafstrom won a gold medal at the 1920, 1924, and 1928 Olympics. Following this, Grafstrom won a silver medal at the 1932 Olympics. This makes Grafstrom the most decorated male figure skater at the Olympic level, alongside Evgeni Plushenko. No other male figure skater has won three Olympic gold medals in a row.