What Is The World Figure Skating Championships?

What Is The World Figure Skating Championships

Almost every international sport has an annual competition that ends each thrilling season. For figure skating, that pinnacle event is the World Figure Skating Championships. Held since 1896, just four years after the International Skating Union (ISU) was first formed, this tournament pits the very best skaters from all around the world for the top spot in their respective disciplines. Read on to learn all about the World Figure Skating Championships.

Basic Information:

  • Venue: Saitama Super Arena (changes yearly)
  • Location: Saitama, Japan (changes yearly)
  • Date: March 20-26, 2023
  • First Held: 1896
  • Most Wins: Ulrich Salchow (10), Sonja Henie (10), Irina Rodnina / Alexander Zaitsev (6), Lyudmila Pakhomova / Alexandr Gorshkov (6)


The first World Figure Skating Championships was held in 1896 in St. Petersburg, Russia. This was just four years after the establishment of the Internationale Eislauf-Vereinigung (International Skating Union) as the governing body of both speed and figure skating. This first tournament was held between four male skaters and the winner was German legend Gilbert Fuchs.

A decade later, in 1906, women’s singles was officially added to the World Figure Skating Championships. Despite tensions from certain countries surrounding concerns over indecency, pairs dancing was also added two years later in 1908. A full five decades later, in 1952, ice dancing was added as the fourth and final event to still remain in today’s competition.


The World Figure Skating Championships follows a two-staged format for each of the four disciplines. For the men’s singles and women’s singles disciplines, each skater will perform an individual shorter program, aptly titled the Short Program, followed the next day by a longer individual program, called the Free Skate. Scores for both programs will be combined into a cumulative score, and the skater with the highest score is awarded gold, the second highest with silver, and the third highest with bronze.

Pairs skating follows the same stages as singles, having both a Short Program followed by the Free Skate. Meanwhile, the Ice Dance competition has two unique stages respectively called the Rhythm Dance and the Free Dance. For each year’s Rhythm Dance, each team must perform a specific style dance on the ice, such as Latin flamenco music. The Free Dance, however, is closer to a Free Skate and is an individualized routine created by or for each pair.


The World Figure Skating Championships have strict eligibility requirements based on age, technical scores, and home nation. Firstly, every competing skater must have turned 15 years old by the beginning of the season (typically July 1 of the last year). Secondly, skaters or pairs must have scored at or above the minimum technical element scores (TES) at a senior-level ISU-recognized international competition from the ongoing season. Finally, each ISU member country can only send one to three skaters or pairs for each discipline, even if they meet the minimum required scores.


What is the World Figure Skating Championships?

The World Figure Skating Championships is the pinnacle of every international figure skating season. In March of each year, the very best skaters from around the world represent their nations and compete for the chance to medal in either men’s singles, women’s singles, pairs skating, or ice dancing. Other than the Winter Olympics, it is the most prestigious figure skating event of all time.

Who has won the most World Figure Skating Championships?

Norwegian skater Ulrich Salchow and Swedish skater Sonja Henie have won the most World Figure Skating Championships. They both won ten times for their respective disciplines, Salchow winning the men’s singles event (1901-1905, 1907-1911) and Henie winning the women’s singles event (1927-1938). Also, the Soviet pair Irina Rodnina  and Alexander Zaitsev won the pairs skating event a record six times (1973-1978), and the Soviet pair Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexandr Gorshkov won the ice dance event six times (1970-1974, 1976).