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Figure Skating at the 1972 Sapporo Winter Games

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Host City: Sapporo, Japan
Date Started: February 4, 1972
Date Finished: February 11, 1972
Events: 3

Participants: 67 (32 men and 35 women) from 18 countries
Youngest Participant: URS Marina Sanaya (13 years, 28 days)
Oldest Participant: URS Sergey Chetverukhin (26 years, 27 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 12 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): URS Soviet Union (3 medals)


As figure skating became more and more a telegenic sport, the skaters, coaches, and media all wanted more emphasis on free skating, which was virtually all that was ever televised. But the officials had been resistant, until the 1971 International Skating Union Congress when the competition schedules were all changed. Men and women would skate only three compulsory figures, down from five. In addition, they would also add a third phase to their competition, with a short program consisting of six required free skating elements. The total scores would now consist of 40% from the free skate, 40% from the compulsory figures, and 20% from the short program. Thus free skating and short program would become more important than compulsory figures, contributing 60% to the final score. Overall scoring was still conducted by majority ordinals. Pairs continued to skate a short program, with required elements, and a free skating program, with the total score coming 2/3rd’s from the free skate, and 1/3rd from the short program. However, the ISU made the ruling that these changes would not occur until after the 1972 competition season, thus the old rules and competition format were still used in Sapporo. For men and women, the total score was still 50% compulsory figures and 50% free skating, with five compulsory figures being used. For one American skater, [Janet Lynn], considered by many the greatest female free skater ever, the change would come too late. Notoriously weak in the compulsories, she would win only bronze in Sapporo and never won a World or Olympic title. All the 1972 figure skating competition was held indoors, with compulsory figures at the Mikado Skating Rink, and free skating at the Makomanai Skating Rink.