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winter sports The Top 10 Figure Skating Performances of All Time  

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This list of the top figure skating performances of all time takes into account factors such as: difficulty, speed, impact, point-of-view, choreography, performance, and the skaters overall contribution to the sport of figure skating. I limited this list to performances delivered by skaters as amateurs.

While the performances on this list date all the way back to 1968, it is weighted toward skaters who have skated under the progressive scoring system for two reasons. First, it is easier to access these performances on the internet. Second, since the implementation of progressive scoring, figure skating has grown markedly better.

Unfortunately many great skaters are not on this list. Some, like Kristi Yamaguchi, Kurt Browning, and Scott Hamilton, gave some of best performances as professional skaters. Others, like Brian Boitano, Grishuk & Platov, Gordeeva & Grinkov, Artur Dmietriev, Savchenko & Szolkowy, Davis & White, Irina Slutskaya, Sale and Pelletier, and Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze who have given performances worthy of top 20 or top 30 placement.

Sasha Cohen of the United States skating to Dark Eyes by Nikolai Morozov at the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy.

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Sasha Cohen was truly a ballerina on ice. She will go down as the best female figure skating in history never to win a World or Olympic title.

At her best, Sasha Cohen could beat anyone. She brought her game and won the short program segment over an equally impressive Irina Slutskaya at Torino in 2006. On this day, Stutskaya's effervescent personality, huge jumps, and frenzied choreography were no match for Cohen's masterful technique, extension, and musicality. In addition, Cohen brought a fire to her performance that we hadn't seen since her passionate portrayal of Carmen at Salt Lake in 2002. The difference here being that she stumbled but she did not fall.

In the long program, both Cohen and Slutskaya were sloppy and finished second and third, respectively, to a less-than-memorable Shizuka Arakawa of Japan. Suffice it to say, Cohen's energetic performance to Russian folk music would become the standout Olympic performance in figure skating across all disciplines at the 2006 Games.

Mao Asada of Japan skating to Fantaisie-Impromptu by Fréderic Chopin at the 2008 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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It is rare that a fall can elevate a program to greatness. En route to her first World title, Mao Asada became the first skater Janet Lynn in 1972 to pull herself up from the ice and end up in history.

As she prepared to step up into a triple axel, Asada lost her footing and crashed to the ice. Initially stunned, Asada recovered quickly to reel of two triple-triple combinations in a balletic, musical, intricate, and unusually vulnerable performance that helped Asada connect with the audience in a way she never had before.

Mao Asada is possibly the most underappreciated skater today. In part, this is due to her inconsistency. Also, Asada's skating is not always accessible and crowd pleasing like some of other, more popular female skaters of her generation. More than anything, she always seems to come up on the short end of the skating world's fickle, ever- changing rules. Deemed by many to be the best skater in the world in 2006, Asada was unable to compete in the Nagano Olympics because she was too young. After 2008, Asada began to draw intense scrutiny for her jumping technique that continues even today.

Mao continues to fight back, refining her technique pushing the envelope both technically and artistically. Her skating point of view is distinct, and in stark contrast to Kim Yu Na. Where Kim Yu Na has become a crowd pleasing powerhouse, Asada seems to be the somber ballerina Russia always wanted and never got. One gets the sense that the best she has to offer is yet to come. But if it does not, she will always have this historic performance along with her dramatic triumph over rival Kim Yu Na at the 2010 Worlds as a testament to her greatness.

Daisuke Takahashi of Japan skating to music from the motion picture La Strada by Nino Rota at the 2010 World Championships in Torino, Japan.

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Daisuke Takahashi is possibly the greatest male figure skater of all time. Coming back from knee surgery that kept him off the ice for nearly a year, Daisuke Takahashi had been training for just under nine months prior to the 2010 Olympic Games.

After challenging for gold but ultimately claiming bronze at the Vancouver Olympic, Takahashi claimed his first World title before a hometown crowd and almos became the first figure skater in history to perform a quadruple flip in competition; unfortunately, he two-footed the landing.

Featuring deep edges, difficult transitions, and complex footwork, Takahashi's entertaining long program to music from the motion picture La Strada would make even the great Frederico Fellini himself smile.

Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean of Great Britain skating to Bolero by Maurice Ravel at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

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Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean triumphed at the 1984 Winter Olympics with a long program that will remain the highest scoring single program in the history of figure skating under the retired 6.0 system. Choreographically, Bolero remains a benchmark even today; it is always interesting, unexpected, original, passionate, and musical.

While its choreography was progressive, this program was considered easy even by 1984 standard. Butt hardly mattered then and it certainly does not matter now. This performance captured the hearts and minds of figure skating fans then and it still does today. When both Torvill and Dean fall unexpectedly to the ice on the sudden last beat, it comes out of nowhere, and moment that should have been just insignificant became completely significant.

That is the beauty of this performance. It sort of comes out of nowhere and possibly ends nowhere too; but in the middle viewers are taken on a journey that becomes a testament to the power of movement and its ability to tell a story that feels epic in the span of four minutes.