Irina Slutskaya

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Not to be confused with Irina Slutsky.
Irina Slutskaya
Irina Slutskaya 2006.jpg
Irina Slutskaya in 2006
Personal information
Country represented Russia
Born (1979-02-09) 9 February 1979 (age 35)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Residence Moscow, Russia
Height 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in)
Coach Zhanna Gromova
Skating club Sport Club Moskvitch
Began skating 1984
Retired 2006
ISU personal best scores
Combined total 198.06
2005 Cup of Russia
Short program 70.22
2005 Cup of China
Free skate 130.48
2005 Cup of Russia

Irina Eduardovna Slutskaya (Russian: Ири́на Эдуа́рдовна Слу́цкая Irina Eduardovna Slutskaya About this sound (listen) ; born 9 February 1979) is a Russian figure skater. She is a two-time World champion (2002, 2005), two-time Olympic medalist (silver in 2002, bronze in 2006), seven-time European Champion (1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006), a four-time Grand Prix Final Champion (2000–2002, 2005) and a four-time Russian National Champion (2000–2002, 2005). Slutskaya, known for her athletic ability, was the first female skater to land a triple lutz-triple loop combination.[1] She is also known for her trademark double Biellmann spin with a foot change, which she also invented. With her women's record seven-time triumph at the European Championships she is generally considered to be the most successful ladies' singles skater in Russian history.


Slutskaya competing in 2005

Slutskaya started skating at the age of four, encouraged by her mother.[2] Coached by Zhanna Gromova from the age of six,[2] Slutskaya won a total of 40 gold medals, 21 silver medals, and 18 bronze medals.

Slutskaya first made her mark as a promising junior skater by winning the bronze medal at the 1993 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Colorado Springs. This would be the beginning of a famous 12 year rivalry with American legend Michelle Kwan, who won gold at this same event.

In the 1994-1995 season, Slutskaya continued her rise towards the elite of the sport. She won the World Junior title in Budapest, and finished 3rd at Russian Nationals in a very strong ladies field to qualify for her first Europeans. She finished a strong 5th at Europeans, coming back from a fall in the short to skate the 3rd best long program, and qualify for Worlds along with silver medalist Olga Markova, by outplacing Russian Champion Maria Butyrskaya (who finished 7th). At Worlds she again fell in the short, but rebounded with a very strong 6 triple long program to finish 5th in the long, and 7th overall.

The 1995-1996 season would see Irina truly cement herself as one of the top skaters in the World and a contender in every event she entered. She qualified for the sports first ever Grand Prix final, and surprised many by winning the silver medal behind Michelle Kwan, and finishing ahead of reigning World Champion Lu Chen (who finished 4th). She was the only skater at the event to deliver 2 clean programs.Slutskaya became the first Russian woman to win the European title, dethroning the 5 time defending Champion Surya Bonaly, with a flawless 6 triple program. She also won the Centennial on Ice, defeating a strong field of women, and handing Michelle Kwan her only defeat of the season (Kwan would finish 3rd behind Maria Butyrskaya). She went to Worlds as a strong medal hopeful in one of the all time toughest fields including event favorite Michelle Kwan, defending World Champion Lu Chen, 3 time defending silver medalist Surya Bonaly, her teammate Maria Butyrskaya, and returning Japanese legend Midori Ito. She skated a strong short program, and then recovered from a very bad early fall to cleanly land 6 triples and win the bronze medal.

1996-1997 season saw the start of a slump in form. She did win her first ever grand prix outing at Skate Canada, beating rising star Tara Lipinski, and went on to go undefeated in the grand prix series with 3 victories.However due to a growth spurt her reliable jumps of the previous years had become more inconsistent. Many expected her to contend for the gold medal at the Grand Prix final but mistakes left her in a disappointing 3rd place behind new U.S Champion Tara Lipinski and longtime rival Michelle Kwan. She repeated as European champion in 1997 with perhaps her best performance of the season, landing 7 triples (one with a slightly flawed landing).She went into the World Championships in Lausanne as a medal favorite and gold medal hopeful.However a missed combination in the short program left her in 6th place. She then incurred a back injury from a hard fall in practice the day of the long program. She came back to deliver a very strong skate, with 6 clean triples, and a successful triple salchow-triple loop combination, and came close to winning the long program with 3 1st place votes. Nonetheless her poor short program meant she narrowly finished fourth in the 1997.

In 1997-1998 her struggles continued and she finished 4th at the Russian Nationals, putting her Olympic spot in jeapordy.She then finished 4th at the Grand Prix final, which was enough to earn her spot on the Russian Olympic team. At the 1998 Winter Olympics, she finished fifth behind Chen Lu and Maria Butyrskaya, losing ground with a poor short program where she did a double lutz-double toe but nearly coming back to win a medal with a strong 5 triple long program.In the end Lu Chen edged Butyrskaya 5–4 for the bronze and Slutskaya 6–3. The next month, Slutskaya won silver at the 1998 World Championships, coming back from a fall in the short and successfully landing two triple-triple combinations in the long program.Her career would then an all time low though when she did not win any competitions in the 1998–99 season and missed both the European and the World Championships. She considered leaving competition but decided to continue.[3]

Slutskaya made a successful comeback in the 1999-2000 season, winning her first grand prix event since 1996 at Cup of Russia, and defeating reigning World Champion Maria Butyrskaya to win her first ever Russian National title.She then won the 2000 Grand Prix Final, defeating both Butyrskaya and U.S rival Michelle Kwan. She was in 2nd place behind Michelle going into the 2 women super final, where both women were assigned to skate one program head to head, with the higher placing of the two in that one performance determing the winner. She landed seven clean triples, including two triple-triple combinations and became the first woman to do a triple lutz-triple loop combination. She later won her third European title and entered the World Championships as the gold medal favorite. After winning her qualifying pool over Michelle Kwan, and placing 2nd to teammate Maria Butyrskaya in the short program she had to settle for the silver medal though after turning her planned triple salchow-triple loop into a double salchow, and ending with 6 clean triples without a triple-triple as compared to a spectacular skate by Michelle Kwan with 7 triples and a triple-triple in winning the gold.Irina finishing 2nd in the long program had paved the way for Michelle to win from 3rd place, needing someone to place between her and Maria in the long program to win.

Irina would dominate the 2000-2001 season, defeating Michelle Kwan to win Skate Canada, defending her title at the Grand Prix final, and convincingly winning her 4th European title. Again she entered Worlds as the gold medal favorite.At the 2001 World Championships convincingly won the short program. In the free skate, Slutskaya became the first woman to land a triple salchow-triple loop-double toe loop combination but again had to settle for the silver medal. She lost in a 7–2 decision to Michelle Kwan. Kwan had no visible mistakes while Slutskaya two-footed her triple lutz-triple loop-double toe loop combination and had problems on two other landings.

Slutskaya's 2001-2002 season saw her cement a season of dominance in her great rivalry with American legend Michelle Kwan, winning all 5 of their meetings.However she also saw a new challenge from the 2001 World bronze medalist Sarah Hughes, who would defeat her at Skate Canada, and who would cause the shock of the skating year at the upcoming Salt Lake Olympics. She won her first Goodwill Games title, and proceeded on to win her 3rd straight Grand Prix final in controversial fashion. Irina convincingly won the first two programs of the event, but had an uncharacteristic 2nd free skate with only 3 clean triples. 3 judges placed her 3rd behind Kwan and Hughes, which would have dropped her behind Kwan overall, but 4 others placed her 1st, giving her the victory. After winning her 3rd straight Russian title, she would lose her European title to Maria Butyrskaya. A fall in the short program put her 3rd in that phase, and although she won the long program it was not enough to overcome her deficit. She then won silver at the 2002 Winter Olympics and became the second Russian ever to win a medal in the women's event (Kira Ivanova was the bronze at the 1984 Olympics).The competition had been billed in advance as a head-to-head battle between Slutskaya and American Michelle Kwan. After the short program, as expected, Kwan and Slutskaya placed first and second with Sasha Cohen and Sarah Hughes of the U.S. placing third and fourth, respectively. Kwan finished behind fellow American Sarah Hughes in the overall standings. Slutskaya had to win the free skate in order to win gold but Hughes won the free skate in a 5–4 decision.Hughes skated her best performance ever, with 7 triples and 2 successful triple-triple combinations, while Irina skated tenatively, not attempting any triple-triples, and having rough landings on 2 jumps. Russia, still somewhat aggrieved about the outcome of an earlier dispute over the pairs competition, filed a complaint against the result but it was rejected shortly.

The next month, Slutskaya won the 2002 World title in Nagano. Slutskaya finished first in both the qualifying round and the short program, followed by Fumie Suguri and Michelle Kwan. Although Slutskaya could place second to Kwan in the free skate and still win, she won a majority of the judges' votes in the segment. It was her first World title.

Illness and comeback[edit]

Slutskaya had a rough 2002-2003 season, suffering defeats at her grand prix outings, and losing at the Grand Prix Final where she had won the last 3 years to rising star Sasha Cohen.Sasha landed 6 triples to Irina's 4 to come from behind and win. Nonetheless she recovered to come from behind and defeat the in form Elena Sokolova (who had beaten her at Nationals) to win her 5th European title. She chose not to compete at the 2003 World Championships after receiving news that her mother had fallen seriously ill, requiring a kidney transplant. The initial transplant was rejected and another one had to be performed.[4] However, soon after her mother's condition began improving, Slutskaya's own health sharply deteriorated, including fatigue and swelling in the legs.[4] She went to several hospitals which struggled to correctly diagnose her condition.[4] Doctors told her that she should stay away from the cold, but she refused and finished 9th at the 2004 World Championships.

She was diagnosed with vasculitis.[1][5] In 2005, Slutskaya made a comeback after a long stay at a hospital. Amazingly this season would be her most successful and dominant ever, as for the only time in her career she went undefeated, winning every competition for the season she entered.She thrived under the new scoring system which heavily rewarded her exceptionally strong jumps, strong spins, difficult footwork, use of Biellman spins and positions, and speed and power. She won the 2005 European Championships, matching the record for the most European titles in ladies' singles. At the 2005 World Championships, Slutskaya was first after the short program and skated last in the free skate, winning the title with a spectacular 7 triple performance, that featured a clean triple lutz-triple loop combination. In an interview, she said:

This is the question they ask: how could you get up after your fall last year? That's not right at all. You can't talk that way. When a person is ill, it's not a fall, it's a misfortune. And no one, unfortunately, is safe from that. I only want to say to those who don't believe in their [own capacity for] recovery: believe, fight...I got up — you can too.

She said the 2005 World Championships free skate was "the skate of her life" because "she was in front of her friends and family, and she was skating at home".[citation needed] On January 19, 2006, Slutskaya won the European Championships for the seventh time, becoming the most successful ladies' skater at the European Championships, breaking the record she had shared with history's only 2 muti Olympic ladies singles Champions- Sonja Henie and Katarina Witt.

At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Slutskaya was considered the odds on favorite to win the gold medal, especially after 15 year old Mao Asada who had upset her at that years Grand Prix final was narrowly ruled out of the Olympics by the new age regulations . She was in second place after the short program by only 0.03, behind Sasha Cohen of the United States. In the long program, Slutskaya doubled a triple flip and then fell on a triple loop jump. She won the bronze medal, behind gold medalist Shizuka Arakawa of Japan and silver medalist Cohen. Slutskaya did not compete in the 2006 Worlds the following month. In November 2006, she denied reports that claimed she was retiring from competitive figure skating, saying the reports were completely false.[6]

Post-competitive career[edit]

On 10 April 2007, Slutskaya announced she was returning to Russia from the United States and would not participate on the 2007 Champions on Ice tour since she and her husband, Sergei, were expecting a child.[7] Slutskaya stated that she enjoyed motherhood and had no plans to return to competitive skating. "I don’t see the target," she said. "I don’t know why I have to go there. I have almost all the titles."[8]

She began a career in showbusiness. She presented figure skating reality shows on Russia Channel 1 "Stars on Ice" with co-host Evgeni Plushenko and "Ice Age" with actor Marat Basharov.[9] She has also released a CD.[10] In 2008, she took part in a Russian TV soap opera about figure skating "Hot Ice".[11] She also toured as the lead skater in the Russian version of the show "Winx on Ice".[12]

In November 2008, Slutskaya performed in the "Skate from the Heart" show.[13] In 2009, she was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.[14]

In 2011, Slutskaya also participated in 2010 Winter Olympic champion Kim Yu-Na ice show All That Skate Summer. In October 2012, Slutskaya competed in the first Medal Winner's Open, an event for Olympic and World medalists. She placed third in the ladies' field.[15][16] She is an ambassador for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Slutskaya was born in 1979 in Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union, the only child of a Russian mother and Jewish father. Slutskaya was raised in the Russian Orthodox faith and was known to cross herself in most of her competitions.[18] Her mother was a former cross-country skier for the Soviet Union.[19]

Slutskaya married her boyfriend, Sergei Mikheev, in August 1999.[20] They met each other three years earlier at a summer camp near Moscow, where Mikheev was a physical education instructor. She gave birth to a son, Artem, in November 2007 in Moscow.[21] An only child who longed for siblings, she said she would like another baby.[21] In October 2010, she gave birth to their second child, a daughter named Varvara.[22][23][24]

Records and achievements[edit]

  • Invented the double Biellmann spin with foot change
  • First Russian woman to win European title (1996)
  • First woman to land triple lutz, triple loop combination in competition (2000 Grand Prix Final)
  • First woman to land a triple salchow, triple loop, double toe-loop combination (2001 World Championships)
  • First Russian woman skater to win a silver medal at the Olympics (2002 Salt Lake City)
  • Four-time Russian Nationals champion
  • Record holder for most Grand Prix Final titles won by a woman. Record later tied by Mao Asada.
  • First (and only) woman ever to win seven European titles (2006)


Event 1992–93 1993–94 1994–95 1995–96 1996–97 1997–98 1998–99 1999–00 2000–01 2001–02 2002–03 2003–04 2004–05 2005–06
Olympics 5th 2nd 3rd
Worlds 7th 3rd 4th 2nd 2nd 2nd 1st WD 9th 1st
Europeans 5th 1st 1st 2nd 1st 1st 2nd 1st WD 1st 1st
GP (CS) Final 2nd 3rd 4th 3rd 1st 1st 1st 2nd 1st 2nd
GP Cup of China 1st 1st
GP Cup of Russia 1st 1st 3rd 1st 1st 1st 3rd 1st 1st
GP Lalique 4th
GP Nations/Spark. 1st 2nd 3rd
GP NHK Trophy 2nd 1st 2nd
GP Skate America 3rd 3rd
GP Skate Canada 1st 3rd 1st 2nd
Goodwill Games 6th 5th 1st
Finlandia 1st
Nebelhorn 1st 1st
Universiade 2nd
International: Junior
Junior Worlds 8th 3rd 1st
Russian Champ. 3rd 3rd 2nd 3rd 4th 4th 1st 1st 1st 2nd WD 1st
Russian Jr. Champ. 1st
GP = Grand Prix (Champions Series 1995–1997); WD = Withdrew


Season Short program Free skating Exhibition
  • Mario Takes a Walk
    by Jesse Cook
  • Rhumba
  • Flamenco
    by Didulia

  • Catwoman
  • Shine

  • Never Be the Same Again


  • Timeless
  • Free Yourself
  • Ballet For Carolyn Carlson
  • Piano Waltz
  • Ah, Nastasia
    by Ossipov Balalaika Ensemble

  • Russian folk dance
  • Gauglione
  • Il Bel Canto
    (from The Phantom of the Opera on Ice)
    by Roberto Danova
  • Overture (Dance of the Four Muses)
    (from The Phantom of the Opera on Ice)
    by Roberto Danova
  • Tico Tico

  • Broadway show tunes
  • New York, New York
  • The Heart of Budapest
  • Csárdás
  • Heire Kati
    by Vidor, Monti, Hubay

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Irina SLUTSKAYA: 2005/2006". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 2 July 2006. 
  2. ^ a b Mittan, J. Barry (1997). "Irina Slutskaya". Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Rymer, Thomas (26 November 1999). "Russians get near sweep of women's and pairs". Associated Press (CBS Sportsline). 
  4. ^ a b c Lisitsyn, Lina (2 March 2009). "Ирина Слуцкая: «Семья всегда была дороже титулов»" [Irina Slutskaya: "Family has always been more valuable than titles"] (in Russian). Retrieved 3 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "Ирина Слуцкая, недавно излечившаяся от серьезной болезни, может снова попасть в больницу" [Irina Slutskaya, has recently been cured of serious illness, may again be placed in the hospital] (in Russian). 15 January 2004. Archived from the original on 7 April 2008. 
  6. ^ "Irina Slutskaya Dismisses Retirement Report". Archived from the original on 7 September 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2007. 
  7. ^ "Slutskaya returning to Russia because of pregnancy". Associated Press (International Herald Tribune). 10 April 2007. Archived from the original on 28 February 2009. 
  8. ^ "Slutskaya Is Savoring New Phase of Her Life". Associated Press (The New York Times). 22 November 2008. 
  9. ^ "Ирина Слуцкая" [Irina Slutskaya] (in Russian). Archived from the original on 22 September 2010. 
  10. ^ "Ирина Слуцкая штурмует музыкальный Олимп" [Irina Slutskaya stormed musical Olympus] (in Russian). 12 April 2006. Archived from the original on 1 February 2011. 
  11. ^ "Жаркий лед" [Hot Ice] (in Russian). 2008. Archived from the original on 23 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Ледовое Шоу «Winx НА ЛЬДУ»" [Winx on Ice Ice Show] (in Russian). 26 January 2010. Archived from the original on 20 February 2010. 
  13. ^ "Amway Global Skate from the Heart 2008". Disson Skating. Archived from the original on 16 March 2009. 
  14. ^ "Jewish Sports Hall of Fame: Elected members Irina Slutskaya". Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  15. ^ "Japan hosts three star-studded events this week". IceNetwork. October 2012. 
  16. ^ "Japan Open 2012 and Open Medal Winner, stars in world race". (in Italian). 10 October 2012. 
  17. ^ Castellaro, Barbara (26 October 2012). "Irina Slutskaya “I ricordi mi hanno portata da Nagano a Sochi”" [Irina Slutskaya interview]. (in Italian). 
  18. ^ Eden, Ami. "How Gold Medalist Sarah Hughes Skated under the "Jewish Radar"". Interfaith Family. 
  19. ^ Gschwind, Lee Ann. "Slutskaya: 'I skate because I can'". NBC Olympic Research. Archived from the original on 17 January 2006. 
  20. ^ a b "Irina SLUTSKAYA: 2002/2003". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 9 October 2003. 
  21. ^ a b "Ирина СЛУЦКАЯ, cемикратная чемпионка Европы по фигурному катанию: Недоброжелатели предрекали мне бездетный брак" [European champion in figure skating: detractors had predicted I would have a childless marriage] (in Russian). Komsomolskaya Pravda. 22 November 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2010. 
  22. ^ "Ирина Слуцкая во второй раз стала мамой" [Irina Slutskaya for the second time became a mother] (in Russian). 22 November 2010. Retrieved 22 November 2010. 
  23. ^ Paderina, Ksenia (26 November 2010). "Ирина Слуцкая: "Я попросила хирурга развернуть монитор и увидела, как рождается мой ребенок"" [Irina Slutskaya: "I asked the surgean to turn the monitor and watched the birth of my child"]. Теленеделя (Москва) (in Russian). Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  24. ^ Likhacheva, Polina (26 June 2013). "Ирина Слуцкая: «Материнство — это слезы радости, перемешанные с усталостью»" [Irina Slutskaya: "Motherhood is tears of joy mixed with fatigue] (in Russian). 
  25. ^ "Competition Results: Irina SLUTSKAYA". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. 
  26. ^ "Irina SLUTSKAYA: 2004/2005". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 3 April 2005. 
  27. ^ "Irina SLUTSKAYA: 2003/2004". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 3 June 2004. 
  28. ^ "Irina SLUTSKAYA: 2001/2002". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 17 June 2002. 
  29. ^ "Irina SLUTSKAYA: 2000/2001". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 17 June 2001. 

External links[edit]

World Records Holder
Preceded by
United States Sasha Cohen
Ladies' Total Score
26 November 2005 – 2 December 2006
Succeeded by
Japan Mao Asada