Midori Ito

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Midori Ito
Ito in 1989
Personal information
Country represented Japan
Born (1969-08-13) 13 August 1969 (age 54)
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
Height1.45 m (4 ft 9 in)
Former coachMachiko Yamada
Medal record
Figure skating: Ladies' singles
Representing  Japan
Winter Olympics
Silver medal – second place 1992 Albertville Ladies' singles
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1989 Paris Ladies' singles
Silver medal – second place 1990 Halifax Ladies' singles
World Junior Championships
Bronze medal – third place 1984 Sapporo Ladies' singles
Midori Ito
Japanese name
Kanaいとう みどり

Midori Ito (伊藤みどり, Itō Midori, born 13 August 1969) is a retired Japanese figure skater. She is the 1989 World champion[1] and the 1992 Olympic silver medalist.[2] She is the first woman to land a triple-triple jump combination and a triple Axel in competition.[3][4] At the 1988 Calgary Olympics, she became the first woman to land seven triple jumps in an Olympic free skating competition.[5][6] She is widely recognised as one of the best figure skaters of all time.


Ito started skating at age four at a rink in Nagoya and approached Machiko Yamada, who would become her coach throughout her career, on the same day.[7] She landed her first triple jump at age 8. She went to live with her coach after her parents' divorce when she was 10.

Ito made her first appearance at a major international competition at the 1981 World Junior Championships. She placed 20th in the compulsory figures but won the free skating with a triple loop, a triple salchow, and two triple toe loop combinations. She finished 8th in the overall standings. At this event, the 11-year-old Ito was only 3'11" tall and weighed 53 pounds.[8] She was nicknamed the "Jumping Flea" due to her diminutive size and powerful jumps.

At the 1982 World Junior Championships, Ito won both the short program and free skating, but again weak compulsory figures kept her off the podium, in 6th place overall. Her free skating at this event included a triple flip and a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, and she landed a triple Lutz in the exhibition.[9]

Ito did not compete at the 1983 World Junior event, which took place in December 1982, after having sustained a broken ankle earlier that year. In the fall of 1983, she made her senior international debut at the Ennia Challenge Cup in the Netherlands, a competition that featured the short program and free skating only, without compulsory figures. She finished second to Katarina Witt, who went on to win the Olympic title a few months later. Ito's free skating included six triple jumps—flip, Lutz, loop, Salchow, and two toe loops—and she also completed a double loop-triple loop combination in the short program.[10] At the 1984 World Junior Championships, she won both the short program and free skating but finished third overall due to a low placement in the compulsory figures. Ito also competed at the 1984 World Championships, where she finished 7th.[11]

Ito won her first national championship in the 1985 season, but was unable to compete at that year's World Championships after again breaking her ankle. From that time on, she increased the number of triple jumps she would attempt in the free skating. From 1985 to 1987, Ito's free skating included seven triple jumps, but she would not always perform them cleanly.[12][13][14][15] She would attempt a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, a Lutz jump, a flip jump, a loop jump, a Salchow jump in combination and another solo Salchow jump.

Ito placed 5th at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. In Calgary, she performed a double loop-triple loop in the short program, and seven triples[5] in the free skating: Lutz, flip, double Axel-half loop-triple Salchow combination, loop, triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, and another Salchow.[16] She received the best technical scores given, two 5.8 and seven 5.9 marks,[5] despite skating before the final flight. Her successful seven triple jumps were two more than any of the other skaters even attempted.[5] Figure skating writer and historian Ellyn Kestnbaum speculates that Ito's low marks in compulsory figures took her out of contention for a medal, which might have influenced the judges to award her lower scores in her short and free skating programs. Kestnbaum also states that her technically-difficult free skate would have held up well against the most difficult programs performed by female single skaters ten years later, and that as of 2003, "the quality of her jumps (apart from the less-preferred high wrapped position of her free leg while in the air) has never been equaled".[17] Ito's presentation marks also suffered, despite her "high energy and pleasing cheerfulness", due to her tendency to keep her back and shoulders stiff, which resulted in a lack of fluidity and sublety in her musical expressiveness.[17]

Later that same year, she perfected the triple Axel, which she had been working on since her early teens, and landed it at a regional competition in the Aichi Prefecture.[18] She became the first woman to land it in international competition at the 1988 NHK Trophy.[19][20] She then repeated the feat at the World Championships in 1989. Ito thus became the first woman to execute all six possible triple jumps in World competition: Axel, Lutz, flip, loop, Salchow, and toe loop.[18] She was 6th in the compulsory figures[1] but made up for it. She won the gold medal with a flawless free skating when she received 6.0s for technical merit from five of the nine judges,[21] receiving 5.9s from the rest.[22] Her win at the 1989 World Championships was the first world title in the sport for an Asian competitor.[20]

During the start of the 1989–90 season, Ito made history again at the 1989 NHK Trophy competition, where she received a rare 6.0 technical/6.0 artistic score from the Hungarian judge, and again landed seven triples, including the triple Axel. At the 1990 World Championships, Ito was 10th after the compulsory figures but placed first in both the short program and the free skating and won the silver medal, second to Jill Trenary. She landed seven triple jumps in the free skating, including the triple Axel.[18] Compulsory figures were eliminated from competitions following that season.[23] Ito commented: "In training, I spend about two-thirds of my time on the figures. So I will sort of miss them as part of my life. But I will not miss them in the actual event."[7] In June 1990, she was invited to meet Emperor Akihito.[7]

Ito had chronically sore knees due to her jumps.[24] In February 1991, she underwent surgery to remove two glandular cysts in her throat and was in the hospital for 18 days.[25] In March, at the 1991 World Championships, Ito collided with France's Laetitia Hubert during a practice session – her hip and the top of her foot were bruised.[24] In the short program, she placed her jump combination too close to the corner of the rink and fell into the opening in the boards for the television camera but was back on the ice within seconds.[24] She finished 4th at the event.

At the 1991 Grand Prix International de Paris – a pre-Olympic event in Albertville – Ito beat Kristi Yamaguchi by completing a triple Axel and five other triple jumps in her free skating. During the warm-up before the free skating, she landed a triple Axel-triple toe loop jump combination.

Ito on an Azerbaijani postage stamp

The 1992 Winter Olympics did not include the compulsory figures which caused Ito to lose the World championships the year before even after winning the short program and free skating competitions. With only the short program and the free skating to perform, she became the heiress apparent to Katarina Witt.[23] She planned to perform the triple Axel combined with a double toe loop for the jump combination requirement in the short program[26] but changed it to a triple Lutz combination. Ito placed fourth in the short program when she fell on her triple Lutz jump.[27] In comparison, Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan completed their triple Lutz-double toe loop combinations and then placed one and two, respectively. The change may have an interesting origin. During a practice session, Surya Bonaly of France performed a back flip near her.[28] Ito was nearly hit on the head and was obviously shaken.[27] Subsequently, her practice with her triple Axel jumps turned out poorly, which may have led her to take it out of the original program. Ito's free skating began with a failed triple Axel but she attempted it again at the end of her program and landed it successfully, becoming the first woman to land one in the Olympics. She won the silver medal, and apologized to her country for not winning the gold.[2] Ito turned professional afterwards, bringing the triple Axel for the first time to the professional ranks, and performed with ice shows in Japan. She briefly returned to competitive skating in the 1995–96 season, but without her former success.

During the peak of her career, Ito performed much the same jump content as the top male skaters of the time. She was the first ladies' skater to perform a triple-triple jump combination and the first to perform the triple Axel. In March 1990, Jill Trenary said, "I was in awe of how high she jumps."[7] In 1990, Scott Hamilton said "it will be 50 years before we see anything like Midori Ito again,"[29] and Toller Cranston, the same year, noted that "she is beyond 6.0."[30] Her mastery of triple jumps, including the triple axel, was the start of "a new era in women's skating", before several triple jumps, usually of five different types, became the norm in championship free skating programs.[17]

Ito lit the Olympic Cauldron during the opening ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Ito returned to competitive figure skating in 2011. She competed at the ISU Adult Figure Skating Competition and placed second in her category, Ladies' Masters Elite II.[20][31][32] Ito repeated her second-place finish the following year. In 2013, on her third year competing at the ISU Adult Figure Skating Championship, she took the title with a 12 points margin over the second place.[33][34]



Season Free skating


Season Short program Free skating Exhibition

  • Rhythm of the Rain
    by The Cascades
  • Singin' in the Rain
    by Nacio Herb Brown
  • Over the Rainbow
    by Harold Arlen

  • On My Own
    by Claude-Michel Schonberg
  • Yotei no Matsuri[35]
    by Yasuhiro Sakurada

  • On My Own
    by Claude-Michel Schonberg
  • Fantastic Tango[35]
    by Shinji Wakita

  • Yotei no Matsuri[35]
    by Yasuhiro Sakurada

  • Sweet Dreamer[35]
    by Yoko Takarada
  • Magical City[35]
    by Mika Yamashita
  • Tyrolean fairy[35]
    by Mika Yamashita, Chihiro Yamashita
  • Magical City[35]
    by Mika Yamashita
  • Sweet Dreamer[35]
    by Yoko Takarada
  • Ice Paradice[35]
    by Tokiko Tsunoda
  • Sweet Dreamer[35]
    by Yoko Takarada

  • Unknown
  • Kotoriya-no-Mise (The Bird Shop)



Event 79–80 80–81 81–82 82–83 83–84 84–85 85–86 86–87 87–88 88–89 89–90 90–91 91–92 95–96
Olympics 5th 2nd
Worlds 7th 11th 8th 6th 1st 2nd 4th 7th
Skate America 2nd 2nd
Skate Canada 1st
Fujifilm Trophy 1st
Int. de Paris 1st
NHK Trophy 1st 1st 2nd 2nd 1st 1st 1st 1st
Prague Skate 1st
International Challenge Cup 2nd
International: Junior
Junior Worlds 8th 6th 3rd
Japan Champ. 3rd 2nd 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Japan Junior 1st 1st

Records and achievements[edit]


  • First World Champion from an Asian country (1989).
  • First woman to land a triple-triple jump combination (1981).
  • First woman to land a double loop-triple loop combination (in the short program) (1983).
  • First woman to land five different triple jumps in competition (1983).
  • First woman to land a triple Axel in competition (1988).
  • First woman to land six different triple jumps in competition (1989).
  • First woman to land a triple Axel in the Olympics (1992).


Triple Axel[edit]

Ito landed 18 triple Axels in competition.

1988–89 Aichi Prefecture Championships (FS)
Japanese Free Skating Championships (FS)
NHK Trophy (FS)
Japan Figure Skating Championships (FS)
World Championships (FS)
1989–90 NHK Trophy (FS)
World Championships (FS)
1990–91 East Japan Championships (FS)
NHK Trophy (FS)
Japan Figure Skating Championships (FS)
1991–92 East Japan Championships (FS)
Trophee Lalique (FS)
NHK Trophy (SP(combination with double toe loop), FS(combination with double toe loop))
Japan Figure Skating Championships (SP(combination with double toe loop), FS)
Winter Olympics (FS)
1995–96 Japan Figure Skating Championships (FS)

Media appearances[edit]


  • 伊藤みどりのフィギュアスケート・ライフ努力編 (2006) – ASIN B000O77KHK
  • 伊藤みどりのフィギュアスケート・ライフ人生編 (2007) – ASIN B000OI1BXS
  • 伊藤みどりのフィギュアスケート・ライフ (2007) – ASIN B000SB2ZT0


  • タイム・パッセージ―時間旅行(1993)- ISBN 978-4-314-10081-6
  • 伊藤みどり物語 (1992) – ISBN 978-4-87208-036-0
  • 氷上の宝石―伊藤みどり写真集 (1993) – ISBN 978-4-317-80036-2

In other media[edit]

  • She is briefly seen in the film I, Tonya (2017) played by actress Fi Dieter in an uncredited role.


  1. ^ a b "Mite Makes Right". Sports Illustrated Vault. 27 March 1989. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Names In The Game". The Associated Press. 25 April 1992. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  3. ^ "中部英傑伝". Archived from the original on 4 January 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2009.
  4. ^ Meyers, Dvora (14 February 2014). "Has Figure Skating Maxed Out In Difficulty?". Deadspin. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Hersh, Phil (28 February 1988). "No Contest: Witt Wins". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  6. ^ "- YouTube". YouTube.
  7. ^ a b c d Janofsky, Michael (7 March 1990). "Soaring Slam-Dunk Leaper on Ice". The New York Times.
  8. ^ "1981 Jr. World's Report". Skating magazine. March 1981.
  9. ^ "1982 Junior World Championships". Skating magazine. March 1982.
  10. ^ "Ennia Challenge Cup". Skating magazine. January 1984.
  11. ^ Skating magazine. April 1984.
  12. ^ "Midori Ito JPN - 1985 NHK Trophy LP". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  13. ^ "Midori Ito - 1986 World Championships Long Program". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  14. ^ "Midori Ito 1987 Worlds Long Program". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  15. ^ "Midori Ito 伊藤 みどり (JPN)- 1987 NHK Trophy, Ladies' Long Program". YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
  16. ^ "Video 1988 Winter Olympics". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  17. ^ a b c Kestnbaum, Ellyn (2003). Culture on Ice: Figure Skating and Cultural Meaning. Middleton, Connecticut: Wesleyan Publishing Press. p. 138. ISBN 0-8195-6641-1.
  18. ^ a b c Lubarsky, Jared (10 March 1991). "Power Skating". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 18 September 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  19. ^ Maine, D'Arcy (17 December 2017). "Tonya Harding and the seven other women skaters who have successfully landed the triple axel". ESPN. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  20. ^ a b c Flade, Tatjana (18 September 2011). "Midori Ito Returns to Competition". IFS Magazine. Archived from the original on 25 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  21. ^ Written at Paris. "World Figure Skating Championships : Japan's Midori Ito Is Flawless in Victory". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. 19 March 1989. Archived from the original on 16 June 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2021 – via Associated Press.
  22. ^ "Figure Skating Japan's Ito takes Gold; Trenary Stumbles to 3rd". South Florida Sun Sentinel. 19 March 2019. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  23. ^ a b Swift, E.M (18 July 1988). "A Change That Figures". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  24. ^ a b c Janofsky, Michael (16 March 1991). "Ito Survives Hard Knocks and Gains 3d Place". The New York Times.
  25. ^ Janofsky, Michael (12 March 1991). "A Triple Axel With Rippling Effects". The New York Times.
  26. ^ Hersh, Phil (19 February 1988). "Ito Ready to Jump for Gold". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  27. ^ a b Harvey, Randy (20 February 1992). "Yamaguchi, Kerrigan Jump Over Ito : Figure skating: Americans 1-2 after Japanese champion falls in original program. Harding also stumbles". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  28. ^ "French skater comes close in bid for first quad toe loop". Toledo Blade. 22 February 1992. Retrieved 5 May 2016 – via Google.
  29. ^ "Midori Ito 1990 Worlds LP (USTV)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  30. ^ "Midori Ito LP 1990 World Figure Skating Championships". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  31. ^ Flade, Tatjana (17 August 2011). "Adult Skaters Embrace Lifelong Passion". IFS Magazine. Archived from the original on 10 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  32. ^ "ISU Adult Figure Skating Competition 2011 - Masters (Elite) Ladies II Free Skating - Free Skating" (PDF). www.deu-event.de. 11 June 2011.
  33. ^ "ISU Adult Figure Skating Competition 2013 - Masters (Elite) Ladies II Free Skating - Free Skating". www.deu-event.de. 18 May 2013.
  34. ^ "Midori Ito at the ISU Adult Competition 2013 in Oberstdorf, Germany". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Composed by students studying at Yamaha Music Schools.

External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by Final Olympic torchbearer
Nagano 1998
Succeeded by
Preceded by Final Winter Olympic torchbearer
Nagano 1998
Succeeded by