Midori Ito made her debut at the adult worlds this June. The 1989 World Figure Skating Champion, who made history by landing the first triple Axel in world competition, competed in the ISU Adult Figure Skating Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany.
Ito finished second to Jan Calnan in the Masters Elite II level.
While there were only two competitors in the division, Ito showed joy for her skating not seen in years.
Ito first leaped onto the scene in the early 1980s and quickly smashed records. She made history at the age of 12 as the first woman to do a triple-triple combination at the junior worlds in 1981. As Ito rose to the senior ranks, her trail of dominance continued.
At the 1988 Calgary Olympics, she sailed through her long program and nailed an unprecedented seven triples. She’s credited with the first triple Axel by a woman at international competition in 1989, and the Olympics in 1992.
While Ito’s performance in Oberstdorf didn’t contain the triple Axel, or any triples for that matter, at the age of 41 she seemed almost childlike – shades of Calgary.
While Ito didn’t dominate the sport as many thought she would with the elimination of the compulsories – her nemesis – her problems were never met with excuses, but apologies. Ito was anything but a drama queen – and people were drawn to her charm.
Although Ito was considered a top contender, she never landed on top of the world podium again after 1989, which proves it’s not the colour of the medal a skater wins, or the amount of accolades they achieve in order to crown them as a crowd favourite.
It’s the impression they make.