Fun question, and very hard to answer. I'll try a top 10 per discipline, based mostly on accomplishments, with a little bit of what I remember from reading about/watching some of these skaters. Rankings are (more or less) chronological, because I just had too hard a time ranking them one over another.
1. Ulrich Salchow
2. Gillis Grafstrom
3. Karl Schaefer
4. Dick Button
5. David Jenkins
6. Brian Orser
7. Viktor Petrenko
8. Elvis Stojko
9. Alexei Yagudin
10. Evgeni Plushenko
Others worth mentioning: Brian Boitano, Robin Cousins, John Curry, Kurt Browning, Donald Jackson, Hayes Alan Jenkins, Ondrej Nepela, Jan Hoffman, Scott Hamilton, Philippe Candeloro, Patrick Chan
1. Sonja Henie
2. Jeanette Altwegg
3. Tenley Albright
4. Carol Heiss
5. Sjoukje Dijkstra
6. Katarina Witt
7. Michelle Kwan
8. Irina Slutskaya
9. Yu-Na Kim
10. Mao Asada
Others worth mentioning: Kristi Yamaguchi, Chen Lu, Barbara Ann Scott, Cecilia Colledge, Megan Taylor, Peggy Fleming.
1. Ludowika and Walter Jakobsson
2. Andree Joly and Pierre Brunet
3. Marika Kilius and Hans-Jurgen Baumler
4. Ludmila and Oleg Protopopov
5. Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev
6. Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev
7. Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov
8. Natalia Mishketenok and Artur Dmitriev
9. Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao
10. Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy
Others worth mentioning: Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, Ria and Paul Falk, Barbara Wagner and Robert Paul
1. Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexsandr Gorshkov
2. Irina Moiseyeva and Andrei Minenkov
3. Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko
4. Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean
5. Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin
6. Maya Usova and Alexander Zhulin
7. Oksana Grishuk and Evgeny Platov
8. Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat
9. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
10. Meryl Davis and Charlie White
Others worth mentioning: Jean Westwood and Lawrence Demmy, Eva Romanova and Pavel Roman, Diane Towler and Bernard Ford, Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay, Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto
There are four skaters I'm going to add into this discussion, because they achieved major success in more than one discipline in the early 1900s, even though their success in one discipline might not necessarily warrant mention otherwise. They are: Ernst Baier (Men's Silver [and four world medals] and Pairs Gold [and four world titles]); Madge Syers (Ladies Gold [and two-time world champion] and Pairs Bronze); Beatrix Loughran (Ladies Silver and Bronze [and world bronze], Pairs Silver); Herma Szabo (Ladies Olympic and World Gold, two-time world pairs champion)
Last edited by caseyl23; 04-25-2013 at 03:59 PM. Reason: To delete a couple names listed twice
Cool list, casey. Madge Syers also won the silver medal at the 1902 men's world championship, turning the sport of figure skating upside down. Herma Szabo won five world championships besides her Olympic gold medal and pair championships.
Cecilia Colledge would almost certainly have won the 1940 Olympics if World War II hadn't intervened, and maybe 1944 also. She skated in the 1932 Olympics at age 11 and finished 8th out of 15. (Curiously, Megan Taylor, also of Great Britain, also aged 11, finished 7th.) She was the first woman to do a double jump (Salcho), at 1936 Europeans.
Last edited by Mathman; 04-25-2013 at 03:35 PM.
Thank you! I can't believe I forgot to mention that part about Madge Syers – that's a pretty important one!
I should also note the currently-active skaters on my lists are largely pending the results of next year's Olympics. I'm assuming Kim, Asada, Savchenko/Szolkowy, Virtue/Moir and Davis/White are going to win medals next year. If any of them fails, some revisions might be necessary.