My personal favorite figure skating programs of 2022

A+photo+I+took+at+the+2019+US+Nationals%2C+which+were+held+in+Detroit.

A photo I took at the 2019 US Nationals, which were held in Detroit.

2022 was a year full of drama, scandals, and new records for the figure skating community. The winter Olympics occurred, Illia Malinin became the first person ever to land a quadruple axel, Yuzuru Hanyu retired, and much more. However, among the chaos, scandals, and history being made, there were some defining moments and beautifully executed programs.

Call me a fake fan, but I didn’t watch very many competitions last season. I watched U.S. Nationals which took place in January, the Olympics which took place in February, as well as some other Grand Prix events and routines here and there. 

With that being said, this list will mainly stem from Nationals and the Olympics, which occurred during the 2021-2022 season. Competitions at the senior level are made up of a short and a long program—also called a free skate—for each skater, and this list will be a blend of both. In no particular order, here are my favorite, most memorable programs from this past year.

1. Isabeau Levito’s short program, “The Swan” by Joshua Bell

I vividly remember watching this program last January and thinking it was stunning. This program was Levito’s senior-level debut, and I was immediately struck by the feeling that she was going to be a large part of the future of figure skating. This clean routine put her in fourth place before the long program, which was—and still is—very impressive for her first time skating as a senior at such high stakes. Levito skated this program so gracefully and her technical ability shone through as well. Each and every detail of this program felt intentional yet effortless, and I admire her ability to execute it as such.

2. Karen Chen’s free skate, “Butterfly Lovers Concerto” by Takako Nishizaki

Every time Chen takes the ice, I am captivated, and this time was no different. She placed second at nationals, a mere 2.4 points away from gold. Chen’s breathtaking spirals and edges flowed together wonderfully as she hit every musical cue.

I was entranced by the intensity she skated, and it was clear to everyone watching that she put her whole heart into her skate.”

3. Karen Chen’s short program, “Requiem for a Dream Soundtrack” by Clint Mansell

This program once again showed just how incredible Chen’s musicality is. I am a sucker for programs where the choreography involves specific moves designed to align with the music, especially since that makes it difficult to skate. I usually don’t enjoy programs with very dark and dramatic music, yet Chen made the program her own. I was entranced by the intensity she skated, and it was clear to everyone watching that she put her whole heart into her skate.

4. Kamila Valieva’s short program, “In Memoriam” by Kirill Richter

I could write a whole other article about Valieva about all the drama and my opinions on it, but I’ll spare the details and instead discuss solely her ability as a figure skater. Upon seeing this program for the first time, my jaw practically dropped. I had yet to see a skater who had so successfully and impressively combined artistic and technical ability, instead of being so inclined toward one or the other. I truly believe even with the scandal surrounding Valieva, her skating will go down in history for the right reasons.

5. Kamila Valieva’s free skate, “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel

This is another program that will be remembered for a long time. The music choice suited Valieva perfectly, her red gloves designed to accentuate her difficult arm positions were brilliant, and the technical difficulty broke multiple records. Even though her Olympic performance in this program was a mess, it lived an impressive life and will remain on my mind for years to come.

2022 was a unique year for figure skaters and fans around the globe, but hopefully, it will be remembered for more than just the drama. There were many magnificent programs I failed to mention, and many I haven’t watched that escaped this list. Here’s to another year of being in awe of the graceful athleticism that is figure skating.