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Very Real

6 Times Olympic Ice Skaters Killed Their Routines

When an Olympic ice skater gets in the zone, it's impossible to look away.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
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The outfits. The epic rivalries. The moves that seem to defy the limits of the human body.

Even if you can't tell a triple Axel from a triple Lutz, there's a lot to love when it comes to Olympic figure skating. From history-making routines to record-breaking programs, we are looking back at 6 times Olympic figure skaters killed it out on the ice. Watch the 2018 Winter Olympics on NBC from Feb. 8-25.

1. Debi Thomas

During the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, American Debi Thomas may not have won the gold, but she did skate her way into the history books. While it wasn't her strongest performance (she placed 4th in the long program, which bumped her from the top spot to the third), Thomas took home the bronze and became the first black athlete to win a medal in the Winter Olympics.

2. Paul Wylie

Fans didn't expect much of Paul Wylie during the 1992 Olympics. Prior to being chosen for the US team that year, Wylie had never won a U.S. championship, but he exceeded expectations when he completely owned the free skate and took home the silver medal. How's that for proving everyone wrong?

3. Nancy Kerrigan

During the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, all eyes were on Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. Mere weeks before the Games, Kerrigan was attacked and smacked above her knee with a 22-inch retractable baton by a male who would later be identified as Shane Stant, a man hired by the husband of her rival Harding to injure Kerrigan. With the eyes of the world on her, Kerrigan skated her way to a silver medal, while Harding finished eighth.

4. Tara Lipinski

The 1998 Olympic Winter Games were a big deal for Tara Lipinski. At only 15 years old, Lipinski became the youngest individual gold medalist and the youngest ladies' Olympic figure skating champ after she beat out fellow fan favorite and 1996 world champion Michelle Kwan, who won silver.

5. Yuna Kim

They don't call her "Queen Yuna" for nothing. At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, South Korea's Yuna Kim earned the highest score ever awarded to a figure skater at the time (228.56 points). Naturally, she took home the gold that year and became the first South Korean figure skater to medal at the Winter Olympics in a sport other than speed skating or short track. She was 19 years old at the time. 

6. Yulia Lipnitskaya

Yulia Lipnitskaya is on a level all her own. When she helped Russia take home the gold in the inaugural team figure skating event during the 2014 Winter Olympics, she became an overnight sensation. At just 15 years old, Lipnitskaya became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in figure skating, an honor that had previously belonged to Tara Lipinski, who's six days older than Lipnitskaya.

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[Photo: Getty Images]