Described by Sports Illustrated as "technically the best female skater in the world," Slutskaya won the 2005 World Championships on March 18, 2005, despite battling a blood-vessel disorder that nearly ended her career. It was a stirring victory for the two-time Russian Olympian, who won the silver medal in the ladies figure skating competition at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. She first competed in the Olympics at the 1998 Nagano Games and finished fifth.
Although she was first reluctant to skate as a child, Slutskaya (her father is Jewish) was training full time with the blessing of her parents by the age of 10. Her mother had formerly been a cross-country skiier for the Soviet Union, and quit before competing in any world championship or at the Olympics, a decision she always regretted. After placing eighth at the 1993 World Junior Championships, Slutskaya became the first Russian or Soviet women to win the European Championship. Irina then won the bronze medal at the 1996 World Championships.
The following year, Slutskaya again captured the bronze medal at the World Championships and then took the silver in 1998. In 1999, however, she failed to win one of the three spots on the Russian National team. Slutskaya was ready to quit skating several times, but remained with her lifelong coach, Zhanna Gromova, and worked through her difficulties. She got married, realized her love for skating had not disappeared, and won the silver medal at the World Championships in 2000 and 2001, finishing second to American Michelle Kwan both years.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. Feb. 9, 1979
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
Jewish Sports Review, January/February 2002 issue (Volume 3, Number 5, Issue 29)