Past Olympic Athletes >> Ulrich Salchow

Ulrich Salchow

Ulrich Salchow

Date of birth






Olympic Games (1 medal -1 gold)

  • Men: 1st (1908)

World Championships (12 medals - 10 gold, 2 silver)

  • Men: 1st (1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911), 2nd (1899, 1900)

European Championships (10 medals - 9 gold, 1 bronze)

  • Men: 1st (1898, 1899, 1900, 1904, 1906, 1907, 1909, 1910, 1913), 3rd (1901)

Pioneer and inventor

The great Swedish figure skater Ulrich Salchow, who reigned supreme at the beginning of the last century, is perhaps better known for having given his name to a spectacular jump that has become a permanent and important feature of the sport.

Curiously, the first winter sports champion in Olympic history won his figure skating gold medal at the 1908 Summer Games in London, when the organisers decided to include the figure skating discipline on the official list.

Salchow, an immensely strong man who enjoyed clear technical superiority over his rivals, was a specialist of the now defunct compulsories, which accounted for a large percentage of the total marks.

This genuine pioneer won ten world championships and nine European titles...only the legendary Sonja Henie of Norway has equalled his world championship record.

Fourth at 42

Unable to defend his Olympic crown at the 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm after the organisers decided not to include figure skating in the programme, Salchow pinned his hopes on the Games in Antwerp in 1920.

Well behind after the compulsories, Salchow's swan-song came to an unhappy end when he fell, ironically while attempting his own jump, the salchow.

Skating on despite being injured, the Swede finished an honourable fourth, not bad for a 42-year-old veteran.

Following his retirement from competition Salchow spent a number of years as the president of the International Figure Skating Federation.

Only three other skaters have had a jump named after them: Norway's Axel Paulsen (for the axel), Austria's Alois Lutz (for the lutz) and German skater Werner Rittberger (who invented a jump known as the loop in Anglophone countries).

For the record, a "salchow" is a jump in which the skater takes off from the back inside edge of one foot and lands on the back outside edge of the opposite foot.

Salchow died in 1949 aged 71.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.