In 1989, Midori Ito became the first figure skater outside of Europe and North America to become World Champion. Her skating was characterized by powerful jumps, and in 1988 she became the first woman to land a triple Axel in competition. First appearing in the Japanese Championships at age ten, Ito won the national title nine times (1985-1992 and 1996). After her world title, she finished runner-up in 1990, but failed to make the podium at her other appearances. She was one of the favourites at the 1992 Olympics, where she won a silver, despite a sub-par perfomance in the short programme. Ito turned professional after the Olympics, winning the pro world title in 1993. She briefly returned to the amateur ranks in the 1995/1996 season, to place 7th at the World Championships. In 1998, as Japan’s first big Winter star, she was chosen to light the Olympic Flame in the opening ceremony of the Nagano Games.