The intensity of Henie's commitment to skating was further intensified after competing in the first winter Olympics, in Chamonix, France, in 1924. After placing last in a field of eight, she increased her practice time to some seven hours a day. Because Norway did not yet have indoor ice rinks, she traveled around Europe to train throughout the year and benefit from the best instructors. Her new goal was the 1927 world figure skating championship. Her performance, skating "at home" in Norway's Frogner Stadium, earned her the first of ten consecutive world figure skating titles (and the distinction of being the youngest world champion until Tara Lipinski edged her out in 1997 by a margin of thirty-two days). The pretty, blond skater stood out among the competitors in a white silk and ermine skating dress that had a short skirt. Long, black skirts were the norm, being both modest and warm. But the fourteen-year-old Henie was too small to wear such heavy garb; it tended to act like a sail and tangle in her legs. Selma had designed her daughter's above-the-knee skirt with heavy fur trim to give it fullness. Beyond the garment's visual impact, it gave her the freedom to do jumps and other movements that had only been done by men. When Henie began her program, her ballet training was evident in the flourishes she made with her head and legs. She managed to tie together the elements in her routine in way that had not been done before. She also lit the entire performance with a dazzling, dimpled smile. The hallmarks of Henie's future successes were in place.
Later in 1927 Henie saw the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova dance in London. The experience inspired her to introduce choreographic design in her free skating program, an innovation that helped her win an Olympic gold medal in 1928 at St. Moritz, Switzerland. Her program also included double axels, spins, twirls, and jumps. Her innovations and unparalleled determination would fuel another ten years of amateur successes, including a still unmatched Olympic record. Henie went on to win a total of three Olympic figure skating championships: she also won gold medals at Lake Placid, New York in 1932 and at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria in 1936. The skater turned professional later that same year, after having won her tenth world championship.