Ito is a nine-time Japanese champion, the 1989 World champion and the 1992 Olympic silver medalist.
She won her first national championship in 1985. She placed fifth at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, Canada.
Later that same year, she became the first woman to land a triple Axel in competition, at a regional competition. She repeated that feat at both the 1988 NHK Trophy and then at the 1989 World Championships. Her win at the 1989 World Championships was the first World title for an Asian skater.
She was one of the favorites heading into the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France. In fourth after the short program, Ito landed a triple Axel in the free skate, becoming the first woman to land that jump in the Olympics. She won the silver and turned professional afterward.
In addition to being the first female skater to land a triple Axel in competition, she was also the first to perform a triple-triple jump combination.
During the opening ceremonies of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Ito had the honor of lighting the Olympic flame.