Dorothy Hamill

February 13, 2018

hamil newsweekThe year was 1976 and Olympic fever was in full force that February. There was one person, particularly, everyone was talking about. From her cute, bobbed haircut to her signature skating move, girls everywhere wanted to look like her and boys wanted to date her.

On February 13, the skater won the women’s Olympic gold medal in figure skating. Her name was Dorothy Hamill and she was 19 years old.

From the infallible Wikipedia:

“At the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, Hamill came in second in the figures and then won the short and long programs, taking the gold medal. She was the last single skater to win the Olympics without a triple jump. Hamill also won the 1976 World Championships and then turned professional.

“Hamill is credited with developing a new skating move — a camel spin that turns into a sit spin – which became known as the “Hamill camel.” The bobbed hairstyle that she wore during her Olympic performance was created by stylist Yusuke Sugaand started a fad, known as the “short and sassy” look. Her glasses with oversized frames also started a trend in the 1970s. The media dubbed her ‘America’s sweetheart.’”

Only seven American women have ever won gold in Women’s Olympic Figure skating: Tenley Albright (1956), Carol Heiss (1960), Peggy Fleming (1968), Dorothy Hamill (1976), Kristi Yamaguchi (1992), Tara Lipinski (1998) and Sarah Hughes (2002).

peggy-fleming-olympicsAnother Olympic fact, Peggy Fleming was the only US athlete to win a gold medal in the 1968 Olympics. The skating program had been decimated seven years earlier when a fatal plane crash on February 15, 1961, claimed the lives of the entire US skating team and coaches who were  en-route to Belgium for an international competition. Also from the infallible Wikipedia:

“All 18 athletes of the 1961 U.S. figure skating team and 16 family members, coaches, and officials were among the fatalities. The dead included 9-time U.S. ladies’ champion, turned coach, Maribel Vinson-Owen and her two daughters, reigning U.S. ladies’ champion Laurence Owen (age 16) and reigning U.S. pairs champion Maribel Owen (age 20).  Maribel Owens’s pairs champion partner Dudley Richards and reigning U.S. men’s champion Bradley Lord also died, along with U.S. ice dancing champions Diane Sherbloom and Larry Pierce. The team also lost U.S. men’s silver medalist Gregory Kelley, U.S. ladies’ silver medalist Stephanie Westerfeld, and U.S. ladies’ bronze medalist Rhode Lee Michelson.  Laurence Owen was the cover story for the February 13 issue of Sports Illustrated.”hamill history sabena plane

Although I was never an Olympian, I first tried ice skating about age 8 when our neighbor, Royce, sprayed water on his family’s driveway to create an ice rink. Royce, who was several year’s older, had outgrown a pair of skates which I got to borrow. I was very excited about this and, after the skating session, rushed home to ask my mother if we could buy the skates.

My mother, ever practical, told me ‘no.’ I think it had a lot to do with the fact that, in reality, there were few days in any winter – even in Yakima – where the temperatures were cold enough to create an ice rink; also, I did have a tendency to flit from one interest to another and, no doubt, the obsession with ice skating would soon fade. This is why Dorothy Hamill, and not me, won the 1976 Olympic Gold medal. That and the fact that I’m one of the most un-athletic people I know!

As always a couple of links:

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