(1928 - )
Known as "Canada's Sweetheart," Barbara Ann Scott is still the only Canadian to ever win Olympic gold at the senior women's figure skating level. Love of the sport, dedication, sheer determination and plain hard work helped her achieve this impressive goal. Her grace, sportsmanship, technical brilliance and modesty, on and off the ice, are remembered more than 50 years later.
She was born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1928 to her proud parents, army Colonel Clyde Rutherford Scott and Mary Purves. Her parents wereinstrumental in instilling many of the qualities that would help her to succeed in the figure skating world - a strong work ethic, belief in fair play, attention to detail and motivation to work hard. She was seven years old when she started skating at Ottawa's Minto Club where she spent many, many long hours perfecting her skills. At the age of ten, Barbara Ann was the youngest Canadian to pass the gold figures test. Another memorable event in her young life also happened about this time. While visiting Ottawa, her skating hero Sonja Henie, invited her to tea and gave her a souvenir - an autographed picture in a gold frame.
Barbara Ann won many titles in her short skating career: Junior Figure Skating Champion of Canada (1940); Canadian Senior Women's Champion (1944-1948); North-American championships (1945-1948); two European championships (1947-1948); two World championships (1947-1948) and an Olympic gold medal at the 5th Winter Olympic Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland on February 6, 1948. In February 1947, when Barbara Ann won her first European championship title in Stockholm, Sweden, she became the first North American to win that title since its inception in 1896.
Many of these titles were won under adverse conditions. At the 1948 European competition in Prague, she had just started her free-skating program when the music suddenly stopped. She calmly waited on the ice until the problem was resolved, then skated a spectacular program. At the 1948 Olympics (wearing number 13) while skating a difficult loop-change-loop figure, a Swiss Air Force plane loudly flew by the rink casting a shadow on it. Her concentration was so intense, she did not even hear it. The next day, her Olympic free-skating program was skated on difficult ice conditions. These examples are a testament to her strong, undaunted spirit.
Among many other honours, Barbara Ann was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's top athlete of the year in 1945, 1947 and 1948. She was inducted into Canada's Olympic Hall of Fame in 1948; Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1955 and the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1991. She became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1991 and in 1998 was named to Canada's new Walk of Fame. Her capable coaches, Otto Gold and Sheldon Galbraith, helped her with her many accomplishments.
In June 1948, she gave up her amateur status to start a professional career. She skated at the Roxy Theatre in New York, and during the 1949-1950 season she toured Canada. In the summers of 1950 and 1951 she starred in Rose Marie on Ice in London, England. She also headlined in the Hollywood Ice Revue for four years. But the gypsy life and gruelling schedule took its toll, so at the age of 25, Barbara Ann decided to give up skating as a career.
On September 17, 1955, Barbara Ann married Thomas Van Dyke King, whom she had met when he was a publicity agent for the Hollywood Ice Revue. Moving to Chicago, Illinois, she continued to keep busy. Over the years she opened a beauty salon, appeared in television commercials, authored two books, trained and showed horses, for which she won many equestrian medals, and still plays golf. She was also a director of a summer theatre, and is involved in many clubs and charitable organizations. Still active in the figure skating world, she serves as a judge at professional competitions.
During her skating career, Barbara Ann Scott made a nation proud, but more importantly, she is an inspiration to many young people who have that same dream - of someday achieving Olympic gold.
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