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Dorothy Hamill, the skater of all substances

Updated on December 12, 2014

Dorothy Hamill: the most proficient power skater ever

For renowned power skaters, Sonja Henie, Katarina Witt, Midori Ito, Tanya Harding etc make the list.

The Great Sonja Henie was the first power skater in the budding year of the sport, and the most successful skater, perhaps, of all time.

Katarina Witt was a skater who represented the 1980s in her shining star personality. Midori Ito was an athletic champion who first landed triple axel.

One of the common traits shared among power skaters was that they were superb competitive, and that's obvious for a few reasons.

In figure skating, power and speed are the most critical factors to appreciate given that other elements are all in place, because in competition, they are critical, not only in claiming the victory but in elevating quality of skating.

Therefore, power skaters are by default comparatively ahead of others.

Of course, there are a few catches. Power skaters tend to be less sophisticated and less flexible than lyrical and artistic skaters, and are in high risk of falling.

What's unique about Dorothy Hamill is that she was an all-in-one skater. Based on given data available, no skater ever matched Dorothy Hamill in terms of skating asset.

That's quite obvious if you look at Hamill's background: Hamill was a direct beneficiary from Peggy Fleming and Janet Lynn. Like Janet Lynn and Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill was also categorically a lyrical and artistic skater.

But Hamill's power skating bolstered by solid compulsory discipline and the legacy of the two giants, Fleming and Lynn, was what made her the one and only.

Dorothy Hamill in 1976

Double axel and ladies figure skating

There are many things you can judge skaters by, but one of the easiest factors for non-expert to fathom the level of skater is speed and power.

But if that still poises a hurdle, then take a look at double axel and compare its quality of each skater. Double axel has been practicing about for 60 years.

In the 1970s double axel had a weight equivalent of triple axel today, but by definition, double axel is double axel, a common denominator for different times that provides valuable insight to technical evolution of the sport.

Considering technical knowhow and scientific and technological advance in time, you may expect much better quality in double axel by skaters today than skaters in old times.

Surprisingly, no skater shows any quality close to those legends' in the 1970s - of course that's why they are legends. Although ladies figure skating has already embraced triple axel and is officially in the triple era, it has never technically advanced.

Dorothy Hamill in 1975

Double axel in the era of triple jump

Then you may scratch your head. What about Linda Fratianne's triple? What about Midori Ito's triple axel? What about Katarina's triple toes?

Accurately speaking, we cannot call it advanced or upgraded unless we see their jumping technique beat in quality those of old times - at least their double axel quality matched those of the old time.

Skaters after Hamill threw triples, even today, but we do not necessarily say that double axel technique has evolved ever since or triple technique has been completed.

It is still in progress. Only tentatively we can say, based on Yuna Kim, standards of triple technique has been established. Despite the fact that all skaters landed triples in competition there wasn't technical advancement if you look at the quality of double axel.

Even when Midori Ito's monumental achievement on triple axel stunned the world, that wasn't an technical advancement; Ito's technique was superb at the time, but never reached the kind of mastery shown of the old time. Ito's contribution was introduction of triple axel.

It was with Yuna Kim that we can now say the technique of double axel has been completed, but that doesn't mean skaters today mastered double axel.

On the contrary even Kim's double axel could barely match the old legend's quality. As you may already know, most skaters' double axel today cannot even get close to the level of legends of the old time. Some quality of the old may never repeat, perhaps.

Lynn's double axel remains unattainable like her ethereal skating and Hamill's still shines in jaw-dropping magnificence. What saved our day from humiliation is perhaps Yuna Kim's immaculate double axel. Kim's was in such a refined form, one of her definitive legacies.

Dorothy Hamill in 1976

A skater who astonished the Great Peggy Fleming

Once Fleming marveled at Hamill's speed and power.

If you look at the speed Hamill generated as she prepared for a delay axel at the start of program, you will understand what it should look like at that time.

Hamill's skating was characterized by virtually all qualities required in ladies figure skating, such as line, extension, balance, stability, aesthetic sensitivity, physiological integration, athleticism, and musical interpretation, in addition to historic compulsories.

To simply put it, in the history of ladies figure skating, we haven't seen any skater who may challenge Dorothy Hamill in skating assets. Hamill was an ideally packaged skater with all conceivable qualities in the ladies figure skating.

What do you think the most outstanding feature of Janet Lynn's double axel?

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What do you think the most outstanding feature of Dorothy Hamill's double axel?

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What do you think the most outstanding feature of Yuna Kim's double axel?

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Dorothy Hamill in 1974

Dorothy Hamill: the very best all-round skater

Though Hamill's career was very short, her all round - physical, physiological, athletic, aesthetic, and even interpretative - skating talent and competitive strength were unmatched to this day.

What do you think Hamill's greatest feature in her skating?

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      Ken 3 years ago

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