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Great Skaters: Barbara Ann Scott

Updated on January 2, 2017

Great Skaters: Barbara Ann Scott, Ice princess

Since the day of Sonja Henie, it took ladies figure skating nearly fifty years to reach its golden era led by Peggy Fleming. After Sonja Henie, Barbara Ann Scott became the headline of ladies figure skating with her doll-like appearance. Scott was an Olympic champion in 1948, a two-time World champion, and a four-time Canadian national champion. Scott was good at both compulsories and free skating, and even received accolades from Ulrich Salchow for the easiness in her spirited skating style.


Barbara Ann Scott with Dick Button in 1948

Barbara Ann Scott in the 1948 Winter Olympics

Barbara Ann Scott and Hans Gerschwiler practice together
Barbara Ann Scott and Hans Gerschwiler practice together | Source

Scott: A Pioneer Skater of Music

Scott was the first skater who envisioned musical interpretation in figure skating, pioneering choreographed programs. Sonja Henie is considered to be the most celebrated female figure skater setting a model for figure skating, as Frank Carroll recalled, especially as a glamorous performing art show. Through Henie's unparalleled talent as a skater and celebrity power, ladies figure skating had transformed into a centerpiece of winter sport. Scott, on the other hand, added something beyond Henie's legacy to the sport - an ice princess image. In Scott's figure skating people began to catch a glimpse of physiological sport. As the first North American gold medalist, Scott was a star in her right and stood out in her innovative skills and dedication to the sport. Like Dick Button, the first skater who did double axel, Scott also did double axel; only her jump technique wasn't perfect to be credited for according to her famous coach Sheldon Galbraith. Scott was especially known for her innovative spin rather than jump. She was never a great jumper. But to be fair, in her day there wasn't many great jumpers, except Dick Button.

The Early Figure Skating

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see the early figure skating in comparison with today's figure skating?

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Extraordinaire : Toller Cranston

Toller Cranston
Toller Cranston | Source

Men's Skating: the Early Pioneers

Like ladies figure skaters, there were great male figure skaters in the past. The list includes Ulrich Salchow, Axel Paulsen, Dick Button, Jenkins bothers, etc.

Besides them, there were two names to remember when it comes to men's figure skating.

One was Toller Cranston, the other was John Curry.

They were developers of men's figure skating, and as much contributed to the sport as those big shots who shifted the course of men's figure skating.

Cranston, born in 1949, was a six time Canadian national champion in 1971 through 1976, and a bronze medalist both in the 1974 Worlds and 1976 Olympics. Curry, born in 1949 was a British gold medalist in both 1976 Olympics and Worlds.

Especially Curry's 1976 Olympic performances dazzled the audience and his peers alike, and many began to adopt his ballet-incorporated style. Among them was Paul Wylie who won silver in the 1992 Olympics.

If Cranston, famous for his free leg stretch and his inventive moves on ice, was a skater who cased his skating with his own athletic brilliance, Curry was, according to Cranston, a skater of uncontested refinement and sophistication.

It is no coincidence that Curry and Cranston were categorically artistic skaters in the 1970s when the figure skating world celebrated the one and only skater of ladies figure skating, Janet Lynn, and Lynn's “The Blue Danube” was choreographed by none other than John Curry, which Cranston commented as “definitve performance of females” that he had ever seen.


John Curry in 1976

Toller Cranston in 1976

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    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 3 years ago

      Fascinating hub with some of my favorite skaters! I really enjoyed it!