Monday, October 1, 2012

Barbara Ann Scott (1928-2012)

Before I write about this past week’s figure skating newsmakers, I must dedicate a single post to Canada’s Sweetheart, Barbara Ann Scott.

For most of us, she’s the pretty blonde from an era way before us who wore that lacy knit cap thingy when she skated... and was often photographed in that iconic stag leap of hers. But for a nation—a whole continent, really—she was much more: first lady to win Olympic gold after WWII... first (and still only) lady to win that title representing Canada... a successor to Sonja Henie in numerous ways, including starring in Henie’s Hollywood Ice Revue... a contemporary to her North American counterpart, a fellow named Dick Button... a successful businesswoman outside the figure skating world who also maintained a healthy role within the sport.

But perhaps equally important to all that is the simple fact that she showed figure skating to be more than a European specialty. What Midori Ito did to skyrocket interest in the Far East, Scott arguably did for the “far” West (far when compared to Norway, at least). Yes, Henie was the ultimate ambassador when she not only brought skating to Hollywood, but to U.S. cities coast to coast. But Scott became a North American inspiration to Carol Heiss Jenkins... who became an inspiration to Janet Lynn... who, among other things, helped introduce skating to Japan when she won Olympic bronze over there in 1972. The wheel goes round and round, and Scott was one of the first to really put it in motion when it came to figure skating champions.

A couple of clips you might want to check out, especially if you’re unfamiliar with her work... this one of her skating...

And you might get a kick out of this too: her poodle-toting stint as the “secret guest” on a 1955 episode of the TV game show What’s My Line...

R.I.P, Barbara Ann. You’re missed already.

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