Ice skating fans usually are very aware of who the national, international, and Olympic figure skaters are, but there many other people who have done wonderful things for the sport of figure skating and left their mark. Five of those people are listed below.
Janet Champion was “discovered” by Ice Follies when she was a very little girl. Her skating life was a bit like Shirley Temple’s life since for several years she traveled around the world and performed night after night. Entire production numbers were built around little Janet who could do at least ten handsprings in a row on the ice. When Champion grew up and retired from professional ice show skating, she went on to become a very successful and sought after figure skating coach.
Morry Stillwell served as the President of U.S. Figure Skating, and during his time as US Figure Skating’s president, a contract was signed with ABC that gave figure skating much publicity on television. $12 million dollars was given to U.S. Figure Skating annually through 2007. That contribution is Morry Stillwell’s most important contribution to the sport. In addition, he worked with the International Skating Union to organize the Grand Prix of Figure Skating series. Stillwell was a roller skater before he switched to ice skating, and he went on to become a US Figure Skating national judge and referee and continues to serve as a US Figure Skating official.
Sonia Bianchetti Garbato was a top figure skating official with the International Skating Union (ISU) frin 1963 through 1992. She was the person that helped eliminate compulsory figures from international figure skating competitions and she also was the person responsible for adding the short program to ice skating competitions. She also gave judging seminars all over the world, and fought hard to stop unfair judging. Her book, Cracked Ice, tells much about international figure skating politics and she continues to write articles about the sport.
Jim Sladky and Judy Schwomeyer, an American ice dance team, demonstrated ice dancing at the Grenoble, France Winter Olympics in 1968. That demonstration resulted in ice dancing becoming an Olympic event. Slady and Schwomeyer are the inventors of the Yankee Polka pattern ice dance and they reigned as the US ice dance champions from 1968 through 1972.
Mabel Fairbanks was an African American figure skater and ice skating coach whose strength and determination paved the way for African Americans and other figure skaters from minority backgrounds to be part of the sport. She is most known for being the person who paired up US figure skating legends Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner who went on to win the world figure skating championships in pair skating.
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