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Thread: Dorothy Hamill, "America's Sweetheart"

  1. #1
    SkateFan4Life
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    Dorothy Hamill, "America's Sweetheart"


    I'm sure many of us have fond memories of 19-year-old Dorothy Hamill of Riverside, Connecticut, adorned in an lovely American Beauty Rose-colored costume, skating her heart out and winning the Olympic gold medal in Innsbruck, 1976. After finishing second in the previous two Worlds, Dorothy was the class of the field, finishing second in the school figures, and winning both the short and long programs. Every judge gave her first-place votes.

    Dorothy's wedgecut hairdo became the rage, and countless women in America rushed to their hairdresser to cut their hair in "Dorothy's do".

    The first time I saw Dorothy was at the televised broadcast of the 1972 Worlds, held in Calgary. Dorothy was a cute
    15-year-old who had finished fourth at the US Nationals and had just missed qualifying for th Olympic team. She skated a very respectable Worlds and finished in seventh place. Dick Button conducted a charming interview with Dorothy, who was quite shy at being interviewed on television.

    One of the most memorable images of Dorothy was her upset reaction at the 1974 Worlds, in which the West German audience erupted in catcalls and boos when the W. German skater who preceded her had received - what they believed to be - low scores. Dorothy was circling the ice, waiting for her turn, and the hullaballo brought her to tears, for she thought the audience was booing her. She was given the opportunity to take a rest period, but she marched back onto the ice and skated a strong, technical program to win the long program and win the silver medal. You go, girl! :D

    I've seen Dorothy skate several times during her pro career, the first time being three years after she won the Olympic title. She sparkled in Ice Capades, and her smile reached to the top row of the arena.

    I've also seen and enjoyed all of Dorothy's television specials.

    I was surprised, however, that Dorothy did not participate in the "Skates of Gold" programs that were held in the early 1990s. These were wonderful "reunions" of all Olympic gold medalists, and many of the women were there - Barbara Ann Scott, Tenley Albright, Carol Heiss, Peggy Fleming, Annet Poetszch, Katarina Witt, and Kristi Yamaguchi. Absent were Dorothy, Sjouke Dykstra, and Trixi Schuba. Perhaps Dorothy was on the road with her skating performances at that time - whatever the reason, she was dearly missed.

    Dorothy enjoyed a 16-year reign as the "last American woman to win an Olympic gold medal", from 1976-1992, and in many ways, she is still "America's sweetheart".

    Long may she skate!!




  2. #2
    mathman444
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    Re: Dorothy Hamill, "America's Sweetheart"


    That was a charmingly written account, SkateFan. Thanks for the memories. Dorothy still holds audiences in the palm of her hand whenever she skates.

    Mathman

  3. #3
    SkateFan4Life
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    Dorothy Hamill, "America's Sweetheart"

    Just a note -- Dorothy won her Olympic gold medal on February 14, 1976. The New York Times published a terrific photo of Dorothy in her final scratch spin, with her hair twirling all around, with the caption, "For Dorothy Hamill of Riverside, Connecticut, it was a golden Valentine's Day". Perhaps that's how the label
    "America's Sweetheart" came into being - Dorothy won the gold medal on Valentine's Day!

  4. #4
    Arm Chair Skate Fan show 42's Avatar
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    ........and with that final scratch spin, I went out and had my hair cut ala "Hamill. I wore my hair that way for four years. She truly inspired me..........42

  5. #5
    SkateFan4Life
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    And Dorothy still looks fresh and youthful when she takes to the ice. She still glides with the magical flow and artistry that is hers alone.


  6. #6
    In love with the axel!
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    She has always been my favorite skater - I was 12 (and skating in my first USFSA comp) when she won the Olympics and we all wanted to skate just like her.

    The first time I did a flying camel-sit for my coach (about a year ago, as an adult) he asked -- "was that a Hamill Camel"? I said yes - and I don't think I know any other way to do that spin. Thanks Dorothy!

  7. #7
    Learning to Fly
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    Agreed, a wonderful account. Although she won her gold medal before I was born, I remember being very young, just discovering skating and pretending to jump and spin in my living room, hearing the name "Dorothy Hamill" and wondering just what it was that made her so famous. Now I've found out! I need to watch some tapes of her old performances.

  8. #8
    SkateFan4Life
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    Dorothy started skating at the age of eight - a neighbor had given her a pair of skates for Christmas, and she started skating outdoors at a local pond. At first, all she wanted to do was to learn to skate backwards, but her natural ability soon became evident. Dorothy is quoted as saying (to paraphrase), "One of the best things about skating outdoors was the freedom of movement, jumping in the crisp, cold air, and feeling the wind on your face." Simply put, Dorothy loved to skate, and it showed!!

  9. #9
    *Passionate for Figure Skating* Ice Princess's Avatar
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    Dorothy Hamill, "America's Sweetheart"

    Dorothy Hamill was my main inspiration for ice skating! I also got her wedge haircut when I was about 7 years old! I can't believe how that caught on! I didn't even know it was popular-I just brought pictures to the salon & said that's what I want! Now, I just bought an older Dorothy Hamill barbie doll!

  10. #10
    SkateFan4Life
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    I saw Dorothy Hamill in Ice Capades a year or so after she had won the Olympics, and she was the star of the show, without question. She absolutely sparkled out there, with a brilliant smile, energetic presentation, and excellent technique. Her jumps were strong, her spins were crisp, well-centered, and very, very, fast. I'm sure many of the people who attended Ice Capades during those years - late 1970s through early 1980s did so just to watch Dorothy skate.

    At one Ice Capades performance I attended - around 1982 I think - an announcement was made immediately prior to the start of the show that Dorothy Hamill would not be performing due to illness. The audience emitted a long, loud, "Oh, no!", and a few people actually left the arena shortly thereafter. The show went on, of course, but it wasn't the same. :(

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