Her exquisite figure skating sparked admiration throughout the country.
Hockey may be king in Canada, but at the 1948 St. Moritz Olympics, the nation crowned its queen, of figure skating at least. In fact, when 19 year-old Barbara Ann Scott won Canada’s first ever gold medal in singles figure skating, her performance rose above the gold medal performance by the Ottawa RCAF Flyers hockey team – after her victory, two forwards from the hockey team hoisted Canada’s Sweetheart on their shoulders and the triumphal photo was flashed around the globe.
In the wake of World War II, the nation needed a heroine, and Scott, with her China-blue eyes, on-ice grace and lightning-fast spins made people forget the ravages of war. On her return to Canada, Prime Minister Mackenzie King congratulated Canada’s new champion, explaining how she had given the country the courage to persevere through the era’s post-war gloom.
Scott began skating at age 7, and at 10, she became the youngest person to ever pass the gold figures test. When training, Scott was up every morning at 7:00 to practice eight hours and skate 17.7 kilometres just to complete her figures. She studied under a tutor in the late afternoon and was in bed by 8:30 each evening. Such discipline paid off, helping Scott to win the Canadian Junior Championship at age 11, and by 15 she was Canada’s senior champion.
By 1947, she was on the world’s stage. Four dozen Ottawa friends raised enough money to send Scott, her mother, and coach to the European championships in Davos, Switzerland and the World championships in Stockholm, Sweden. She won both, and then repeated the back-to-back wins again in 1948.
Barbara Ann came home a hero. She felt a love from our country that flows till this day. After four years headlining the Hollywood ice review, Scott, just 25, retired and married Tom King of Chicago. She still judges at professional events.
Barbara Ann Scott of Ottawa, Ontario. A footprint carved perfectly in the spotlight of Canadian sport.