Moment in History: Barbara Ann Scott

Admittedly, I didn’t know very much about Barbara Ann Scott until I read the sad report of her death just yesterday. I did know that she did run into some issue when she was given a car but what did she do that made her stand out in the history of figure skating?

Well, Barbara was the only Canadian woman to have won *Olympic gold* in ladies figure skating (St. Moritz, Switzerland, 1948). Not only that, but she was also epic enough to have won the North American Championship, the European Championship (that was before they banned people from other continents from competing, apparently her victories played a part in that decision), Canadian Championship and World title. In fact, she took three out of four of those titles in 1948. Here are a few clips of her on youtube. I find it really charming that they used outdoor rinks for the figure skating events at the Olympics back in the day.

 


(On a random note, I find it funny when they say, “Dick Button electrified the crowd with his phenomenal jumps,” which turn out to be double loops – that lack flow at the end marked by a very awkward looking landing position by the way – but I suppose figure skating has changed a lot in the last 70+ years.)

 

Before Tessa & Scott and Joannie Rochette, she was Canada’s sweetheart and often described as friendly person. I think that really shines through in this clip of this old game show here, “What’s My Line.” Barbara Ann was also in other films and TV shows of the time.

She was so well-liked that she was given a car when she won the 1947 World championships. However, this caused her amateur status to be revoked so she had to return the car in order to compete the next year. And boy did she come back with a vengeance. Here is the table of her figure skating results in various competitions on wikipedia:

Barbara was also so well-loved, that the Reliable Toy Company made a doll of her starting in 1948. The doll sold well up until the mid-1950s and had a different costume every year (each trimmed with marabou down). Each doll came with a hangtag shaped like a skate, a letter from the skater herself, a pair of shoes and white skates.

Of course, there’s more to her epicness than that. Here are some of her other accolades:

  • Lou Marsh Trophy for Canada’s Top Athlete of the Year (1945, 1947, 1948)
  • Inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1948)
  • Inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame (1955)
  • Inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame (1966)
  • Inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame (1991)
  • Officer of the Order of Canada (1991)
  • Inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame (1997)
  • Named to Canada’s Walk of Fame (1998)
  • Member of the Order of Ontario (2008)
  • Olympic Torch Bearer (2010)

She was an epic athlete and woman and I admire her for her accomplishments. May her kindness and spirit live on in the figure skating community.

You will be missed, Barbara.

~The Rinkside Cafe

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