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Sports Then and Now



35 Years Ago: Dorothy Hamill Skates Her Way Into America’s Heart 3

Posted on February 13, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Dorothy Hamill captured the heart of America at the 1976 Winter Olympics.

The grace and art of ladies figure skating has always been captivating to Americans. From the days of Sonja Henie, to Carol Heiss, Peggy Fleming, Katarina Witt and more recently to Tara Lipinski, Sarah Hughes and Yuna Kim, success on the Olympic stage has meant international fame and recognition for the greatest women on ice.

Perhaps no skater has quite captured the hearts and captivated the interest of both die-hard and casual fans more than a red-cheeked young lady who skated her way into the hearts of many Americans 35 years ago.

It seems difficult to believe that it was indeed 35 years ago, February 13, 1976, when Dorothy Hamill gave the performance of a lifetime to capture the Olympic Gold Medal in Innsbruck.

Not only did Hamil capture the gold medal, but her illuminating smile, beauty and hairstyle led her to be dubbed “America’s Sweetheart.”

Her trademark camel spin that turned into a sit spin became known as the “Hamill camel.” Her bobbed hairstyle created an American fad as teenage girls across the U.S. soon were sporting a similar look.

After winning the Olympic Gold, Hamill won the World Championships and then retired from competition. She spent eight years as a headliner with the Ice Capades and in the ensuing years has been involved in numerous skating ventures.

She also has been twice married and divorced and gone through bankruptcy and fought breast cancer.

Yet to anyone who saw her compete in Innsbruck, she will always be “America’s Sweetheart.”

Below is the freestyle program that won her the gold medal in 1976.

Lysacek Puts U.S. Back On Top Of Figure Skating World 3

Posted on February 20, 2010 by Dean Hybl

The Today Show Gallery of Olympians

Evan Lysacek became the first American man to win gold in figure skating since 1988.

The scintillating Olympic performance by Evan Lysacek not only brought the American a gold medal, but also helped lift the United States back to prominence in an event it once dominated.

From the time Dick Button claimed the first medal by an American with the first of his consecutive gold medal performances in 1948 through the gold medal winning skate of Brian Boitano in 1988, the United States was regularly contending for and winning Olympic medals in men’s figure skating.

Overall, the U.S. won six gold medals and 12 total medals during that 40 year stretch. In 1956, the U.S. became the first country since Sweden during the first Olympic figure skating championship in 1908 to sweep the victory stand.

Other U.S. stars including David Jenkins (1956 bronze and 1960 gold) and Scott Hamilton (1984 gold) continued the American prominence in the sport.

However, following Boitano’s victory in Calgary and a silver medal by Paul Wylie at the 1992 games in Albertville, the U.S. suddenly fell from prominence in the sport while Russia and Canada seized control. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • George Blanda: NFL’s Great Old Man
      December 15, 2019 | 3:07 pm
      George Blanda

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month had two separate careers in pro football that combined to make him one of the legendary players of his era (or eras).

      George Blanda, who played a record 26 years in professional football and didn’t retire from the NFL until the age of 48, is best remembered for his nine-year stint as the crusty old kicker and miracle maker for the Oakland Raiders of the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, his career transcended generations and connected legends.

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