Pj's Top 10: Canadian champions, 1930-80 | Figure Skating | CBC Sports

Figure SkatingPj's Top 10: Canadian champions, 1930-80

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 | 01:06 PM

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"Canada's Sweetheart," Barbara Ann Scott, is still the only Canadian figure skater to win a ladies' singles gold medal at the Olympics. (Frank Royal/National Archives of Canada/Canadian Press)

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With the 99th Canadian Figure Skating Championships unfolding next week in Mississauga, Ont., it's time to take a look at Canadian skaters whose national titles spurred them on to Olympic and world greatness.
Canada has a long and distinguished history in figure skating. And as much as Canada's skaters have been able to bring home the hardware, none of it could have happened without first conquering the competition at home.

With the 99th Canadian Figure Skating Championships unfolding next week in Mississauga, Ont., it's time to take a look at Canadian skaters (in chronological order) whose national titles spurred them on to Olympic and world greatness between the years 1930 and 1980.

Look for Pj's top 10 from 1980 to the present, coming up soon.

Click on each skater's name to watch a YouTube clip of them in action.

Montgomery Wilson

Went on to: Men's bronze medallist at 1932 Lake Placid Olympics.

Wilson is a nine-time Canadian champion who went on to win an Olympic bronze medal in 1932 as well as a silver medal at worlds that same year.

Barbara Ann Scott

Went on to: Ladies' gold medallist at 1948 St. Moritz Olympics.

A four-time national champion, Scott is still the only Canadian figure skater to win a ladies' singles gold medal at the Olympics. She was also a two-time world, European and North American champion. Known as Canada's Sweetheart, many people credit Barbara Ann with putting figure skating on the map.

Suzanne Morrow & Wallace Distelmeyer

Went on to:
Pairs' bronze medallists at 1948 St. Moritz Olympics.

Not only did the team of Morrow and Distelmeyer win the Canadian pairs' title in 1948, they were the national ice dance champions as well. Distelmeyer also won the men's title in 1948 while Morrow would go on to win the ladies' title three times starting in 1949. Their remarkable dedication led to Olympic and world pairs' bronze medals in 1948.

Both Suzy and Wally, as they were known to their friends, would stay in the sport for the rest of their lives: Suzy as an international judge (she took the officials' oath at the 1988 Calgary Olympics) and Wally as an elite coach.

Frances Dafoe & Norris Bowden

Went on to: Pairs' silver medallists at 1956 Cortina D'Ampezzo Olympics.

This is another of those situations where pairs' teammates were also national champions in other disciplines: Bowden was the men's champion in 1947, and Dafoe and Bowden were ice dance champions in 1952. Also in 1952, Dafoe and Bowden won the first of their four consecutive national pairs' titles.

The pairs' team of Dafoe and Bowden had won the world title for the second consecutive time in 1955. There are some who say that the silver they won at the 1956 Olympics was a controversial decision and that they should have won gold.

The video I found on YouTube was a home movie taken at the Olympics that simply confirms just how good this team was.

Barbara Wagner & Bob Paul

Went on to: Pairs' gold medallists at 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics.

The five-time Canadian champions won their last of four consecutive world titles in 1960. The icing on the cake for this team was the Olympic gold medal they won in Squaw Valley. This was the first Olympic pairs' gold for Canada.

In researching video, I chose this piece because it was a newsreel montage and featured not only Wagner and Paul but also Canadian teammates Maria and Otto Jelinek, who finished in fourth at the 1960 Olympics.    

Donald Jackson

Went on to: Men's bronze medallist at 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics

Jackson won his first of four consecutive national titles in 1959. The 1960 Olympics garnered him a bronze medal. Jackson topped off an impressive amateur career with a win at the world championships in 1962, where he became the first man to successfully execute a triple Lutz in competition.

Interestingly, as much as he might have wanted to continue competing, there wasn't enough money. This video shows Jackson as a performer in the Ice Follies circa 1963.

Debbi Wilkes & Guy Revell

Went on to:
Pairs' bronze (later silver) medallists at 1964 Innsbruck Olympics

What set these two-time Canadian champions apart was their dazzling athleticism. They originally won the bronze at the 1964 Olympics, only to be moved up to silver after it was discovered that the original silver medallists had broken the rules and were disqualified. Marika Kilius and Hans-Jurgen Baumler of Germany had apparently received some financial compensation, which at the time was against the rules, and were stripped of their medals.

Try as I might, I was unable to locate any video on YouTube of Wilkes and Revell. As a consolation, I did locate footage of the 1964 Olympic champions from the USSR, Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov.

Petra Burka

Went on to: Ladies' bronze medallist at 1964 Innsbruck Olympics

1964 was a great year for Petra Burka: she won the first of her three consecutive national titles, won an Olympic bronze medal, as well as the first of two world bronze medals. At the pinnacle of her amateur career, she won the world title in 1965.

As with many other skaters of her generation, competing was very expensive, and with no way to continue paying for it, Petra turned professional.

This video is of a solo she performed with Holiday on Ice at Madison Square Garden in 1967.

Karen Magnussen


Went on to: Ladies' silver medallist at 1972 Sapporo Olympics

Magnussen's era was marked by a fierce rivalry between she and American and Olympic bronze medallist Janet Lynn. Both skaters were equally worthy champions. Magnussen's amateur accomplishments included five national titles, an Olympic silver medal in 1972 and a world title in 1973.

In case you aren't familiar with her, Magnussen is the blond skater in the red dress with white detail in this video of her Olympic free skate.

Toller Cranston

Went on to: Men's bronze medallist at 1976 Innsbruck Olympics

There are very few skaters who can be said to have changed the sport in some way. Toller Cranston is one of them. Cranston was one of a couple of men who helped to evolve men's skating artistically. His amateur career accomplishments included six national titles, an Olympic bronze medal in 1976 and a world bronze medal in 1974.

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