With the Olympic Winter Games starting tomorrow in Vancouver, we take a moment to consider one Olympian. Her name is Carol Heiss, and after playing second to the marvelous Tenley Albright in several national championships and in the 1956 Games of Cortina d’Ampezzo, beat Miss Albright that year in the World Championships. She finally won her own Olympic Gold Medal for ladies’ figure skating in the 1960 Squaw Valley Games, and won several World championships in the late 1950s.
One of that special club of American Gold Medal figure skating ladies, she was a product of the era when the sport was still about figures and less about jumps. Miss Heiss was actually the first female skater to land a double axel. But, then as now, what does a champion do with herself when the contest has been won? Today, with the line blurred between amateur and professional, an Olympic athlete may pick up endorsements and compete professionally as well as in the Olympic venue for as long as her ankles, and her youth, holds out.
Back then, once stepping down off the podium, a ladies’ figure skater could either chuck the sport for retirement, or another career (like Tenley Albright, who became a surgeon), or shoot for the traveling ice shows.
Or, throw the dice on a big gamble. Carol Heiss, like Sonja Henie before her, skated briefly for Team Hollywood.
It was only one movie, and it was “Snow White and the Three Stooges” (1961). Not exactly a four-star film, but it still appeals to kids and people who have a soft spot for the Three Stooges and Olympic figure skaters. She did her double axel jump in this movie, but according to this post on About.com, her solo skating footage was edited out of the movie. The producers thought there was “too much skating.”
Have a look at this trailer from the movie.
And now, have a look from Carol Heiss’ 1960 free skate program, and see what it was that made her a champion.