About Dorothy Stuart Hamill
Dorothy Stuart Hamill (born July 26, 1956) is an American figure skater. She is the 1976 Olympic champion in Ladies' Singles and 1976 World Champion.
Hamill was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Chalmers and Carol Hamill. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to the Riverside neighborhood of Greenwich, Connecticut, where Hamill subsequently spent the rest of her childhood. She has a brother and a sister.
Hamill first started skating in early 1965 at the age of 8, taking once-a-week group lessons in a pair of $6.95 skates. She became more serious about the sport the next season, taking regular private lessons and passing her preliminary and first figure test before the seasonal rink closed in March. She was first trained by Otto Gold and Gustave Lussi. Ice time was limited in her area, so she eventually began training at Sky Rink in New York City, staying overnight in the city with friends when possible. In the summers she trained in Lake Placid, New York and later in Toronto with her coach of the time, Sonya Dunfield.
Until the spring of 1970, Hamill attended public schools in Riverside, but at that point she switched to a small school with flexible tutoring to accommodate her skating schedule. She attended and graduated from Colorado Academy through high school.
Hamill's first national success came in 1969, when she won the novice ladies' title at the U.S. Championships at the age of 12. Later that spring, Hamill was invited to perform in Madison Square Garden with the exhibition tour (in later years known as Champions on Ice) that followed the 1969 World Figure Skating Championships. She placed second at the junior level at the 1970 Championships, and made her senior debut in 1971. The U.S. Figure Skating Association arranged for her to be coached by Carlo Fassi when she began to compete internationally.
Hamill was U.S. champion from 1974 through 1976. At the 1974 World Championships in Munich, Germany, she was in 3rd place after the compulsory figures and the short program. She was set to skate directly after the German skater Gerti Schanderl, whose marks were mercilessly booed while Hamill was already on the ice. Visibly upset, she left the ice and burst into tears. After the crowd settled down, she returned to the ice and skated a perfect and inspiring program; almost winning the gold medal, capturing silver behind Christine Errath of East Germany.
Hamill won silver again at the World Championships in 1975 at Colorado Springs, Colorado behind Dianne de Leeuw of the Netherlands and ahead of Errath. In 1976, Hamill switched boots to skate the compulsory figures better (she had been wearing special boots created by Carlo Fassi that did not seem to be helping her).
Hamill was disappointed by her performance at the 1976 U.S. Championships, admitting that she was outskated by Linda Fratianne because she had not trained properly. Immediately after the national championships, her coach Carlo Fassi then left the U.S. to accompany his other star pupil, John Curry, to the European Figure Skating Championships, leaving Hamill coachless with the Olympics only a few weeks away. She began training with Peter Burrows instead, an arrangement that worked out so well that she wanted to bring him to the Olympics as her coach of record. But again the USFSA intervened and she was reunited with Fassi for a brief period of training in Germany before the Olympics.
At the 1976 Olympics, Hamill came in second in the figures and then won the short and long programs, taking the gold medal. Before Dorothy Hamill took to the ice for her freestyle routine at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, she started crying after seeing a sign in the stands that said, "Which of the West? Dorothy!" At first, she thought detractors made the sign and took it as a message that she was a witch. In the Cold War era, what the sign-makers were cleverly asking is which Western skater – Hamill or Diane de Leeuw of the Netherlands – was going to defeat East Germany's Christine Errath for the gold medal. Then they answered by saying Dorothy. Once Hamill realized the sign was held by her friends, who wanted to shake her out of her usual pre-competition jitters, the three-time U.S. champion felt better. A relaxed Hamill, skating to music from Errol Flynn movies, won the gold medal by a unanimous decision of the nine judges.
The crowd showered her with so many flowers that three girls helped her gather them on the ice. Lord Killanin, president of the International Olympic Committee, put the gold medal around her neck. Though she won't identify the alleged assailant, Hamill said that a competing skater and the skater's coach tried to run her down with a car during the 1976 Olympics. She also won the world championships that year and then turned professional.
She is credited with developing a new skating move; a camel spin that turns into a sit spin, which became known as the "Hamill camel." The bobbed hairstyle that she wore during her Olympic performance started a fad. A Dorothy Hamill doll was made in 1977. She quickly became "America's Sweetheart."
Hamill was an Ice Capades headliner from 1977–1984. She was asked to join Ice Capades by an aging Donna Atwood, who had been its star for years and who had eventually acquired financial control of the Ice Capades, to be Atwood's successor as its new star. After the Ice Capades eventually folded due to competition and changing national tastes in entertainment (notably favoring the professional sports of football and basketball), Hamill bought the financially strapped company's assets in 1993 in an effort to revive earlier successes, but wound up selling it to Pat Robertson's International Family Entertainment, Inc. in 1995.
In 1993, the Associated Press released results of a national sports study. Hamill was statistically tied for first place with fellow Olympian, Mary Lou Retton as the most popular athlete in America ranking far ahead of other major sports stars such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana, Nolan Ryan and 800 other athletes.
Hamill wrote an autobiographical book, On and Off the Ice. She was married and divorced twice: to singer/actor Dean Paul Martin (1982–1984), and then to Kenneth Forsythe (1987–1995), with whom she had a daughter named Alexandra. Her second autobiography A Skating Life: My Story, was published in October 2007 by Hyperion Press.
Hamill has continued to skate in shows, including a regular principal role with Broadway on Ice. She was a special guest in the Brian Boitano-Barry Manilow skating extravaganza at AT&T Park in San Francisco on December 5, 2007.
On January 4, 2008, Hamill announced that she was being treated for breast cancer. Following her battle with cancer, Hamill began encouraging people to eat a plant-based diet to reduce their risks of contracting cancer and other diseases. Hamill was also friends with pop singer and drummer Karen Carpenter. When Carpenter died in 1983 due to complications from anorexia nervosa, Hamill attended the funeral on February 8, 1983.
Hamill is a mentor to 2008 World Junior Champion and two-time U.S. Championship silver medalist Rachael Flatt. Flatt, who competed in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, is a member of the Broadmoor Skating Club and trains at the World Arena and Ice Hall in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the same place where Hamill trained before winning her Olympic gold.
During an interview with Al Michaels of NBC on February 23, 2010, Hamill stated that she had remarried.
Competition highlights and Records and achievements