Barbara Ann Scott
By Barb Reichert
World Figure Skating Hall of Fame member Barbara Ann Scott, the only Canadian to earn an Olympic gold medal in ladies figure skating, died Sunday, Sept. 30, at her home on Amelia Island, Fla., at the age of 84. Her husband of 57 years, Tom King, was by her side.
Cherished as “Canada’s Sweetheart,” Scott and American Dick Button became the first non-European figure skaters to win Olympic titles, earning their gold medals on the outdoor ice at the 1948 Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Scott and Button became friends in their teens long before the Olympic year, performing in North American competitions and exhibitions in venues such as Maple Leafs Garden in Toronto.
Button, a two-time Olympic champion who is also in the World Hall of Fame, became good friends with King as well. Button said Monday he called their home several times in the weeks prior to Scott’s death.
“Barbara Ann was the dearest person to ever live,” Button said. “She was exquisite, perfectly put together and she always made me laugh. If I heard the telephone ring 50 feet away and knew it was Barbara Ann calling, I would start laughing as I walked toward it.”
In the aftermath of World War II, the two freshly minted gold-medalists made many appearances together: parades, exhibitions and television shows.
“Barbara Ann and I represented fresh, young, healthy people from a happier time,” said Button, 83. “It was after the second World War, and everything was drab and gray. We were a beacon of light, and Barbara Ann was a shining star. She was a living doll.”
A two-time World champion, Scott was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1979. In 1980, she donated her black-and-white feathered ostrich costume, worn during her 1949 skating exhibitions, to the World Figure Skating Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo. A 1948 Laura Laamanen figurine of Scott also resides in the museum.
“She was a first-class lady who was an absolute porcelain doll,” Button said. “Barbara Ann always looked like a million dollars. She always dressed in primary colors and never appeared less than perfect.”
After Scott and Button won the European Championships in 1948 (she as a repeat champion), North Americans were no longer invited to compete.
Scott, who at age 13 became the first female skater to land a double Lutz in competition, remained popular in her home country in an era dominated by ice hockey. She was named Canada’s top athlete in 1945, 1947 and 1948, the year she and the Canadian hockey team each won the Olympic gold medal.
Scott was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, she was among eight Canadians to carry the Olympic flag into the stadium.
“It was a great thrill and a great honor [to carry the Olympic fl ag],” Scott King said.
Button took some solace knowing King was by her side at the time of her death.
“Tommy King was the perfect match for her,” Button said. “He loved her dearly.”
Then he paused.
“I will miss her dearly.”