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Barbara Ann Scott had taken a tough journey to sporting greatness but it bore fruit in St Moritz as she became the first and only Canadian woman to win figure skating gold. Scott was a skating prodigy. She started the sport at the age of seven and, three years later, she has passed the top “gold figures” test, the youngest person ever to achieve that mark. A year after that, she won her first national junior title.
She was senior champion at the age of just 15, a title she retained for the next three years. Then, with the war over, she travelled to Europe and won both the European and world figures skating championships.
Her triumphs were greeted with huge pride and excitement. She was presented with a convertible car, which she had to return in order to keep her amateur status!
In 1948, her dominance continued as she retained the world and European titles, as well as the Canadian national title. She came to St Moritz known as “Canada's Sweetheart”, and regarded as the best skater in the competition.
Conditions could have tripped her up. The ice had been chewed up by two ice hockey matches and, in those days, there was no machinery available to prepare the ice properly. She relied on the advice of an earlier skater – her friend Eileen Seigh of the United States – to describe to her the locations of all the ruts and bumps.
Her performance was as good as had been predicted. Of the nine judges, seven placed her in first place with the other two putting her second. She now had every major title in her possession, and decided the time was right to relinquish her amateur status.
She turned professional after the Games, toured Europe and north America, but remained hugely popular with the Canadian public. She was asked to carry the Olympic torch in the run up to both the 1988 and 2010 Olympic Winter Games.