As a native of Mount Vernon, in the state of New York, figure skater Beatrix Loughran did not have far to travel to compete in her third Olympic Winter Games. Contrary to her first two appearances, when she participated in the ladies’ singles competition, this time she and her partner, Sherwin Badger, were focused solely on the pairs event.
Loughran made her big breakthrough in 1924, when she became the first American woman to win a figure skating medal at the Olympic Games (silver) and the ISU World Championships (bronze, in Oslo). In her first Games in Chamonix, she finished second to Herma Szabo (AUT), who performed distinctly better in the imposed figures. In the free skate, although the two audacious and graceful skaters put in equally breath-taking performances, it was Szabo who got the unanimous nod from the seven judges present.
Undaunted, Loughran prevailed at the US Championships in 1925, 1926 and 1927, before entering her second Winter Games at St. Moritz 1928, where the figure skating was dominated from start to finish by the Norwegian star, Sonja Henie. The battle for second and third was much more closely contested, however, with Fritzi Burger (AUT) finally pipping Loughran to the silver medal. In her first foray into the pairs event, she and Badger finished just outside the medals in fourth, in a contest won by the French pairing of Andrée Joly and Pierre Brunet.
The Loughran-Badger duo subsequently racked up three consecutive national championships in 1930, 1931 and 1932, and claimed a bronze medal at the 1930 Worlds in New York. On 12 February in Lake Placid, they locked horns with the era’s most fearsome skating couple, Andrée and Pierre Brunet, who had married in 1929. Both pairs put in magnificent performances, but three of the five judges sided with the French twosome. Consequently, the 1928 champions successfully defended their title, but Loughran still found herself on the podium for a third Games in a row.
Loughran remains the only American to win three Olympic medals in figure skating. She passed away in 1975, and was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1997.