Know Ohio: Ohio's Olympic Ice Skaters

Could it be our icy winters? Ohio has been home to some impressive ice skaters. Mary shares the stories of David and Hayes Jenkins and Scott Hamilton.

Class Discussion Questions: 

1) Compare and contrast the costumes worn by Scott Hamilton and the Jenkins brothers.

2) Do you think that Scott Hamilton’s height allowed him to perform a backflip? Justify your answer.

Read the Script: 

[Mary] When I think of ice skating, I think about all the times I've lost my footing and face plant. But Ohio is home to some famous ice skaters who don't need to grab onto the wall like me.

Let me introduce to you David and Haynes Jenkins from Akron. These two brothers are both Olympic medalists, The younger brother, David first debuted at the Olympics in 1956. At just 19 years old, he won the bronze medal. Talk about talent. There's even a video on YouTube of David performing a triple axle in 1957. A triple axle is a forward-facing, three and a half revolution jump. David landed that jump 21 years before anyone in competition.

[Male Announcer 1] David Jenkins, 1957 king of the rink.

[Mary] Four years later, he had the chance to get the gold at the 1960 Olympic Games in California. It was the first time the Games were televised, and boy did he put on a show. His performance there even earned him a perfect score of 6.0 from one of the three judges.

On top of David's athletic skills and Olympic medals, he also studied medicine at Case Western Reserve while he was competing. He graduated as a medical doctor in 1963 and then served two years in the United States Air Force.

Enough about David, let's get to his older brother, Hayes. He was the first of the two brothers to win the gold medal in the 1956 Olympics. With an accomplished ice skating family like the Jenkins, it was only natural that Hayes would marry an Olympic medalist, Carol Heiss. She also won the Olympic gold medal for ice skating the same year they were married: 1960.

Another accomplished athlete that we are proud to have from Ohio is Scott Hamilton. Born in Toledo in August of 1958, he was adopted by two professors at just six weeks old and was raised in Bowling Green.

One of the most recognizable things about Hamilton is his height. He's a bit short for an ice skater, just five foot four. A mysterious illness he contracted at two years old caused him to stop growing. He was told he only had six months to live and was misdiagnosed several times before years later, it was discovered that a brain tumor was to blame for his illness as a child. But he never let his stature stop him from becoming a recognized ice skater with a signature move: the backflip. It's a maneuver that the majority of his competitors aren't able to perform, not to mention that is against U.S. figure skating and Olympic competition rules because it is so dangerous. But Hamilton liked to show it off during his exhibition routines. Obviously, it's a crowd favorite.

[Female Announcer] He got penalized for doing the backflip in the short program, in the technical program, but he's been assured he's allowed to put it in today.

[Mary] Besides the backflip, he also was one of the best skaters of his time, with many near perfect or completely perfect scores given to him by judges. Hamilton was a very strong skater, and once he hit his stride, he couldn't be stopped. His first major breakthrough performance was at the 1981 U.S. Championships where he executed a flawless performance, met by a standing ovation before he even finished the routine. After that performance, he never lost an amateur competition.

[Male Announcer 2] The marks for Scott Hamilton of the United States of America for technical merit are.

[Mary] Hamilton's gold medal-winning performance actually ended the 24-year gold medal drought for U.S. men in Olympic figure skating. Despite his major accomplishments, he actually only got the gold medal once in the 1983-84 Winter Olympics. Before that, in the 1979-80 Winter Olympics, he had actually placed fifth but had the honor of holding the American flag in the opening ceremony. Being the talented athlete he was, Hamilton was the first solo male figure skater to be awarded the Jacques Favart Award in 1988 and was inducted in 1990 to the United States Olympic Hall of Fame.

With all the ice we experienced here in Ohio during the winter, it's no wonder that we've produced some amazing ice skaters. Who knows? Maybe you could be the next great ice skater from Ohio. Just slip with style the next time you lose your balance.

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