"I wasn't particularly athletic or gifted, but I loved it. I'd be at the skating rink all day long, just skating around and around. I could be all alone and nobody could get near me and I didn't have to talk to anybody. I was in my fantasy world."
As a little girl in Riverside, Connecticut, Dorothy Hamill was shy and withdrawn. An older brother and sister won praise for their athletic and academic accomplishments, and Dorothy felt left behind, especially skating on the frozen pond near her grandparent's house. When her mother offered her skating lessons, she seized the opportunity and never looked back. In a few years she was winning national youth competitions and working with the country's top coaches.
In 1976 she dazzled audiences around the world with her grace, athleticism and winning personality at the Winter Olympics. The judges unanimously awarded her the Gold Medal. At age 19 she had become one of the most popular athletes in America, the internationally recognized face of figure skating.
She won three consecutive national figure skating championship and capped her Olympic triumph with a victory in the World Championship of Figure Skating. As a professional, she has continued to captivate audiences as the star of live performances and her own television specials, and found time to win five consecutive professional championships.
To this day, Dorothy says she skates because, "I just love it. It's carried me through a lot of tough times, skating has. It's my release, it's my therapy." She fondly quotes the words of a blind child she carried on her back for a ride on the ice: "Oh! I can feel the wind on my face!"