Sonja Henie won more medals Olympic and World titles than any other ladies’ figure skater to date. According to Wikipedia, “Henie is credited with being the first figure skater to adopt the short skirt costume, wear white boots, and make use of dance choreography. Her innovative skating techniques and glamorous demeanor transformed the sport permanently and confirmed its acceptance as a legitimate sport in the Winter Olympics.” Summing it up, she was the first lady to glide around on ice, leap into the air wearing a darling little skirt, do one revolution midair, and land on one foot skating backward in a balletic arabesque. It was the stuff of legends. And if she could have seen Nathan ‘Quad’ Chen skate his freeform recently, she probably wouldn’t have believed her eyes. Six quadruple turns in one program. It was hard for me to believe and I am no Sonja Henie.
To spill all, Ms. Henie was born into a wealthy Norwegian family and became famous during Hitler’s rise to power. There has been controversy over her acceptance of him during the war, but she denied most accusations and donated pots of money to the Norwegian Relief Fund once she came to America. There is no doubt she had a checkered political past, but she was and is the mother of figure skating, as we know it today. If you get a chance, see Sun Valley Serenade, a film she made in 1941 with John Payne. Not only do you see her skate, you can watch her ski. And the movie is a hoot!