On This Date in Sports February 15, 1936: The Ice Queen
In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Sonja Henie of Norway cements her title as the Queen of Figure Skating as she wins her third consecutive Gold Medal at the Winter Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany. Cecilia Colledge of Great Britain finishes a close second, while Vivi-Anne Hulten of Sweden takes the Bronze Medal. The decision was controversial as most observers felt that Colledge deserved the Gold Medal. Sonja Henie had won an unprecedented ten consecutive World Championships and six consecutive European titles.
Sonja Henie was born on April 8, 1912, in Oslo, Norway. The daughter of a wealthy furrier in Norway, Henie showed early that she loved the ice following around her older brother. Seeing her ability to skate, Henie's father hired tutors so she could work on skating full-time. He even hired a world-renowned ballerina from Russia named Tamara Karsavina to teach her dance moves that could be translated to the ice.
At the age of 10, Sonja Henie won her first major competition, becoming the Norwegian Champion. A year later, she was invited to the first Winter Olympics in 1924 at Chamonix, France. Henie finished eighth at the age of 11. By the time the second winter games arrived in 1928, Sonja Henie had become a World Champion, winning at the age of 14 in 1927. A year earlier, she finished second. It would be the first of ten straight World Championships for Henie.
At the 1928 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Sonja Henie grabbed her first Olympic Gold Medal, becoming the youngest Olympic champion at the age of 15. The ice was in poor condition as warm weather on the outdoor surface made it rough for some skaters, but Henie came through a champion, beating Fritzi Burger of Austria and Beatrix Loughran from the USA. In 1932 the Winter Olympics came to Lake Placid, New York, and it was Sonja Henie again amazing the American audiences. She repeated her championship, as Frizi Burger again took the Silver Medal. Maribel Vinson of the United States took the Bronze Medal.
Following her victory in Germany, Sonja Henie ended her competitive skating career. She remains the only figure skater to win three Olympic Gold Medals. Henie went on to have a brief acting career, as her exploits on the ice helped make her an international star.