Five To Be Inducted into U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame

(12/11/08) – U.S. Hall of Fame Chair Dede Disbrow announced today the Class of 2009 for induction into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame on Jan. 23, 2009, at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Sonya Klopfer Dunfield
Photo courtesy of the World Figure Skating Museum & Hall of Fame
Sonya Klopfer Dunfield
A 1951 U.S. and North American champion, Sonya Klopfer Dunfield was also a two-time World medalist (1951 bronze, 1952 silver) who has devoted more than 50 years to the sport of figure skating. Klopfer Dunfield, the first-generation daughter of German immigrants, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. As her parents came from a modest background, her training was a financial hardship on her family. Klopfer Dunfield could not afford to have her coach accompany her to the U.S. or North American championships, so she competed at these events without coaching.

She placed fourth at the 1952 Olympic Winter Games. “It meant so much to my mother to have me go to the Olympics,” Klopfer Dunfield said. “She always felt that this country was so wonderful and there were opportunities for all.”

Following her amateur career, she was a principal skater in “Ice Capades,” “Holiday on Ice,” the Roxy Ice Theatre in New York and the Empress Ice Productions in London. Klopfer Dunfield was the 1964 World Professional champion. At age 70, she skated to a standing ovation for her performance in “Legends on Ice.”

Klopfer Dunfield was also a World and Olympic coach, often working more than 14 hours a day while raising two sons. She is Master Rated in figures, free skating and ice dancing, and holds a senior rating in group instruction from the Professional Skaters Association (PSA). She has brought skaters to eight World Championships and three Olympic Games. Among her many world-class students were 1988 Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Manley, whom she coached in Canada with her husband Peter Dunfield, and 1994 World champion Yuka Sato. She still coaches several times a week in Sun Valley, Idaho, where she resides.

She has received numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement and Honorary Members award from the PSA, and with her husband received the Coaches Hall of Fame Award from the PSA in 2005. She was inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame in 2001.

Nancy Meiss
Photo courtesy of the World Figure Skating Museum & Hall of Fame
Nancy Meiss
An administrative icon in skating, Nancy Meiss began judging in 1958 and received her 50-year judge award in 2008. Her list of judging, committee and administrative accomplishments is impressive. Five-time U.S. champion Janet Lynn wrote in Meiss' nomination letter, “Nancy has traveled the world in a lifelong commitment to judge at all levels with high standards and care.”

When asked about being inducted into the U.S. Hall of Fame, Meiss said, “I'm thrilled, and I don't think that anything more wonderful could have happened to me. A lot of people deserve to be in the hall of fame, and I feel very humble about it.”

Meiss has been a national, World and Olympic (1988 Calgary) judge as well as co-chair of the 1979 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and the 1987 World Figure Skating Championships in Cincinnati. She has a plaque signed by the governor of Ohio for her efforts when the World Championships were in her hometown. Meiss was an honorary ISU championship judge in 1995 and a team leader at international competitions. She judged the first U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships and has missed serving as a judge at only one subsequent event. She served as president of the Chicago Figure Skating Club's junior club in 1939 and has earned a reputation for helping to mentor small clubs for membership in U.S. Figure Skating and judging all levels of qualifying competitions.

Meiss was instrumental in starting the Queen City Figure Skating Club of Cincinnati, Ohio, which became a member club of U.S. Figure Skating in 1956, and served as president of the club from 1971-74. She continues to be active in the club and is a lifetime honorary member.

When asked about her favorite memory, Meiss said, “I'll never forget the Olympics in Lake Placid and being part of it. As difficult as it is to run competitions, there were only 25 of us who ran the entire figure skating event,” she said.

Meiss was the co-chair of the practice ice at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. “It was the most interesting, exciting time of my life. We worked 12-to-14-hour days and enjoyed every minute of it.”

Meiss has served on numerous U.S. Figure Skating committees, including the Hall of Fame and Museum Committee. She received the Jimmy Disbrow and PSA's F. Ritter Shumway awards in 2004.

Marjorie Parker and Joseph Savage
Photo courtesy of the World Figure Skating Museum & Hall of Fame
Marjorie Parker Smith and Joseph Savage (1879–1956; posthumously awarded)
Marjorie Parker Smith, who skated initially in a pair of borrowed skates from a former Norwegian figure skater, and her ice dancing partner, Joseph Savage, are being inducted in the “Golden” category. This pair won the first “official” U.S. ice dancing championship in 1936 and followed with a silver medal in ice dancing at the 1937 U.S. Championships representing the Skating Club of New York.

Parker Smith explained that she and most skaters at this time skated as a hobby. Her hobby led to a 1936 U.S. bronze medal in pairs with partner Howard Meredith, and also a gold medal at the fours competition in 1939, skating with George Boltres, and Nettie Prantell and Joseph Savage. She would have been eligible for the 1936 Olympics in two events; however, ice dancing was not a medal event until 1976, and the pairs event had only two spots that year. When asked about her favorite discipline, she replied, “Pairs skating does more for you than other forms of skating. You must have strong arms to do the lifts.”

Parker Smith was asked by Roy Shipstad to join the “Ice Follies,” which emerged after her amateur career. She chose instead to attend college and raise five children, one of whom also competed in ice dancing. When one of her children started teaching gymnastics, she got involved, and she started running at 69 after two of her other children took up the sport. At 93, Parker Smith continues to participate in yoga weekly at a nearby senior center. Her resume also includes being the World indoor track and field record holder for the 600-yard dash (1984) and 300-yard dash (1985) in the 70–74 age bracket.

Parker Smith recites her philosophy simply: “You just don't stop. You have to keep on going. Physically, maybe you can't, but that doesn't mean that you don't try.”

She continues to run daily with a shopping cart to help take the weight off her damaged knee.

Parker Smith was the lady skater in the 1980s movie Splash. She volunteers with WABC's “Call for Action,” a public advocacy service that helps troubleshoot callers' problems.

Savage, according to Parker Smith, was the technical skater who was the former director of the Skating Club of New York. She spoke fondly of her former partner's posthumous induction, saying, “I'm so glad, as Joe has done so much for skating. Joe and his wife, Edith, who went everywhere with him, would have loved this.”

Savage won three additional silver medals with different partners between 1934 and 1939 in ice dancing at the U.S. Championships and fours competition. He also competed at the 1930 World Championships in pairs and the 1932 Olympic Winter Games with different partners.

In addition to being a figure skater, Savage was an accomplished roller skater and could easily switch between sports. The former attorney was a president of U.S. Figure Skating (1937–1940), Amateur Skating Union president in 1937 and, in addition to serving on several committees, chair of the Competition Committee (1940–1945).

Vera Wang
Photo courtesy of the World Figure Skating Museum & Hall of Fame
Vera Wang
Vera Wang received a pair of ice skates as an 8-year-old on Christmas and began taking lessons. She won her first regional championship at 12. She twice competed at the U.S. Championships, placing fifth in 1968 in junior pairs with her partner, James Stuart. She once commented to People magazine in July 1991, “The only thing that I loved as much as skating were clothes.”

Wang rocked the fashion world by becoming the youngest-ever Vogue fashion editor at 23 after studying at Sorbonne, Paris, and graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 1971. Wang is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who settled in New York City after World War II. She came from successful parents who were able to give her and her brother an affluent upbringing, including annual trips for Wang to the Paris couture shows or the world's most stylish boutiques with her mother. This sparked Wang's fashion sense from an early age.

After 16 years at Vogue, Wang became design director of women's accessories at Ralph Lauren. In 1990, Wang, a native New Yorker, founded Vera Wang Bridal House on Madison Avenue partly in response to her extensive search for her own wedding dress.

She told Jane Sharp of Biography Magazine, “I wanted something more elegant and subdued, but there wasn't anything. I realized the desire to fill that niche.”

The boutique initially offered couture gowns by famed designers and later Wang's own signature collection.

Known as a fashion designer for high-profile actresses and film stars, Wang's name is also associated with a full range of personal items, including jewelry and the finest home accessories. In 2002, she launched her first fragrance, with a partnering men's fragrance in 2004. In September 2007, Wang launched “Simply Vera Wang” at Kohl's department stores, bringing her unique style to millions of American families.

She eventually returned to her skating roots by becoming the costume designer for 1994 Olympic silver medalist Nancy Kerrigan, and designed various costumes for two-time Olympic medalist (1998 and 2002) Michelle Kwan, including her 2001–02 free skate dress.

Wang has received many prestigious awards, including Womenswear Designer of the Year in 2005 from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

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