Yvonne Dowlen Shines at 81 Years Young

by Troy Schwindt
Yvonne and Sherry Dowlen

2007 U.S. Adult Championships Results and Photos

(4/13/07) - When the judges applaud, you know you've done something special. That's what happened Thursday afternoon following Yvonne Dowlen's performance at the 13th annual U.S. Adult Championships in Bensenville, Ill.

The 81-year-old Colorado resident wowed everyone with her spunk and skating talent during the masters junior ladies class IV and V competition held at the Edge Ice Arena. Dowlen, who is here with her accomplished skating daughter, Sherry Dowlen, inspired everyone rinkside with her exuberance and passion.

The former Ice Capades skater did some quick math after exiting the ice and figured she's been skating for about 68 years.

“I probably enjoy it more now,” Dowlen said, “and you know why? Because I can still get out there and do it. It's not as good, but hey, I'm there and I'm doing it.”

During her performance, Dowlen said she heard the crowd cheering and “caught some judges smiling at me, too.” Dowlen practices 45 minutes to one hour five days a week at Apex in Arvada, Colo. She has a rich history in sports and has done everything from playing badminton to ski racing to synchronized swimming, but skating has always been a major part of her life.

She's also been a longtime skating coach and teacher and calls herself a “terrible disciplinarian to these kids.

“You know, they don't learn if they don't try, and some of them will want you to hang on to them, and I keep saying, ‘hey, he who walks leaning on someone else never walks gracefully.”

Sherry Dowlen won the first championship masters ladies gold medal in Wilmington, Del., in 1995 and is a five-time champion at that level. Back injuries have hampered her in recent years, according to her mother.

Jodie Maier won the masters junior ladies IV-V event with 34.80 points.

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When Ann Dougherty left her home in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Tuesday for Bensenville, Ill., and the U.S. Adult Championships, the weather couldn't have been better: 50 degrees and sunshine.

“No traffic jams, not a cloud in the sky. It was beautiful,” said Dougherty, who is a member of the Adult Skating Committee and national vice chair for the Competitions Committee. “I got up Wednesday morning to cars and roads covered with wet, heavy, slushy, yucky snow.”

The winter blast created a real dilemma for volunteers and competitors trying to get to Chicago and the Edge Ice Arena.

“Even some of the volunteers who live an hour away who haven't been to this rink couldn't find it because all the street signs were covered with snow, and they didn't know whether to turn right or left. A lot of flights were cancelled with skaters stranded everywhere.”

The snow ended and on Thursday only the bitter cold temperatures remained.