The Forties

World War II had a deep impact on skating internationally, but the United States and the USFSA emerged stronger than ever. Dick Button led the charge known as “The Golden Age of American Skating,” a 14-year run of U.S. dominance abroad. At the end of the decade, Frank Zamboni unveiled the “Model A” Zamboni ice resurfacer, which literally changed the skating landscape.

This year, U.S. Figure Skating is celebrating its centennial anniversary as it recognizes those members, clubs and fans who have given so much to U.S. Figure Skating over the past 100 years. This page honors the top athletes of the 1940s whose competitive achievements defined the decade. Learn more about the athletes from the last 100 years below, and check out the Centennial Celebration section of our website for more content.

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The Forties – Button takes skating world by storm

Gretchen Van Zandt Merrill
Merrill was the woman to beat in the 1940s, winning six consecutive U.S. titles. She also won the bronze medal at the 1947 World Championships and competed at the 1948 Olympic Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Olympian – 1948
World bronze medalist – 1947
U.S. ladies champion – 1943, ’44, ’45, ’46, ’47, ’48

Richard “Dick” Button
After World War II, Dick Button burst onto the scene and redefined figure skating with his athleticism and artistic talent. Button was dominant both in the U.S. and around the world, winning seven consecutive U.S. titles and five straight World titles, both of which are still U.S. records. He then became the first American to win Olympic gold in 1948 and claimed the top spot again at the 1952 Games. At the 1952 Olympics, he became the first skater to land a triple jump of any kind (triple loop). He is also the first and only male skater to simultaneously hold the following titles: U.S., North American, European, World and Olympic. Button’s success launched the “Golden Age of American skating" (1947 to 1961).

Olympic champion – 1948, ’52
Olympian – 1948, ’52
World champion – 1948, ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52
World silver medalist – 1947
U.S. champion – 1946, ’47, ’48, ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52

Karol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy
The brother-sister duo of Karol Kennedy and Peter Kennedy began their stint as one of the best pairs teams in U.S. history in the late 1940s. After winning the silver medal at Worlds in 1947, they went on to claim five consecutive U.S. titles. They secured three more World silver medals and the 1950 World title. They capped their career with a silver medal at the 1952 Olympics in Oslo, Norway.

Olympic silver medalists – 1952
Olympians – 1948, ‘52
World champions – 1950
World silver medalists – 1947, ’49, ’51, ’52
U.S. champions – 1948, ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52

Lois Waring
Lois Waring is a five-time U.S. ice dance champion with two different partners. She won three consecutive titles with Walter Bainbridge from 1947–49, and two titles with Michael McGean in 1950 and ’52.

U.S. champion (with Bainbridge) – 1947, ’48, ’49
U.S. champion (with McGean) – 1950, ’52

Other U.S. World medalists in the 1940s

Yvonne Sherman – 1949, silver

Anne Davies and Carleton Hoffner – 1949, bronze

Other U.S. champions in the 1940s

Joan Tozzer – 1940
Jane Vaughn Sullivan – 1941, ’42
Yvonne Sherman – 1949

Eugene Turner – 1940, ’41
Robert Specht – 1942
Arthur Vaughn – 1943

Joan Tozzer and Bernard Fox – 1940
Donna Atwood and Eugene Turner – 1941
Doris Schubach and Walter Noffke – 1942, ’43, ’44
Donna Pospisil and Jean-Pierre Brunet – 1945, ’46
Yvonne Sherman and Robert Swenning – 1947

Ice Dance
Sandy MacDonald and Harold Hartshorne – 1940, ’41
Edith Whetstone and Alfred Richard – 1942
Marcella May and James Lochead – 1943, ’44
Kathe Williams and Robert Swenning – 1945
Anne Davies and Carleton Hoffner – 1946

Janette Ahrens, Mary Louise Premer, Robert Uppgren and Lyman Wakefield Jr. – 1940
Jacqueline Dunne, Joan Yocum, Edward Van Der Bosch and Larry Van Der Bosch – 1945, ‘46
Janet Gerhauser, Marilyn Thomsen, Marlyn Thomsen and John Nightingale – 1947, ’48

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