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Wendy Burge, Dorothy Hamill, Linda Fratianne

1976 U.S. National Figure Skating Ladies Medalists

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Lost skating photos taken by LeRoy Miltner were found after thirty years!
Wendy Burge, Dorothy Hamill, Linda Fratianne

Wendy Burge, Dorothy Hamill, Linda Fratianne

Photo by LeRoy Miltner 1976

SERENDIPITY by LeRoy Miltner

Sometimes a unique opportunity presents itself, and can be grasped if one is prepared to take action. Such was the case for me in January, 1976, when I took my wife and two sons to see the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs. As an avid amateur photographer, with some quite good equipment, I carried my camera and flash in the hope of getting some nice photos. What happened blew me away.

The crowd knew that the skaters who won this competition would represent the U.S. at the upcoming winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Many in the stands had their favorites and cheered them on with fervor. There were a lot of fine skaters, making the competition close and my wife and children enjoyed it completely. While the contestants waited nervously, the judges tallied their scores, and finally announced the victors in the several categories. One by one the champions came onto the ice, beaming, crying, waving to their families and friends. Then came the surprise.

There was not a photographer in sight! As the skaters congratulated each other with hugs, and hand-shakes, I made a bold decision. With camera in hand, I climbed down onto the ice and approached the medalists. I must have looked official, or else the young men and women were so dazzled by their winning that it didn't make a difference. First, I asked Dorothy Hamill to pose for me, which she did gladly. Then Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia followed by the other singles and pairs. They seemed glad to comply with my requests, and I was in photographers' heaven.

I was too busy with my new job to think about the photos for several months, until I learned that Miss Hamill had won a gold medal at the Olympics and was victorious at the World Championships in Göteborg, Sweden. When I looked for the slides, they were nowhere to be found. Finally, I put them out of my mind, quite convinced that they had been lost.

In late 2007, I found a box with hundreds of old photos which were bundled together by year. I chose the year 1976. I began to look at each slide, one by one, and sat wide-eyed and almost unbelieving when the ten missing skating photos appeared! After more than thirty years, the lost were found, and can at last be shared with others!

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