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Tenley Albright - 1956 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

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Tenley Albright - 1956 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Tenley Albright - 1956 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

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First American to Win the Olympic Ladies Figure Skating Title:

Tenley Albright was the first female Olympic figure skating champion from the United States. She became the Olympic Figure Skating Champion in 1956. She also won the silver medal at the 1952 Olympic Winter Games.

First American World Figure Skating Champion:

In 1953, Tenley Albright became the first woman from United States to win the World Figure Skating Championships. She was only seventeen years old at the time.

First "Triple Crown" Winner:

In addition to winning the World Figure Skating Championships in 1953, Albright also won the US Ladies Figure Skating title and the North American Figure Skating Championships. She was the first person to win all three titles in one year.

Date and Place of Birth and Family:

Tenley Emma Albright was born on July 18, 1935 in Newton Center, Massachusetts. Her parents were Hollis Albright and Elin M. Peterson Albright. She grew up in Boston area of Massachusetts. Her father was a prominent surgeon. Albright has been married twice. She has three daughters.

Early Skating:

Albright began ice skating when she was eight years old in her backyard that was flooded and made into an outdoor ice skating rink. She began taking skating lessons about a year later. Her coach was figure skating legend Maribel Vinson Owen.

Polio Victim:

When she was eleven years old, Albright was unable to walk, was hospitalized, and was confined to bed when she was diagnosed with polio. Fortunately, she was able to use her legs again and skate again. In fact, skating helped her regain her strength. She began serious figure skating training to help in the recovery process.

Education and Career:

In 1953, Tenley Albright began pre-medical studies at Radcliffe College. She skated in the early morning hours and also fit in school and homework, ballet, and other activities during her undergraduate years.

She took a year off from education and studies during the year she won the 1956 Winter Olympics. After winning the Olympics, she left competitive figure skating. In 1957 she began Harvard Medical School and graduated from medical school in 1961.

Albright went on to become a surgeon. Her younger brother, Niles, also became a surgeon.

Competition History:

  • 1948 New England Regional Junior Ladies Figure Skating Champion
  • 1949 Eastern Sectional Junior Ladies Figure Skating Champion
  • 1950 New England Regional Senior Ladies Champion
  • 1950 and 1951 Eastern Sectional Senior Ladies Champion
  • 1950 United States National Junior Ladies Figure Skating Champion
  • 1951 United States Senior Ladies Silver Medalist
  • 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, and 1956 United States National Senior Ladies Champion
  • 1952 Olympic Figure Skating Silver Medalist
  • 1953 and 1955 World Figure Skating Champion
  • 1953 and 1955 North American Figure Skating Champion
  • 1954 and 1956 World Figure Skating Silver Medalist
  • 1956 Olympic Figure Skating Champion

Additional Athletic Honors:

Tenley Albright was appointed to the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1976. When she accepted that honor, she was the first woman ever to hold a position on the U.S. Olympic Committee. She also is a member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

Tenley Albright Trivia:

Two weeks before Albright won the 1956 Olympic Figure Skating title, she was hurt while practicing. A huge gash type wound was on her right ankle. Her father treated the injury, but it was uncertain if she would be able to successfully compete at the Olympics. She competed while she was in pain and did win Olympic gold.

At the 1951 Eastern Sectional Figure Skating Championships, Tenley Albright won the senior pairs title with Dudley Richards. (Richards was killed in the 1961 plane crash that killed all the members of the US World Figure Skating Team.)

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