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Maribel Vinson Owen - US Figure Skating Legend


Maribel Vinson Owen - January 1, 1930

Maribel Vinson Owen - January 1, 1930

Hulton Archive Collection - Getty Images

Ice Skating Champion and Coach:

Figure skating legend and coach Maribel Vinson Owen won the U.S. ladies title in figure skating nine times.

Died Tragically On February 15, 1961:

Maribel Vinson Owen and her two daughters, Laurence and "Little Maribel," were in the plane crash that killed the entire 1961 U.S. Figure Skating Team. Laurence Owen had just won the U.S. Ladies title and her older sister, Maribel Y. Owen, had won the pairs event with partner Dudley Richards. In 2011, they were featured in the figure skating movie RISE that told the story of that tragedy.

Date and Place of Birth:

Maribel Vinson was born on October 12, 1911 in Winchester, Massachusetts to Thomas and Gertrude Vinson.

Early Skating:

Vinson's parents were figure skaters. When she was born, she made an honorary member of the Cambridge Skating Club. When she was nine years old, she began formal skating lessons. When she was twelve, she won the U.S. National Junior Ladies title.


Maribel attended the prestigious Radcliffe College.

Nine-Time U.S. National Figure Skating Champion:

Maribel Vinson won won the U.S. Figure Skating Ladies title in 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1936, and 1937.

Pair Skating Champion:

During the same years that she competed in single skating, Maribel Vinson also competed in pair skating with two different partners. She won the the U.S. Pair Skating title in 1928, 1929, 1933, 1935, 1936, and 1937.

Journalist and Writer:

Maribel Vinson Owen was the first woman sportswriter for the New York Times. She was also the author of three books about figure skating.


After competing in three Winter Olympics (1928, 1932, and 1936), Maribel Vinson married Guy Owen, a Canadian figure skater. The couple first toured together in an ice show and then settled in Berkeley, California and coached skating there. They had two children: Maribel Yerxa Owen was born in 1940 and Laurence Rochon Owen was born in 1944. Guy Owen died in 1952.

Olympic Figure Skating Coach:

Owen eventually returned to Boston. Her two daughters became competitive figure skaters. She coached 1956 Olympic Figure Skating Champion Tenley Albright to Olympic gold. Her daughters competed in the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in both the pairs and singles events.

Other Honors:

Maribel Vinson Owen has been inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, and the Professional Skaters Association Hall of Fame. In the Boston area, an elementary school has been named after her.

Maribel Vinson Owen's Legacy Lives On:

Some of the skaters that Maribel Vinson Owen trained became figure skating coaches. She was the coach of Frank Carroll who coached 2011 Olympic Figure Skating Champion Evan Lysacek, U.S. Figure Skating legend Michelle Kwan, and Olympic Silver Medalist Linda Fratianne. She secretly taught African American figure skating legend Mabel Fairbanks (who was not allowed inside of ice rinks during the day because of the color of her skin). Fairbanks was the first coach of U.S. pair skating legends Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner.

Vinson-Owen's teaching techniques continue to be passed on to figure skaters throughout the USA.

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