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John A.W. Nicks - Coach of Ice Skating Champions


Sasah Cohen and John Nicks

Sasha Cohen and John Nicks

Copyright © Paul/Michelle Harvath

Coach of Champions:

John A.W. Nicks is considered one of the top figure skating coaches in the world. He has coached several ice skating champions. He has taught figure skating for over forty years. His students have won over thirty-seven national U.S. titles and won over thirteen medals at the World Figure Skating Championships.

Sasha Cohen's Coach:

John Nicks recognized Sasha Cohen's talent when she was a little girl. He developed that talent and turned Sasha Cohen into a figure skating champion.

Always "Mr. Nicks":

John Nicks expects all of his students (and the parents of his students) to call him "Mr. Nicks."

World Pair Champion:

John Nicks won the 1953 World Pair Skating Championship with his sister Jennifer. They competed for Great Britain. The brother-sister pair skated in many ice shows after that.

Early Years:

John Nicks was born on April 22, 1929 in Great Britain. He and his sister were Brighton, England's most famous skaters after World War Two. His parents owned a sporting goods store in Brighton.

Moved to the United States in 1961:

Mr. Nicks came to the United States in 1961 following the plane crash that took the lives of the entire United States figure skating team and coaches. Some of the best coaches from all over the world were invited to relocate to United States to fill the void when the U.S. lost most of its best figure skating coaches in that tragedy.

Chose California:

Mr. Nicks explained that he ended up in southern California when he was told he could live near Long Beach, California and teach at Iceland in Paramount, owned by the famous Zamboni family. He pictured a "long, long beach" and decided that southern California seemed like an inviting place to move to.

Top Ice Skaters that John Nicks has Trained:

Pair skating teams that John Nicks has trained include Jo Jo Starbuck and Kenneth Shelley, Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, and Jenny Meno and Todd Sand. He also coached Peggy Fleming, Tiffany Chin, Christopher Bowman, Natasha Kuchiki, Kristi Yamaguchi and Rudy Galindo, and Naomi Nari Nam.

He coached 1976 British pair skating champions Erika Susman and Collin Tayforth. They were Mr. Nicks' only students to win the British pair skating title.

In the early part of her skating career, John Nicks coached 1975 World Champion and 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist, Dianne DeLeeuw.

Teaches Skating in His Shoes:

Mr. Nicks rarely puts on a pair of ice skates when he coaches figure skating. He is remembered for standing in the center of an ice rink's surface in his shoes and not moving an inch. Pair skaters and free skaters jump and spin around him when he coaches.

Judge With "Skating With Celebrities":

In 2006, Mr. Nicks was asked to be a judge on the reality television show "Skating With Celebrities."

John Nicks Quote:

"There are many more talented coaches than talented skaters."

Past Director of Skating for Ice Capades Chalets:

For many years, Mr. Nicks directed the figure skating programs for Ice Capades Chalets. Many of his former students and other figure skaters began careers as ice skating instructors through that venture.


John Nicks is married to 1962 U.S. National Ice Dance Champion, Yvonne Littlefield. He has children from a previous marriage.

World Figure Skating Hall of Fame:

In 1993, John Nicks was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

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