Blanchard, Theresa Weld (1893–1978)

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Blanchard, Theresa Weld (1893–1978)

American and six-time winner of the women's figure-skating championship. Name variations: under Theresa Weld won first and second U.S. figure-skating titles (1914 and 1920); all others under Blanchard; also infrequently indexed as Weld-Blanchard. Born Theresa Weld in 1893; died on March 12, 1978; daughter of A. Winsor Weld; married Charles Blanchard, in 1920.

First American ladies' figure-skating champion (won the title six times); while skating with Nathaniel W. Niles, won nine gold medals in the U.S. pairs competitions; influential in the U.S. Figure Skating Association for many years, helping to build the sport.

Theresa Weld Blanchard was America's first figure-skating celebrity. During her tenure in the 1910s and 1920s, women's figure skating focused almost entirely on cutting figures on the ice; the only jump was a toe hop. Blanchard changed the sport by performing daring loops and jumps, though she was penalized with lower scores by some judges for being "too unladylike."

Theresa Weld was born in 1893, the daughter of A. Winsor Weld who was devoted to figure skating. It was Winsor who harnessed her pony for the oft-repeated three-mile drive to the Skating Club of Boston when she began practicing at age 12. A member of the club's board, he encouraged the international mode which was a freer, more fluid style than the stiff manner in which Americans then skated.

In 1914, Theresa won the first ladies' championship at New Haven, Connecticut; she went on to win the singles' title every year from 1920 to 1924. She also took a bronze medal in the 1920 Olympics held in Antwerp, Belgium (Magda Julin-Mauroy of Sweden won the gold). Following her marriage to Charles Blanchard in 1920, the media referred to Theresa as "Mrs. Figure Skater, U.S.A." Starting in 1924, while skating pairs with Nathaniel W. Niles, she won nine gold medals in U.S. pairs competitions.

In 1921, Winsor Weld became the U.S. Figure Skating Association's first president. Theresa became editor of the association's magazine Skating in 1923, a post at which she would remain for 50 years. She often served as an official at the Olympics as well.

Karin L. Haag , Athens, Georgia