Colledge, Cecilia (1920—)

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Colledge, Cecilia (1920—)

British figure skater. Born on November 28, 1920, in England.

Invented many features of figure skating, including the parallel spin, the layback, the one-foot axle; was the first to perform a double jump in competition; won a silver medal in figure skating in the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Olympics, narrowly losing to Sonja Henie who took the gold; won the World Championship (1937).

Cecilia Colledge was an extremely inventive skater. The first to perform the parallel spin or "camel," the layback, and the one-foot axle, she was also the first to execute a double jump in competition. Competitive skating was initially limited to carving precise figures on the ice. Skaters soon tired of this rigid routine, however, and aspired to the moves of ballet artists, leaping and turning in the air. Colledge performed the first free-skating program to a specific piece of music, choreographing her moves. Her model was the American skater, Theresa Weld , who caused a commotion in 1920 when she included "unfeminine" jumps on the ice, including a salchow, in her program. Judges often warned women to "control" their athletic prowess on the ice, but this advice was usually ignored.

Cecilia Colledge began skating at age 11 and was the youngest Olympian in the 1932 Lake Placid Winter Olympics where she placed eighth. In 1933, she was a close second to Sonja Henie for the European championship. In 1935, Colledge won the silver medal in the world championships and the first of eight consecutive national titles. She was British national champion from 1935–39 and from 1946–48. In the 1936 Berlin Games, following the compulsory figures, she was just 3.6 points behind Henie, the closest anyone had come to the incomparable skater for some time. Henie, who barely beat out Colledge in the freestyle with a score of 5.8 to Colledge's 5.7, took the gold and Colledge the silver.

In 1937, after Henie's retirement, Colledge finally won the World Championship, Henie's title for the previous ten years. In 1951, Colledge immigrated to the United States and taught at the Skating Club of Boston, which has formed so many champions. She was elected to figure skating's Hall of Fame in 1980. Although Sonja Henie remains better known, many of the moves that continue to thrill fans were originated by the innovative Cecilia Colledge.

Karin Loewen Haag , Athens, Georgia

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Colledge, Cecilia (1920—)

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Colledge, Cecilia (1920—)