Dorothy Hamill won the Gold Medal at the 1976 winter games in Austria.
More than any other figure skater, and indeed, as much as any American athlete, Dorothy Hamill has influenced our culture. Her world famous "wedge" hairstyle started a fashion craze that Life magazine called "one of the most important fashion statements of the last 50 years."
Having studied under renowned coach Carlos Fassi, Hamill became a master of skating technique and artistry. Her strengths lay not in risky triple jumps but in her flowing grace and creativity. She even invented her own trademark move, the "Hamill Camel," where she moved immediately from a camel spin into a sitting spin.
Painfully shy, Dorothy Hamill tended to let her emotions show on the ice sometimes too much.
At the 1974 world championship in Munich, she took to the ice to a chorus of boos from the German crowd. Distraught, Dorothy Hamill left the ice in tears. What she didn't realize was that the boos weren't for her but for the judges who had just given poor marks to a German skater that had just performed. When she was told what had happened, she returned to the ice to the loudest cheers of the competition and skated her way to a silver medal.
Her popularity transcended sports. She became a celebrity in fashion - her short, bobbed haircut, known as a "wedge," inspired throngs of American women to cut their hair. She even signed a contract to advertise for Clairol.
After the Olympics, Dorothy Hamill went on to win the 1976 world championship, and then she turned professional. She was very active on the pro circuit, winning four consecutive professional world titles in the mid 1980s and then starring in - and eventually buying - the financially strapped Ice Capades.