February 21

This Day in History

Sports

Feb 21, 1952:

Dick Button wins second Olympic figure skating gold

On this day in 1952, men’s figure skater Dick Button wins his second Olympic gold medal. Button captured his first gold prize at the 1948 Olympics, becoming the first American to ever take home the men’s title. After dominating men’s figure skating at the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, Button retired from amateur competition and later became one of the sport’s leading television analysts.

Richard Totten Button was born July 18, 1929, in Englewood, New Jersey. He began skating as a boy and went on to win numerous titles. At the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Button landed the first-ever double axel jump in competition and beat his Swiss rival Hans Gerschwiler to take the gold. He was the youngest man to capture Olympic gold in figure skating and the first American to do so.

Button dominated the sport that year, winning the U.S., North American, European and World championships in addition to the Olympics--the only person to accomplish this feat. On February 21, 1952, at the Olympic Games in Oslo, Norway, Button captured the gold again, landing the first-ever triple loop in competition and beating Austria’s Helmut Seibt. He won the national and world championships that year as well.

Button retired from amateur skating in 1952 and went on to perform with the Ice Capades as well as graduate from Harvard Law School. Additionally, he became a figure skating commentator and has covered the sport for ABC since 1962. Button was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1976.

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