Szabo in 1931
22 February 1902|
7 May 1986 (aged 84)|
Herma Szabo (22 February 1902 – 7 May 1986) was an Austrian figure skater who competed in ladies' singles and pairs. As a single skater, she became the 1924 Olympic champion and a five-time world champion (1922–1926). She also won two world titles in pairs with Ludwig Wrede.
Szabo was born in Vienna, where she came from a family of figure skaters. Her mother was Christa von Szabo, a two time world medalist in pairs figure skating and her uncle was Eduard Engelmann Jr., a three time European Champion in men's figure skating, who built the first artificial ice rink. As a result, Szabo was exposed to the sport at a young age, where she practiced at her uncle's ice rink along with her cousins Helene Engelmann and Christine Engelmann, who went on to marry Karl Schäfer.
She competed as a figure skater under different surnames, which include von Szabó, Plank-Szabo, Planck-Szabo, Jarosz-Szabo and Jaross-Szabo. The International Skating Union uses the surname Szabo to refer to her accomplishments. Szabo won the gold medal at the 1924 Winter Olympics in ladies figure skating. At the Olympics, she helped modernize ladies's figure skating by wearing a skirt cut above the knee. High-cut skirts allowed for more freedom of movement in the legs. Despite this, Sonja Henie is usually credited with being the first to wear short skirts in competition.
Szabo did not compete in the Europeans because the ladies and pair events were not established until 1930. However, she won five consecutive world titles in ladies' figure skating from 1922 to 1926. She is one of four women to have won the World title five times, the others being Sonja Henie, Carol Heiss, and Michelle Kwan.
In addition, she was also an early pioneer in pairs figure skating, where she competed with Ludwig Wrede. They won the World title twice, in 1925 and 1927, and placed third in 1926. She is the only skater to hold a simultaneous world titles in pairs and singles.
With her accomplishments, she is considered to be one of the most decorated figure skaters of all time.
She retired in 1927 after she was defeated by Sonja Henie of Norway at the World Championships. This result was controversial because the judging panel consisted of three Norwegians, a German, and an Austrian. The three Norwegian judges placed Henie first, while the German and Austrian judges placed Szabo first.
She became disillusioned with the sport and never skated again. Henie offered her a rematch years later, but she refused to participate. Her abrupt retirement, led her partner Wrede, to find a different partner for the 1928 Olympic Games, but not with the same success.
Pairs with Ludwig Wrede
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- Not Just Early Olympic Fashion Statements: Bathing Suits, Uniforms, and Sportswear. By Amanda Schweinbenz, accessed July 3, 2006.
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- Worlds Greatest Skaters, accessed July 3, 2006.
- World Figure Skating Museum Hall of Fame Inductees Archived 2007-09-05 at the Wayback Machine., accessed July 3, 2006.
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