Jeannette Altwegg

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Jeannette Altwegg
Jeannette Altwegg 1951.jpg
Altwegg in 1951
Personal information
Full name Jeannette Eleanor Altwegg
Country represented  United Kingdom
Born (1930-09-08) 8 September 1930 (age 87)
Bombay, India
Former coach Jacques Gerschwiler
Skating club Queens Ice Dance Club, London
Retired 1952

Jeannette Altwegg, CBE (married name: Wirz; born 8 September 1930) is a British former figure skater who competed in ladies' singles. She is the 1952 Olympic champion, the 1948 Olympic bronze medalist, the 1951 World champion, and a double (1951 & 1952) European champion.

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Altwegg was born on 8 September 1930 in Bombay, India.[1][2] She was raised in Lancashire, the daughter of a British mother and Swiss father.[3] She was a competitive tennis player, reaching the junior finals at Wimbledon in 1947 before giving up the sport to focus on skating.

Skating career[edit]

Altwegg was coached by Jacques Gerschwiler and was known for her strong compulsory figures.[3] She won bronze at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, finishing third behind Barbara Ann Scott of Canada and Eva Pawlik of Austria. In 1951, she stood atop the podium at the European Championships in Zurich and at the World Championships in Milan.

Altwegg successfully defended her continental title at the 1952 European Championships in Vienna. She was awarded gold at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway, ahead of Tenley Albright of the United States and Jacqueline du Bief of France.[2] She became the first British woman to win an individual gold medal at a Winter Olympics. Her achievement was not matched until the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver when Amy Williams won gold in skeleton.[4] Altwegg was the first British woman to have won two individual medals (gold and bronze) at the Winter Olympics.

After her Olympic victory, Altwegg bypassed a lucrative professional career due to a knee injury.[3] In 1953, she was awarded the Order of the British Empire. She was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1993.[5]

Later life[edit]

After retiring from skating, Altwegg worked at Pestalozzi Children's Village in Switzerland.[6] She married Marc Wirz, the brother of Swiss skater Susi Wirz. They had four children before divorcing in 1973.[3] Their daughter Christina Wirz was a member of Switzerland's 1983 World champion curling team.[7]


Event 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952
Winter Olympics 3rd 1st
World Championships 5th 4th 3rd 2nd 1st
European Championships 4th 5th 3rd 2nd 1st 1st
British Championships 1st 1st 1st 1st


  1. ^ "Jeannette Altwegg". International Olympic Committee. 
  2. ^ a b "Jeannette Altwegg". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 3 July 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d Russell, Susan D. (1 August 2011). "Jeannette Altwegg: Recollections from the Past". IFS Magazine. 
  4. ^ "Amy Williams wins historic gold medal at Winter Olympics". Bath Chronicle. 20 February 2010. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. 
  5. ^ "World Figure Skating Hall of Fame". 
  6. ^ Goodbody, John (21 February 2010). "Jeannette Altwegg: the tennis player who skated her way to gold". Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "European Curling Federation: ECC Winners". Archived from the original on 26 May 2011.