John Nicks

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John Nicks
Personal information
Full nameJohn Allen Wisden Nicks
Country represented Great Britain
Born (1929-04-22) 22 April 1929 (age 93)
Former partnerJennifer Nicks

John Allen Wisden Nicks (born 22 April 1929) is a British figure skating coach and former pair skater. With his sister, Jennifer Nicks, he is the 1953 World champion. As a coach, his skating pupils have included Peggy Fleming, pairs team Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Kristi Yamaguchi, Sasha Cohen, Rory Flack and Ashley Wagner.

Personal life[edit]

Nicks, the son of a sporting goods store owner, grew up in Brighton, England.[1][2] He is the brother of Jennifer Nicks.[1] Nicks moved to the United States in the 1960s with his wife Denise, son Christopher and daughter Carolyn and was briefly an undocumented immigrant but received his green card a few weeks later.[1] He married American former ice dancer Yvonne Littlefield.[3] He became a U.S. citizen around 2008.[1]


Nicks began skating at age 10 or 11 after his father – who knew nothing about skating but wanted to sell skating equipment – put him in skates in order to learn more about them.[1] John and Jennifer competed initially as singles skaters but agreed to train together in pair skating upon the request of the British association, which promised to support them.[1] They made their first Olympic appearance at the 1948 Winter Olympics, where they finished 8th. Recalling the competition in a January 2013 interview, John said, "it was snowing so much they had to stop the skating after every three skaters to clear the snow."[1] He was impressed by the American skaters at the event, in particular Dick Button – this would later influence his decision to come to the United States.[1]

The Nicks siblings won the first of their four World medals, silver, at the 1950 World Championships. They won World bronze the next two seasons and competed at their second Olympics in 1952, where they finished 4th. The pair won gold at the 1953 World Championships in Davos, Switzerland. John said, "We were skating outdoors back then, and the temperature was, like, 28 degrees during a practice. It was so cold that I remember when I was taking off my boots that my laces were frozen."[1] The siblings retired from competition after the event.

John moved to South Africa, where he skated in shows and began coaching, but moved back to England in 1960 and eventually on to Canada, coaching in Trail, British Columbia.[2] Following the February 1961 crash of Sabena Flight 548, which killed the entire US figure skating team, he received four offers of a coaching job in the United States and agreed to coach at a rink in Paramount, California owned by Frank Zamboni.[1][2] He first appeared at the U.S. Championships as a coach in 1965.[1]

As of 2012, Nicks coaches in Aliso Viejo, California.[2] He has coached over 1,200 skaters during his career.[1] In April 2013, he said he would no longer travel but would still coach Ashley Wagner at the Aliso Viejo Ice Palace.[4] Nicks was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000. He appeared as a judge on the 2006 FOX television program Skating with Celebrities.

His students have included:

Competitive highlights with Nicks[edit]

Event 46-47 47-48 48-49 49-50 50-51 51-52 52-53
Olympic 8th 4th
Worlds 8th 6th 2nd 3rd 3rd 1st
Europeans 6th 5th 6th 3rd 3rd 2nd 1st
British Champ. 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Rosewater, Amy (14 January 2013). "A life in skating: An interview with John Nicks". IceNetwork.
  2. ^ a b c d Reid, Scott M. (27 March 2012). "Time hasn't slowed down figure skating's Nicks". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on 1 May 2012.
  3. ^ Reid, Scott M. (21 February 2006). "Legendary coach gives skaters the edge". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012.
  4. ^ Rosewater, Amy (25 April 2013). "Wagner adjusts after Nicks puts traveling aside". IceNetwork.
  5. ^ Rosewater, Amy (14 June 2011). "Wagner goes West in search of gold medals". IceNetwork. Retrieved 14 June 2011.

External links[edit]