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Scott Hamilton (figure skater)

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Scott Hamilton
Scott Hamilton, 2022
Born (1958-08-28) August 28, 1958 (age 65)
Bowling Green, Ohio, U.S.
Height5 ft 4 in (163 cm)
Figure skating career
CountryUnited States
Skating clubPhiladelphia SC & HS
Began skatingAge 9
Medal record
Men's figure skating
Representing United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1984 Sarajevo Men's singles
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1981 Hartford Men's singles
Gold medal – first place 1982 Copenhagen Men's singles
Gold medal – first place 1983 Helsinki Men's singles
Gold medal – first place 1984 Ottawa Men's singles

Scott Scovell Hamilton (born August 28, 1958) is a retired American figure skater and Olympic gold medalist. He won four consecutive U.S. championships (1981–84), four consecutive World Championships (1981–84), and a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. His signature move, the backflip, a feat few other figure skaters could perform at the time, is against U.S. Figure Skating and Olympic competition rules. Yet, he would include it in his exhibition routines as an amateur to please the crowd. Later, he also used the backflip in his professional competition routines.[1][2] He is widely recognized for his innovative footwork sequences.[3] In retirement, he has been involved in charitable work and is the author of three books.

Early life and education[edit]

Hamilton was born on August 28, 1958, in Bowling Green, Ohio.[4] He was adopted at the age of six weeks by Dorothy (née McIntosh), a professor, and Ernest S. Hamilton, a professor of biology,[5] and raised in Bowling Green, Ohio. He has two siblings, older sister Susan (his parents' biological daughter) and younger brother Steven (who was also adopted).[6] He attended Kenwood Elementary School. When Hamilton was two years old, he contracted a mysterious illness that caused him to stop growing. After numerous tests and several wrong diagnoses (including a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis that gave him just six months to live), the disease began to correct itself. His family physician sent him to Boston Children's Hospital to see a Dr. Shwachman. He was told the doctor had no idea what was wrong and to go home and stop the diets in order to live a normal life. Years later, it was determined that a congenital brain tumor was the root cause of his childhood illness.[7] At the peak of his amateur career Hamilton weighed 108 pounds (49 kg) and was 5 feet 2.5 inches (1.59 m) tall,[4][8] but eventually grew to a height of 5 feet 4 inches (1.63 m).[9]

At age 13, Hamilton began training with Pierre Brunet, a former Olympic champion. In 1976, however, he was almost forced to quit skating because the cost of training was too high and he enrolled in college. However, Helen and Frank McLoraine stepped in to provide financial support for Hamilton to continue his training. Hamilton would later work with the McLoraines in continuing philanthropic support for figure skating. Hamilton attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio. The former First Street in Bowling Green was named Scott Hamilton Avenue in his honor.

Skating career[edit]

Hamilton's final performance on the Stars on Ice tour

In 1980, Hamilton finished third in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, earning him a place on the U.S. Olympic team. At this time, Don Laws was coaching him.[10] He finished in fifth place at the 1980 Winter Olympics, where he also had the honor of carrying the American flag in the opening ceremony. His breakthrough performance was in the 1981 U.S. Championships. He performed flawlessly and the audience began a standing ovation several seconds before the end of the performance. He never lost an amateur competition again. In 1981 he won gold in the World Figure Skating Championships.[11] During the long program, he received scores of 5.8s and 5.9s for technical merit and 5.7s at 5.9s for artistic impression out of a perfect score of 6.0. He started the long program off with a triple Lutz jump, his most consistent and hardest jump.[12] He performed a strong program in spite of a minor flub. He won gold again in 1982 and 1983 at the U.S. and World Championships.

At the 1984 Olympics,[13] he won the compulsory figures and placed second in the short program. For the long program, he planned five jumps: a triple Lutz, a triple flip, a triple toe loop in combination with a double loop, a triple toe walley and a triple Salchow. He completed only three of them, missing the triple flip and the triple Salchow.[12] For technical merit, the nine judges gave him three 5.6's, two 5.7's, three 5.8's and a 5.9. For artistic impression, he received four 5.8's and five 5.9's. Brian Orser won the long program and Hamilton was second, but Hamilton won the gold medal because Orser was too far back in the overall standings to catch Hamilton after placing 7th in the compulsory figures, which at the time accounted for 30% of the total score. Hamilton's victory ended a 24-year gold medal drought for US men in Olympic figure skating.[14] He did not attempt the triple Axel jump, a more difficult jump which other skaters in the competition landed.[15] He won that year's World Championships and then turned professional in April 1984.

Hamilton performs during a Stars on Ice show

Figure skating writer and historian Ellyn Kestnbaum, in her critique of male figure skating, called the costumes Hamilton wore during the 1984 Olympics an attempt to mitigate the "erotic affect"[16] of the one-piece, Disco-influenced outfits popular with many male skaters at the time. She described Hamilton's costumes as "simple stretch suits in one color ornamated only by a simple geometic shape in a contasting color", which resembled a warm-up or speed skating suit that emphasized the "acceptable male sport aspect" of figure skating.[16]

After turning professional, Hamilton toured with the Ice Capades for two years, and then created "Scott Hamilton's American Tour," which later was renamed Stars on Ice. He co-founded, co-produced and performed in Stars on Ice for 15 years before retiring from the tour in 2001 (though he still returns for occasional guest performances).

As a professional, Hamilton often performed his signature backflip, a movement that is sanctioned by the International Skating Union (ISU), the organization that governs figure skating. Kestnbaum states that it was "an acknowledgement of the illegality of the move" to the ISU .[17]

He has been awarded numerous skating honors, including being the first solo male figure skater to be awarded the Jacques Favart Award (in 1988). In 1990 he was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame.

Career in media[edit]

Broadcasting career[edit]

Hamilton was a skating commentator for CBS television for many years, beginning in 1985. He has also worked for NBC television. In 2006 he was the host of the FOX television program Skating with Celebrities. He currently serves on the board of directors for Special Olympics International.

Television appearances[edit]

Hamilton voiced the dog dancing commentator on the King of the Hill episode "Dances with Dogs".[citation needed] He was also seen in the 2008 The Fairly OddParents episode "The Fairy Oddlympics" as Timmy Turner's co-host.[citation needed]

He appeared on the August 26, 2008 episode of Wanna Bet?, where he finished 2nd, losing to Bill Engvall. In 2009, he appeared in the second season of Celebrity Apprentice.[18]

He made a small appearance on Roseanne as himself, participating in a mock linoleum skating competition credit sequence.[citation needed] He also made a brief appearance in the film Blades of Glory.[19]

On March 8, 2010, Scott Hamilton: Return to the Ice premiered on the Bio Channel. The two-hour television special chronicled Hamilton's return to skating after battling cancer.[20]

Book authorship[edit]

In 1999, Hamilton wrote the book Landing It, in which he talks about his life on & off the ice. In 2009, Hamilton wrote the book The Great Eight, which shared the secrets to his happiness and how he overcame numerous challenges and disappointments throughout his life.[citation needed] In 2018, he wrote the book Finish First: Winning Changes Everything (publisher: Thomas Nelson), about the value of competition.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]


On November 14, 2002, he married Tracie Robinson, a nutritionist. The couple welcomed their first son in 2004 and a second son in 2008.[21] Later in 2013, the couple adopted two orphaned brothers from Haiti.[22] The family resides in Franklin, Tennessee.[23]


Hamilton is a Christian and has said about his faith, "I understand that through a strong relationship with Jesus you can endure anything... God is there to guide you through the tough spots. God was there every single time, every single time."[24]


In 1997, Hamilton had a much-publicized battle with testicular cancer.[25] Hamilton was initially concerned that he may have been rendered infertile following his cancer treatment, but later went on to father two children.[26] He made a return to skating after his treatment and his story was featured in magazines and on television.[27][28] It was announced on November 12, 2004, that Hamilton had a benign brain tumor, which was treated at the Cleveland Clinic.[29]

On June 23, 2010, Hamilton had brain surgery to prevent the recurrence of the benign tumor discovered in 2004. Called craniopharyngioma, the tumor could have caused blindness if left untreated. The surgery was successful.[30] In November 2010, Hamilton was in the hospital again. During the removal of the tumor, an artery in the brain was "nicked". The bleeding stopped, but an aneurysm formed days later. Hamilton came through the surgery well.[31]

In 2016, Hamilton announced that he had received his third brain tumor diagnosis.[32] In late March 2017, he stated that the tumor had shrunk without chemo.[33]

Charitable work[edit]

In 1990, as the Make-A-Wish Foundation honored its 10th birthday, Hamilton was recognized as the Foundation's first ever "Celebrity Wish Granter of the Year."[34][35]

He founded the Scott Hamilton Cares Foundation to assist with cancer patient support.[36] He has been a longtime volunteer with the Special Olympics and currently serves as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador.[37] Hamilton has also helped benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, of which he is an honorary board member.[38]

Awards and recognition[edit]


Season Short program Free skating Exhibition

Competition results[edit]

Event 76–77 77–78 78–79 79–80 80–81 81–82 82–83 83–84
Winter Olympics 5th 1st
World Champ. 11th 5th 1st 1st 1st 1st
Skate America 1st 1st 1st
Skate Canada 1st
NHK Trophy 4th 1st
Nebelhorn Trophy 2nd
U.S. Champ. 3rd 4th 3rd 1st 1st 1st 1st


  1. ^ Farris, Jo Ann Schneider (November 23, 2007). "Figure Skating 101: All about back flips on ice skates". icenetwork.com. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  2. ^ Meyers, Dvora (February 12, 2018). "No, The Backflip Was Not Banned In Figure Skating Because Of Surya Bonaly". Deadspin. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  3. ^ Shulman, Carole (2002). "Master the Move: Scott Hamilton's Footwork". The Complete Book of Figure Skating. Human Kinetics. p. 93. ISBN 9780736035484. His footwork is legendary. His combination of turns and freestyle moves are original and, oftentimes, humorous.
  4. ^ a b Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (May 26, 2017). "Scott Hamilton: American Figure Skater". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  5. ^ "Scott Hamilton Biography (1958-)". filmreference.com.
  6. ^ "Scott Hamilton Interview". Academy of Achievement. June 29, 1996. Archived from the original on March 2, 2010.
  7. ^ "Words From a Champion: Scott Hamilton".
  8. ^ John Brannon (March 4, 2010). "John Brannon: Step aside world … here comes Sarah". The Tribune. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  9. ^ iTunes Otter Creek Church podcast July 22, 2012 Can I Get a Witness?: The Things That Ruin - Joshua Graves and Scott Hamilton and Tracie Hamilton. Scott, "Wikipedia doesn't always get it right. I'm 5'4"." https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/otter-creek-church/id175107775
  10. ^ Stivers Leach, Melinda (December 14, 1982). "Working up whimsical, new routine a 'big test' for skater Scott Hamilton". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  11. ^ Walter, Claire (March 12, 1981). "Hamilton-Santee figure skating rivalry over, or is it?". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Hamilton, Scott (August 23, 2002). "Scott Hamilton: Training for Olympic Gold". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  13. ^ "Hamilton Wins Gold Medal in Figure Skating". The New York Times. February 17, 1984. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  14. ^ McMahon, James (February 5, 2014). "US Olympic Figure Skating: Ranking the Top 20 Moments of All Time". Bleacher Report. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  15. ^ Meyers, Dvora (February 14, 2014). "Has Figure Skating Maxed Out In Difficulty?". Dead Spin. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Kestnbaum, Ellyn (2003). Culture on Ice: Figure Skating and Cultural Meaning. Middleton, Connecticut: Wesleyan Publishing Press. p. 186. ISBN 0-8195-6641-1.
  17. ^ Kestnbaum, p. 194
  18. ^ Trump Rounds Up Celebs for New Season of the Apprentice NY Times, January 8, 2009
  19. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0445934/characters/nm0358156
  20. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 20, 2010). "BIO Chanel Presents "Scott Hamilton: Return to the Ice" On Monday March 8". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
  21. ^ "Scott Hamilton welcomes second son, Maxx Thomas". Peoplemag. Retrieved May 23, 2024.
  22. ^ "How Scott and Tracie Hamilton Adopted Siblings Orphaned in the 2010 Haitian Earthquake (Exclusive)". Peoplemag. Retrieved May 23, 2024.
  23. ^ Lind, J.R. (March 17, 2016). "Scott Hamilton: The Gold Medalist". Nashville Scene. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  24. ^ Kumar, Anugrah (January 28, 2012). "How Olympic Gold Medalist Scott Hamilton Found Jesus". Christian Post.
  25. ^ "Scott Hamilton". WebMD Biography. WebMD. 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  26. ^ "Brain Cancer Survivor Scott Hamilton". www.patientresource.com. Retrieved May 23, 2024.
  27. ^ Longman, Jere (September 16, 1997). "Figure Skating; His Cancer in Remission, Hamilton Is Back on Ice". New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  28. ^ Slat, Libby (January 15, 1998). "Scott Hamilton Leads With His Heart: The Skater and His 'Stars on Ice' Get a Feeling for Expressing Emotions". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  29. ^ "How To Skate on Thin Ice". Ability Magazine. 2008. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  30. ^ Oh, Eunice (June 24, 2010). "Scott Hamilton Resting Comfortably after Brain Surgery". People.
  31. ^ Benet, Lorenzo (November 26, 2010). "Scott Hamilton Bouncing Back After Brain Surgery, Aneurysm". People.
  32. ^ Nelson, Jeff. "Olympic Skater Scott Hamilton Facing Third Brain Tumor Diagnosis: 'I Choose to Celebrate Life'". PEOPLE. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  33. ^ "After Months Of Rumors, Olympian Skater Scott Hamilton Finally Breaks His Silence". Qpolitical. Archived from the original on February 25, 2018.
  34. ^ "Scott Hamilton headlines Taylors Free Medical Clinic". Greer Today. May 19, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  35. ^ "The Make-A-Wish Foundation". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. February 20, 2002. p. 94. Retrieved February 12, 2018. Make-A-Wish Foundation.... 1990: First Celebrity Wish Grantor of the Year Award is given to Olympic gold medalist skater Scott Hamilton
  36. ^ "Hamilton helping others beat cancer". ESPN. Associated Press. February 14, 2000. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  37. ^ "Special Olympics Ambassadors" (PDF). Special Olympics Annual Report 2012. p. 42.
  38. ^ "Honorary Board". Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Retrieved February 15, 2008.
  39. ^ "'Most Courageous Athlete Award' - Memorable Moments". Philadelphia Sports Writers Association. January 14, 2009. Retrieved April 29, 2012. Note: The winners of the Most Courageous Award for 1977, 1979, 1984, 1986, and 1991 are listed in the cited article with the incorrect year, i.e., the year that follows the award year. (The awards dinner and presentation occur in January or February of the year following the award year.)
  40. ^ Wilstein, Steve (June 17, 1994), The Associated Press
  41. ^ "Coach Yow Receives Courage Award From U.S. Sports Academy". WRAL Sports Fan. April 14, 2008. Past recipients have included Rocky Bleier, Jim Abbott, Lance Armstrong, Roy Campanella and Scott Hamilton.
  42. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees: Sports". achievement.org. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  43. ^ Amdur, Neil (January 22, 1984). "Perfect Scores May Have Begun the Hamilton Era". New York Times.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Olympic Games
Preceded by United States Flagbearer
Lake Placid 1980
Succeeded by
  1. ^ Foundation, Kurt Thomas. "2023 Winner - Scott Hamilton". Kurt Thomas Foundation. Retrieved January 28, 2024.