Author Archives: gspoden

Scott Hamilton update

Scott Hamilton gets personal his ‘humbling’ brain tumor miracle

‘It just puts you on your knees’

Johnny Dodd

Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Scott Hamilton still remembers the moment he received the unexpected news about the tumor growing inside his brain – and how it floored him.

Click here to view the video

In August 2016, the 58-year-old married father of four kids, who became an overnight sensation after winning Olympic gold in 1984, was diagnosed with his third benign pituitary tumor in 12 years.

Six months later he sat in his surgeon’s office anxiously awaiting the results of an MRI and potentially more bad news.

But the surgeon, who was scheduled to remove the growth, stood in his office, studying the results with a puzzled look on his face before announcing, “This is remarkable.”

“What’s going on?” Hamilton recalls asking the surgeon in an interview that appears in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. (Watch the full episode of the Jess Cagle Interview: Scott Hamilton Today, available now on the new People / Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN).)

The surgeon replied, “It actually is much, much smaller.”

“Can you explain this?” Hamilton asked.

The surgeon’s reply was simple, direct and not at all what one of America’s most beloved Olympic athletes expected.

“God,” he announced.

Hamilton, who had begun relying on Christianity to help him through his earlier health struggles, including his battle with stage 4 testicular cancer in 1997, was literally floored by the physician’s news.

“I was on my knees and [my wife] Tracie was in tears,” he says.

Having long ago grown used to the unpredictability of tumors (he was diagnosed with two other brain tumors in 2004 and 2010), Hamilton knows his health worries are far from over.

“It doesn’t mean just because it receded once that it’s going to stay there,” he says. “They’re nasty, insidious, little, mischievous buggers, and they like to come back, so I’ll keep an eye on it. But right now I’ve got a break, and I need to stay on this path of just being healthy and living right, living well, being faithful, and hoping for the best.”

This article originally appeared on

World Figure Skating Hall of Fame Class of 2017 announced




COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Olympic champions Alexei Yagudin and Trixi Schuba and longtime coach Alexei Mishin headlined the latest class to be elected to the Figure Skating Hall of Fame on Monday.

Yagudin won four world championships and gold for Russia at the 2002 Winter Games before his career, and his long rivalry with countryman Evgeni Plushenko, was cut short by a congenital hip disorder.

Schuba won gold at the 1972 Winter Games for Austria, while Mishin’s proteges have combined to win three Olympic gold medals, five world titles and nearly two dozen Russian championships.

Also elected were Chinese Olympic pairs champions Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo and longtime choreographer Sarah Kawahara of Canada, while posthumous inductees include Vivi-Ann Hulten of Sweden, Hans-Rudi Mauch of Switzerland, Werner Rittberger of Germany and Phyllis Wyatt Johnson and James Johnson of Britain.

DECC Athletic Hall of Fame to enshrine six in May

By News Tribune on Apr 1, 2017 at 8:59 p.m.

The 26th DECC Athletic Hall of Fame will induct a record number of entrants when the biennial ceremony is held May 24.

Former Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey coach Mike Sertich, ex-UMD football great Ted McKnight, Cloquet standout girls basketball player Debbie Hunter, one-time University of Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi and the pioneering Duluth brother-and-sister figure skating team of Bob and Ruby Maxson will join the ranks of inductees at the DECC’s Harbor Side Convention Ballroom.

Sertich gained legendary status in the Northland for guiding the Bulldogs to three WCHA regular-season titles, two league playoff titles, the school’s first four NCAA Division I tournaments and Frozen Fours in 1984 and 1985. He was named winner of the 1984 Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year.

The Virginia native eschewed a football scholarship at the University of North Dakota to play hockey at UMD, where the defenseman was voted Most Improved Player his senior year.

After coaching hockey and baseball at Grand Rapids High School, Sertich returned to UMD as an assistant coach in the mid-1970s. He became head coach in 1982 and stayed for 18 seasons before departing and coaching three more years at Michigan Tech.

The other inductees:

  • McKnight, a Duluth Central alumnus, left UMD in 1976 with a then-school-record 2,957 yards rushing, earning Little All-American recognition. He led NCAA Division II in rushing as a senior (1,482 yards) and set the school’s single-game mark of 235 yards, as well as records for touchdowns in a single season (22) and a single game (6). He was drafted by the NFL’s Oakland Raiders in the second round in 1977 and played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills from 1978-82, leading all NFL rushers with a 6-yards-per-carry average in 1978.
  • Hunter led Cloquet to its first girls basketball state tournament in 1978 and was a two-time honorable mention All-American guard at the University of Minnesota from 1980-83, where she held 11 team records, including career marks for assists and steals. The university retired her number and inducted her into its hall of fame. Hunter later coached at Bethel University for 10 years, Colorado College for two years and Austin (Texas) College for 11 years before retiring.
  • Maturi, who played basketball on Bob McDonald’s first Chisholm team in 1961-62, graduated from Notre Dame and coached high school sports in Wisconsin, where he eventually was inducted into the state’s basketball hall of fame. He later served as associate athletic director at Wisconsin and athletic director at Denver University and Miami, Ohio, before holding the same position at Minnesota for 10 years until 2012.
  • The Maxsons were featured performers in the Shipstads and Johnson Ice Follies in 1937 and, starting in 1946, the Ice Capades. Bob Maxson later was a choreographer for the Ice Capades with his wife, Helen. He died in 1999 at age 79. After performing, Ruby taught skating in California and Colorado before dying at age 81 in 2003.

If you go

What: 26th DECC Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony

When: Wednesday, May 24

Where: DECC Harbor Side Convention Ballroom

Schedule: Social hour, 6 p.m.; dinner, 7 p.m.; awards presentations, 7:30 p.m.

Guest speaker: Pat Francisco

Tickets: Available at DECC ticket office, 350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday; tickets are $35 (cash or credit card only)

Information: Scott Keenan at (218) 343-0792 for general info regarding Hall of Fame


Kicking Some Ice

Synchronized skating team includes Saco residents and John Niles Merrill

By Garrick Hoffman, Staff Writer

Maine’s only adult synchronized skating team, The DownEasters. From left to right is Clelia Sigaud (Saco), Lynne Cote (Saco), Nina Sylvia (West Bath), MinAh Kim (South Korea/Bates College), Sue Gagne- Rousseau (Lewiston), Sarah Holmes (Cumberland), John Niles Merrill, coach and skater (Augusta), Chelsea Ferk (Saco), Sarah Lawsure (Scarborough), Heidi Coffin, team manager and skater (Brunswick), Suzanne Gagne (Harpswell) and Maureen Matatall (Naples). Not pictured is Elaine Letourneau (Saco). (Courtesy Heidi Coffin) SACO – After just one competitive season, Maine’s only adult synchronized skating team, the DownEasters, has returned home with two gold medals and a bronze medal.

Composed of 11 skaters – including four from Saco – and led by Coach John Niles Merrill, the DownEasters performed in four competitions and traveled as far as Hershey, Pennsylvania – where the U.S. Figure Skating Eastern Synchronized Skating Championships took place – to compete. Merrill said the 11 skaters range from ages 19 to 63, with a median age of 43.

Clelia Sigaud, 27, of Saco is a skater for the DownEasters and has been skating since she was 13. Sigaud said she’d like to see the DownEasters expand by splitting into more competitive divisions and recruiting more skaters, saying it would be “a winwin for everyone.” (Garrick Hoffman photo) The skaters from Saco include Clelia Sigaud, Chelsea Ferk, Lynne Cote and Elaine Letourneau.

The DownEasters practice one day a week at Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn because of the skaters’ tight schedules and diverse, spread-out living locations, Merrill said.

“This goes against even my better judgment,” Merrill said with a laugh, “but it has worked. To look at it on paper, or when they said it to me last year, I said we can’t do this. You’ve got to skate twice a week.”

DownEasters skaters come from towns such as Naples, Brunswick and Augusta, where Merrill lives. One skater comes from New Hampshire.

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Betty Barnes – Oldest Living Ice Capades Alumni

Concord Township woman heads to Ice Capades reunion as oldest living member

By Matt Skrajner, The News-Herald, Posted: 06/08/15, 3:38 PM EDT | Updated: on 06/09/2015

When Concord Township’s Betty Barnes travels to Las Vegas later this month, she’ll be able to relive her time with one of the most popular traveling shows of the past century.

Barnes, 94, is the oldest living member of the Ice Capades and is heading out West to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee for the 75th anniversary of the Ice Capades from June 21 to 24 at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.

“It was a good way to see the country and I enjoyed it,” Barnes said.

Growing up in Euclid, Barnes danced ballet and eventually fell in love with ice skating.

“Girls my age were all mesmerized by it,” she said.

From 1942 to 1953, with a short break for the birth of her first child, Barnes traveled across the country and even to England as part of the Ice Capades. The show focused on ice skating, but also occasionally featured comedians, acrobats and jugglers.

Over the years, famous skaters including Olympic gold-medalists Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton were members of the cast.

The performance was most successful from the 1940s to the 1980s, when popularity finally began to fade. The company eventually went out of business in the mid-1990s.

Barnes recalled practicing for an upcoming show in a parking lot outside of an arena in California. The group was preparing for a military-themed musical number and an actual Marine sergeant was brought in to help with the performance.

As one might expect, the sergeant was a bit harsh on the skaters and demanded perfection. Once the show started, the sergeant grabbed a front row seat.

“Every girl that saw him said he was crying,” she said. “It was funny because he was so tough in the practice.”

Barnes’s son, Edwin Loeb, said about 600 people who worked on the show in different capacities are set to make the reunion in Las Vegas. He knows of two others who are in their 90s who will be attending, but that his mother is the oldest.

“The Ice Capades was a big and glamorous thing back then,” said Loeb, a Willoughby resident. “They’re going to be the belles of the ball.”

The celebration also will be a family reunion of sorts, as Barnes’ two other children and grandchildren who live out of state will be meeting up in Las Vegas as well.

“We’ll definitely take her to the craps table,” Loeb said, describing his mother as 94 going on 40.

After her years traveling with the Ice Capades, Barnes settled in Timberlake Village and instructed young ice skaters at C.E. Orr Ice Arena in Euclid for 20 years.

“When I started, there wasn’t a roof,” Barnes said.

At first Barnes was hesitant about going to the reunion, but she was told this could be the last Ice Capades reunion.   “I decided it would be fun to try to meet up with some people I knew from back then.”


Bob Turk

February 1, 2017 marked the date that a big spotlight went out we lost our beloved Bob Turk.    Even though he was bigger than life, he was a quiet man and heard that he laid down for a nap and quietly and peacefully went to sleep.   At Bob’s request, he did not want a funeral and it is unknown at the present time whether there will be a memorial service.

Over 2 year’s ago, Bob wrote a love letter to his ‘kids’ on Facebook.   Most of you have already seen it, but just in case you missed it, here it is again.  It tells how much he loved us and how we impacted his life.   He impacted ours as well and we will all remember what he did for us.  It has been left it exactly as he wrote it as it was written as if he was having a conversation with each one of us.  Click here to read his letter.  Bob Turk love letter

Here’s a speech by Bob at the 2010 Ice Capades reunion, in which he pays tribute to fellow icon, Rita Palmer, mother of FB friend Dianne Palmer Walker.  Click here to view it.

Here’s a tribute Video to Bob, showing him accepting his election into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, class of 2010!  Click here to view it.

Our Alumni in the News

A Little Look at Lifts

Did you know that our very own Dench and Stewart helped to create the lifts that we see today.  Read on.

Although we have certainly explored a wide range of topics in figure skating history to this point, it seems like pairs skating often gets the short end of the stick. I wanted to rectify that today by taking a little look into the early history of lifts in pairs skating.

In his 1959 book “Ice-Skating: A History”, figure skating historian Nigel Brown noted that “pair-skating which had been originally recognized by the International Skating Union in 1908 when the first World Championships in that event was staged in St. Petersburg, continued to be practiced for the next fifteen years along the classic lines of its inception. Three schools of influence combined in designing the classic expression of pair-skating at the beginning of the century. The English school which very early furnished world champions in this branch emphasized a pleasing choreographic structure of programme executed with a certain technical precision. The Viennese school which introduced spirals and spins into pair programmes concentrated on dance steps, speedily and gracefully executed. The German school whose representatives captured the first world pair title gave full expression to the movement of limbs producing a theatrical effect.” The introductions of ‘field figures’ (each partner performing the same school figures far apart) and shadow skating by T.D. and Mildred Richardson, were both first met with opposition but became important components of early pairs skating programs. Early forays in adding lifts to programs by The Brunet’s and Lily Scholz and Otto Kaiser (a weightlifter) were met with the same controversy shadow skating once received. Brown noted that “lifts were received with mixed feelings and regarded with distaste by many. Some looked upon lifts as acrobatics which did not belong to pure skating. There certainly was a crudity about them when first introduced, but no medium could be more adapted for expressing aerial grace than skating.”
1936 Olympian Rosemarie Stewart and her husband Robert Dench, who emigrated from Great Britain to California in 1940 and became stars of the Ice Capades, penned a 1943 book called “Pair Skating And Dancing On Ice”. It is one of the earliest books that offers any sort of concise glimpse into which elements pairs teams were including in their programs during this era. Stewart and Dench offer a clear distinction between lifts and carries: “For a lift, the man raises his partner from the ice, turning her with a continuous movement in the air, and places her back on the ice; for a carry, he picks up his partner from the ice and holds her in the air as long as he wishes before setting her down. The former is a continuous movement; the latter is sustained… Carries are not allowed in competition, as they are considered ‘strong-man stuff.’ You should therefore reserve them for exhibitions, and only use lifts in your competitive program.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.


Ice Capades – The Blade

December 18, 2016

The Jacqueline du Bief Story


“One does not take up skating; skating just takes up you.” – Jacqueline du Bief, March 23, 1954

Back in the fourth installment of “The Other World Champions” series here on the blog, we oh so briefly explored the story of one of the most enigmatic skaters to capture the world’s attention during her era. For a long time I have wanted to write at length about Jacqueline du Bief’s important contribution to the skating world… but there have been a couple of roadblocks. There’s not a wealth a video footage of her publicly available and much of the source material written about her career isn’t in the English language. That said, with a translated copy of her 1956 autobiography in hand, a wealth of English sources and what French sources I could roughly translate, I put my nose to the grindstone and was able to come up with this biographical sketch which I hope will shed some new light on just how big a deal this French star really was.

Born December 4, 1930 in Paris, France, du Bief started skating at the age of four with her older sister Raymonde at the Molitor Rink and became immediately hooked. Both sisters actually studied ballet prior to receiving high level instruction in skating, which was a complete juxtaposition to how most skaters of the era would have approached the sport in their youths. When she started taking lessons with Lucien Lemercier, she was a quick learner and by nine years of age, she was already making quite an impression. One of the first mentions of du Bief wowing crowds was around this time. The August 21, 1939 issue of the French language newspaper “Le Figaro” cites her as a star of Lè bal des Petits Lits Blancs in Cannes, an opulent summer festival where she demonstrated her skating prowess alongside other performers such as soprano Lily Pons, ballet dancer Serge Lifar and le ballet de l’Opéra-Comique.

After winning the French junior title – her first competition – du Bief moved into the senior ranks. In “Thin Ice”, she explained that in her first senior competition “the day began with a heavy air raid and I arrived at the rink with a strange feeling of discomfort and fatigue… When my turn came, I presented myself without enthusiasm and I executed a programme in which the greatest difficulties consisted of one ‘Lutz’, 3 consecutive loop jumps on the same foot, and a long spin of four turns. There were six of us and I got fourth place, but we had not left the dressing-room before the siren went, announcing another aid raid. We remained for two hours in the underground shelters of the building. There, stretched on a bench, and rolled in a blanket, I became feverish and red spots broke out over my face. When we at length got back home, my mother said to me: ‘Tomorrow I will buy you a book and some crayons, and you’ll have to stay in bed – you’ve got measles.'”

When Paris fell to the Nazis on June 14, 1940, the trajectory of du Bief’s budding career was affected greatly. During the German occupation, power plants were taken over and ice rinks were closed. With no artificial ice to be heard of, du Bief returned to where she started, practicing wherever the nearest lake froze over once she recovered from her illness. After the Liberation Of Paris in August 1944, rinks reopened and du Bief returned, training at Boulogne Billancourt and the Molitor and Rue Nesnil ice rinks with coach Jacqueline Vaudecrane.

Click here to read the complete article


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 Did you know…….

Tommy Litz is credited as being the first skater to land the triple toe loop jump, a feat he accomplished at the 1964 World Figure Skating Championships.





 75th Diamond Jubilee 2015 Celebration

 To view archived information from the reunion,

including pictures, videos etc

click on 2015 Reunion tabs to the right


 Your 2015 Celebration Committee

Disclaimer:  The Ice Capades 75th ‘Escape to Las Vegas’ Celebration

is not affiliated with the current owners of Ice Capades and is being independently operated by a non profit group of alumni volunteers.