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Dorothy Hamill - Develops The Hamill Camel

ice skating singles skates

By the time Hamill was 12, she was winning major championships. When she was 12, she was the national ladies novice singles championship. Among the highlights of Hamill's program at the championship was her innovation in skating, the so-called "Hamill camel." It was a flying camel that went into a sit-spin. It was developed in 1969, while she was training with Gustave Lussi in Lake Placid, New York.

In 1970, Hamill moved up to juniors and won the Eastern junior singles title. She then competed in the U.S. ladies singles competition, and finished second. Her desire to train intensely (skating seven hours a day, six days a week) led her to drop out of school and receive her education from a tutor. Hamill later earned her high school equivalency degree. While her parents supported her skating and these kind of decisions, it was a financial burden and resulted in her mother traveling with her daughter, away from her husband. Though Hamill did well in competitions, she often suffered from stage fright.

Hamill won the Eastern sectional ladies singles title and finished seventh at the world championships in 1971. This led to another important coaching change. She met Carlo Fassi at the Pre-Olympic Invitational. He had also coached champion Peggy Fleming who won the gold medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics. Fassi invited her to begin training with him in Colorado.

Hamill's experiences in Colorado were positive. The high altitude improved her stamina. She also studied ballet and worked on her fitness. Fassi himself helped Hamill with compulsory figures—the aspect of competition that she struggled with the most. Hamill also began working with choreographer Bob Paul. Paul chorreographed routines that highlighted her athletic abilities, especially her jumps, and her Hamill camel.


1956 Born in Chicago, Illinois
c. 1964 Begins learning to skate
1969 Develops Hamill camel
1970 Drops out of school to focus on training
1976 Competes and wins in the Winter Olympics; retires from amateur figure skating; becomes professional figure skater
1976-78 Skates professionally with the Ice Capades
1982 Marries Dean Martin, Jr., on June 8
1983 Appears in television ice version of Romeo and Juliet, later winning an Emmy Award
1984 Divorces Dean Martin, Jr.
1987 Marries Kenneth Forsythe in March
1988 Gives birth to daughter Alexandra
1993 Purchases the Ice Capades
1994 Skates as Cinderella in the Ice Capades show Cinderella Frozen in Time ; sells Ice Capades to International Entertainment, Inc.; briefly retires as professional skater
1995 Skates in the Legends of Figure Skating
1996 Skates in the Hershey's Kisses Figure Skating Challenge; files for bankruptcy
2000 Skates in the first Winter Goodwill Games; skates with Champions on Ice

The results were positive. In 1973, Hamill finished fourth in the world ladies singles championships. In 1974 and 1975, Hamill won the U.S. championship for ladies senior singles. Her second victory was impressive, in part because she had an injured foot but still pulled out the win. Hamill still had problems with sensitivity, however. At the 1974 World Championships, she heard boos from the crowd as she was warming up for her free skate. Hamill left the ice crying, believing the booing was directed at her. However, the crowd was actually booing the judges for the previous competitors scores. After she was reassured about the situation, she skated well. She won the silver medal.

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