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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

KAREN MAGNUSSEN

Inducted in 1973

Member Details

Date of Birth: April 4, 1952
Place of Birth: North Vancouver, British Columbia
Sport: Figure skating
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1965, 1968 , 1970, 1971, 1972 & 1973

Canadian figure skating championship

1971

North American figure skating championship

1972

Olympic Games, women's figure skating, silver medal

1973
World figure skating championships, gold medal
1972, 1973

Velma Springstead Award, Canada's outstanding female athlete

1973

Bobbie Rosenfeld Award

1965

Canadian junior figure skating championship

Honoured Member KAREN MAGNUSSEN
Inspire

Story


Karen Magnussen always dreamed of being a figure skater, but she had to overcome a debilitating injury to join the ranks of Canada's greatest women's champions. Born and raised in Vancouver, her first public skating appearance came at age six. Magnussen first achieved national recognition by winning the Canadian junior championship in 1965 and finishing fourth at the senior championships a year later. In her first world championship in 1967, she gained valuable experience while finishing twelfth. Magnussen's breakthrough came in 1968, following the retirement of the Petra Burka, when she captured the first of her five Canadian championships. She finished seventh that year in women's figure skating at the Winter Olympics in Grenoble. In 1969, Magnussen's rise to the top of her sport was interrupted - and her perseverance sorely tried. She finished second in both the Canadian and North American championships. Even worse, as she prepared for the world championships in Colorado Springs, Magnussen experienced terrible leg pains. She was diagnosed with stress fractures in both legs. She spent the next three months with her legs in casts and coping with predictions that her skating career was over. Magnussen refused to listen and embarked on a remarkable comeback. Only a year later, in 1970, she captured what would be the first of four straight Canadian championships. In 1971, Magnussen won the North American championship and her first world championship medal, a bronze. She represented Canada at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics, winning a silver medal, the same colour that she brought home from that year's world championships in Calgary. She headed to the 1973 world championships in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, one of the favourites along with American Janet Lynn. On the verge of her 21st birthday, Magnussen put on a dazzling artistic display where "the spirit of art was free to flourish," as one English journalist noted at the time, and became the third Canadian woman to be crowned world figure skating champion. She capped 1973 by being awarded the Bobbie Rosenfeld and Velma Springstead Awards, both given to the year's best Canadian female athlete, and was named an officer of the Order of Canada. Magnussen ended her international amateur career after her world championship, and until 1977 skated professionally with the Ice Capades. Upon retiring from skating she moved to Boston to begin coaching young skaters, which she continued to do after returning to North Vancouver. Magnussen has been coaching for over 25 years and along with the Karen Magnussen Foundation, which provides funding to young skaters, has made a second career out of giving back to the figure skating community.


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