Friday, March 11, 2011
Vintage Video: Laurence Owen
Laurence (pronounced /lɔr'ɔːns/) Owen was born in Oakland and for the first eight years grew up in Berkeley, California. She was the second child of Guy Owen and Maribel Vinson and the younger sister of Maribel Owen. In 1952, shortly after the death of her father, her mother moved back to her girlhood home at 195 High Street in Winchester, Massachusetts with Laurie and her sister Maribel. Laurie went to Winchester Junior High School and then attended Winchester High School where she was an honor student and participated in several sports.
In 1956, Laurie won the Eastern Junior Ladies title and was unable to participate in the United States Championships that year because of a broken wrist. In 1958, she placed 3rd in the United States Figure Skating Championship Junior Ladies Division. In 1959, Laurie won the United States Figure Skating Championship Junior Ladies Division.
In January 1960, Laurie placed 3rd in the 1960 United States Figure Skating Championships and qualified for the 1960 Winter Olympics where she placed 6th. Her mother, the 1932 Winter Olympics Bronze Medalist and nine times US Singles Champion Maribel Vinson-Owen was her coach.
On January 29, 1961, Laurie won the 1961 United States Figure Skating Championships in Colorado Springs and won the 1961 North American Figure Skating Championships on February 12, 1961 in Philadelphia. After her victory at the US Nationals, she became a media sensation and was nicknamed "The Winchester Pixie". On February 13, 1961 she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine with a feature story that called her "America's most exciting girl skater."
On January 28, 2011 Laurence Owen was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame along with the entire 1961 World Team. Her sister Maribel Owen also was inducted and her mother Maribel Vinson Owen was inducted for a third time in 2011; in her capacity as a 1961 World Team Coach. Previously, her mother has been inducted in the inaugural Class of 1976 as a singles skater and for a second time in 1994 as a pairs skater.
On February 17, 2011 the U.S. Figure Skating Association released the documentary film entitled "Rise 1961". The movie chronicled the relationship between Laurence and her mother, the tragedy in the skies over Belgium and the rebirth of the United States Figure Skating Team from the ashes of Sabena Flight 548.