Hans Muller – The Ice Skating Legend

Hans Muller was, and still remains to be, one of the best ice skaters the world has ever known. The 1947 result was due to the superb school skating of Hans who not only then, and until he turned professional after the 1948 Olympics, was the best man school-skater in the world, but I think even now still qualifies for that distinction. Hans was also a first-rate free skater, but when it came to competitions, so early after the war, when all young British athletes as well as those who had elected to stay here, were still suffering from nervous strain especially those who had remained in London as Hans had done as well as from the malnutrition inevitable amongst those who did not come into the category of workers, he was not able to reproduce his true form under the tense excitement of a European or World Championship.

Those, however, who were lucky enough to have seen his exhibitions given at hockey matches and other such light-hearted occasions realise what a beautiful performer he was. This was the position when once more into the arena of the 1948 European, World and Winter Olympic Games leapt a new Richard Button, who, together with his trainer Gustav Lussi, had seen and noted all that there was to be learnt in Europe concerning the school figures. The result was the unconquerable Dick, winner of the European in 1948 (before the rule confining it to Europeans came in), five World and two Olympic titles. This was the man who captured the imagination of all by the athleticism and sheer strength of his skating as well as by the very exuberance of his personality. He set a new fashion in the free, one which has now become part of the scheme of things, for a free programme without double and even triple jumps, without combinations of jumps and spins, on the lines first skated by this great American, would certainly be regarded as absurdly easy in any major competition.

I must make one statement here, however, to the effect that Cecilia Colledge had accomplished the double Salchow and experimented with other double jumps before the war started. It must be remembered also that pre-war jumping was not as high as it is today not in the immediate years before the war and in consequence anything away from the ordinary did not catch the eye of the “experts”, those at whom Grafstrom and Schafer used to laugh, so what was the use of risking anything extra difficult in any important competition when it would most probably pass by unnoted?

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