Videos: Karen Magnussen, Figure Skating

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Well my mom’s a real avid athlete. At 81 she’s still playing three games of tennis a week and golfing and is very enthusiastic. And she skied and skated, you know on just a fun level, and one day brought me to the rink with a friend of hers and her daughter and before you knew it, we were off with the chairs at one end, and we were at the other end. And the funny thing about this story is that young girl and myself, her name’s Cathy Lee Irwin, who ended up training in Toronto, we were both on the Olympic team together.

When I was 11 years old I won the Junior National Title. I wasn’t supposed to win anything. But I had an extremely good performance, actually in Calgary, Alberta in 1965 and I gained 60 points from the compulsory figures to the free skating to end up winning the free skating which was the greatest amount of points that anyone had ever pulled up in a competition, other than Don Jackson, who was a world champion also.

1967 was my first year on the World Team, and it was in Vienna, Austria and it was very, very exciting to have broken through onto that scene. And then ever year after that I just kept moving up the ladder. And that was really the way that you came onto the scene in skating years ago. You really had to prove yourself for 6 or 7 years of working your way, chipping away every year and moving one more rung up the ladder until finally I was on the podium.

There was probably two times in my whole career where, I mean I skated well in a lot of competitions, but 2 times in my career where I felt this feeling of euphoria, where it felt like my skates never touched the ice, I was that well trained. And I think for an athlete those are very far and few between. You don’t have a lot of those performances. So I think even if you have one in your career, you’re pretty lucky. The World Championships in 1973 was beyond belief. I really felt like someone had me, was holding me up through the whole performance. It just went you know and that was because I was so well trained, I could do it in my sleep.

You know I’ve been so fortunate as an athlete to meet wonderful people – Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip, wonderful people who even today come up with tears in their eyes saying, “You know you were my reason for wanting to get my children involved in skating... my parents couldn’t afford me to skate but watching you and following your career was just such a joy for me.” And to me that’s really what the essence of sport is about.

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