Vernon’s historic Civic Arena twice played host to figure skating royalty.
In 1949, a capacity crowd was mesmerized by Canada’s sweetheart, Barbara Ann Scott, who won Olympic gold in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1948. She remains the only Canadian figure skater to win gold in Olympic Women’s Singles.
Scott, from the Ottawa area, was a four-time Canadian champion (1944, 1945, 1946, 1948) and a two-time World champion (‘47, ‘48). She was the first North American to have won three major titles in one year, and the only Canadian to have won the European championship (1947-48).
In the 1990s, the Civic again drew capacity crowds who came to see the greatest pairs skating team in the world at the time, Russia’s Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov.
“G and G,” as they were known, won the 1988 and 1994 Olympic championships, and the pair won four World titles (1986, 1987, 1989, 1990) before Grinkov died of a massive heart attack in 1995 at the age of 28.
Gordeeva returned to Vernon and performed at Kal Tire Place in 2016 with the Holiday on Ice Festival, a fundraiser for North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society.
The main attraction that night was four-time World figure skating men’s champion Kurt Browning of Alberta.