An Olympic Champion and Emmy Award winner will be in my very own backyard (Westport, that is.) How much better can it get? The skating icon Dick Button will be appearing at the Westport Library to read from and discuss his new book, Push Dick’s Button! As an author myself – and a former regional & sectional figure skating champion – I’d like to think we have some things in common. (Heck, he’s a gardener, too!) Hopefully, that will serve me well, as I was honored to be asked to be the host during his appearance here on Sunday.
If you’re not familiar with this legend of the skating world, let me fill you in. At the 1948 Olympics, he was the first skater to ever land a double axel. In 1952 he followed that by landing the first triple jump of any kind during an Olympic performance. (It was a triple loop, by the way.) Twice an Olympic champion, and to top it all, he was the first American ever to win an Olympic medal for figure skating! Nowadays we take for granted the idea that skating athletes are household names in the US; I truly think we have Dick to thank for that. When I was growing up and a young skater, his influence was so widespread that if you could perform a double axel and triple loop it was known as “being Dick ready.” Therefore, there wasn’t a day during practice season that the double axel and the various triples weren’t addressed and worked on.
After his years of competing, Dick became the most well-regarded commentator on American networks for all the big skating events. Because of his authority, exacting eye and sometimes brutal honesty, his presence was felt in every skating club–he didn’t have to be there to have an impact. I know I always “heard” Dick’s voice in my mind when I was practicing and competing: “Uh-oh, Dick wouldn’t like that very much,” or, “I think even Dick would have to say that was pretty great!” And I can tell you I wasn’t the only skater who felt that way.
Dick’s place in the world of skating will be a difficult one for anyone else to top. His dedicated admirers, like myself, appreciate him for his many contributions to skating, too many to list here. Thankfully Dick has written all of it down.
Which brings me to this Sunday: I have the delightful pleasure to host both Dick’s lecture and Q&A about his new book. Titled Push Dick’s Button, he includes a sub-line which reads “Conversations on Skating from a Good Part of the Last Century – and a Little Tomfoolery.” If you join the crowd, you’ll hear from the man called the “Voice of Figure Skating” about the art and sport of skating, as well as personal insights and stories about other figure skating greats.
So come one, come all for this delightful afternoon. You’ll see this legendary figure in the world of sports, hear some great stories, and walk away with Dick’s new book- – like a triple axel for skating fans, it will be an experience of a lifetime.
See you there!