October 22, 2007

Manic Monday: Frost

Morgan chose the word Frost for this week's Manic Monday meme. The word reminded me of Winter ... and that thought took me to winter sports.

The costs for entering other winter sports, including ice-skating, speed-skating, skiing, and sled-type racing (luge, skeleton, bobsled) and winter sports' lack of traditional cultural resonance with many African Americans has kept many Blacks from participating until recently.

Mabel Fairbanks, a talented skater-performer from the 1940s, was unable to join professional ice skating clubs, yet she eventually became a top ice-skating coach. Her students included gold medalists Scott Hamilton and Christi Yamaguchi and 1980 Olympic pairs skaters Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia (she of African American ancestry). In 1997 Mabel Fairbanks was the first African American coach inducted in the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Atoy Wilson was the first African American man to win a national figure skating title in the men's novice category of the U.S. National Championships. He also competed in the men's juniors in Philadelphia in 1968.

In 1979 Bobby Beauchamp was the first African American man to win a silver medal in international skating competition at the world junior championship in Augsburg, West Germany.

In 1986, figure skater Debi Thomas became the first African American woman to win the U.S. and World championships; she subsequently won a bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics. I remember rooting for Debi Thomas to win the gold medal in 1988. Like many Americans, we were disappointed when she only took third place in the competition. However,Debi had her priorities straight ... she later obtained her medical degree from Stanford University.

Willie Davenport (a summer games hurdler) and Jeff Gadley (a summer games decathlete) were the first African American men to participate in the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, NY. They competed as a four-man bobsled team. Davenport and Gadley opened the door for other African American athletes cross-training from football, roller-skating, sprinting and other summer sports have become increasingly successful in winter sports.

The 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, provided breakthroughs, as Vonetta Flowers won gold on the 2-woman bobsled, followed by Randy Jones, Garret Hines, and Bill Schuffenhauer, who gold-medaled on the four-man bobsled. Further, Shani Davis became the first African American Olympic speedskater, participating in the 1,000 meter short track event.

However, because of the limited financial and career opportunities in most winter sports, they do not attract top African American athletic talent. I hope that you have enjoyed my take on the Frost word in this week's Manic Monday meme!

20 comments:

Stine said...

Thanks for visiting both my entries! The Winter Olympics is a big thing in this country, and winter sports is a money machine here... Much more so than Summer sports. A question of tradition and culture - certainly.

ian said...

Was Willie Davenport who they made the movie Cool Runnings about?

Ian

Villager said...

Ian - No. Cool Runnings was about a team from Jamaica (not USA). It was a great movie though...

frenchkys said...

I've never even seen/touched real snow! What a loser, huh.

I guess that decreases my chances of ever getting frostbite, that's a positive.

Great MM post; very informative and entertaining indeed. Cheers!

Gattina said...

Very interesting ! but it's well known that African Americans are far better in sports than the white once, lol !

the teach said...

Great post, Villager! I always learn so much! Happy MM!

Come visit my posts: maryt.wordpress.com
workofthepoet.blogspot.com

Lizza said...

Thanks for the information on these great athletes. Let's hope more financial and career opportunities open up for people who want to participate in winter sports.

Happy MM!

Woozie said...

You forgot the Jamaican Bobsled team.

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist :)

tegdirb92 said...

what a great take on the theme. The Olympics never crossed my mind for this week but I think it should have--they are quickly approaching. I can't wait for the Beijing Olympics. I was there last year and they are really putting a lot of work in to fix up the city!! Have a great Monday.

Villager said...

Frenchkys - I've learned that snow is OK as long as it doesn't accumulate to the point that you have to shovel the driveway!

Tegdirb92 - We may find ourselves boycotting the Bejing Olympics if things don't improve in Darfur.

crazy working mom said...

Very good job! I always love your informative MM posts.

It reminded me a bit of Cool Runnings...it was a great movie, even though it was about a Jamaican team.

katherine. said...

good info to know. I always look forward to your spin on Manic Mondays! Enjoy the week.

Harlekwin said...

Great post!

I was particularly interested in your mention of Willie Davenport and Jeff Gadley using winter sports as a means of cross training. My former husband was an avid cyclist. He was able to improve his skills and keep his conditioning through the winter months by cross training. He would run, ski and rollerblade. It's important for athletes to do other things to improve their abilities.

Thank you for your visit today. I really enjoyed reading your post.

ps~ I second your concerns about Beijing and Darfur. I also wonder how the Chinese gov't is going to make the air breathable for all the athletes.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Very well done as always. Have a great MM. :)

beurre d'arachide - peanut butter said...

very interesting. i never thought about this topic like that. =]

Villager said...

Peanut Butter - Ordinarily, I try to place an afrocentric flair on Manic Monday. It makes it interesting for my readers that are not regular MM meme visitors. Anyhow, thank you for visiting our village today.

Harlekwin - If you could see me on this side of the computer screen then you would know better than to ask me about training or staying in shape! (smile)

Jamie said...

I'm not absolutely sure, but I think there is now a one legged, downhill skier who is black.

The people you have highlighted show the courage and hard work it takes to reach the heights of sport.

Travis said...

I remember Debi Thomas. Great topic.

Happy MM!

Imma (Alice) at I Was Born2Cree8 said...

Very interesting information, Villager. I never knew any of this.

Reba said...

Woofenderful post. I'm glad I'm a dog cuz dog's don't judge each other like hoomans do. We don't care what color we each are or if they are fat or skinny, or other stuff like that. Seems to me like dogs are smarter than hoomans in some ways.