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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Button scores American figure skating first
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com
February 5, 1948
At the Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Dick Button enters the freestyle skating event with a commanding lead earned in the compulsory figures and a reputation as the best freestyle skater in the world. The 18-year-old from Englewood, N.J., does not disappoint the capacity crowd in the Olympic Ice Center.
He does five leaps and spins that no other skater attempted, and makes everything look easy. At times, he seems to hang poised in the air. At others, he spins with such rapidity as to be only a blur. From the most exacting maneuvers he emerges with a big smile.
Button is rewarded with sensational scores, getting no lower than a 5.5 from any judge and even receiving a perfect 6.0 from one judge (an American). In easily defeating runner-up Hans Gerschwiler of Switzerland, the world champion, Button becomes the first American figure skater to win an Olympic gold medal.
Button will successfully defend his Olympic title in 1952.
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