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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Hamill wins gold, sets trends
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

February 13, 1976

Before Dorothy Hamill takes to the ice for her freestyle routine at the Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, she starts crying after seeing a sign in the stands that says, "Dorothy, wicked witch of the West."

At first, she thinks the sign is held by detractors. But then she realizes it's made by her friends, who want to shake her out of her usual pre-competition jitters. The move works. A relaxed Hamill, a three-time U.S. champion, gives a brilliant performance and wins the gold medal.

At the medals ceremony, the 19-year-old Hamill cries again. "I couldn't help it," she says. "It wasn't because I had finally won the medal. It was seeing the American flag go up and hearing the band play, 'The Star Spangled Banner.'"

Hamill will set a fashion trend as young girls will copy her hairstyle, which looks like a bowl cut. She also will become the first female athlete to sign a $1 million-a-year contract, with the Ice Capades, which she will later purchase and manage.

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