Ice skater Barbara Ann Scott makes her school figures with perfect loops and whorls as she annexes the world championship in Stockholm.
Caption from LIFE. Ice skater Barbara Ann Scott makes her school figures with perfect loops and whorls as she annexes the world championship in Stockholm.Tony Linck—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Ice skater Barbara Ann Scott makes her school figures with perfect loops and whorls as she annexes the world championship in Stockholm.
Five judges were from England, Denmark, U.S., Czechoslovakia and Switzerland. They wear numbers for identification. Upraised numbers signify points awarded each performance. They were accused of inexperience.
New pair skaters at contest were Kennedy kids, Michael, 19 and Karol, 14, who came from Seattle, Wash. Despite their youth they won second place.
Uncrowned champion of the men skaters was 17-year-old Richard Button of Englewood, N.J. He led in points but judges voted 3 to 2 for Swiss contestant.
Gretchen Merrill, U.S. champion, was Miss Scott's only serious rival for world title. She spoiled her chances on last day by falling down, won third place.
Split jump was part of Button's flashy routine, which thrilled pro-American spectators, but only bewildered judges. Swedish press considered him the best.
World Figure Skating Championship in Stockholm, Sweden, 1947.
World Figure Skating Championship in Stockholm, Sweden, 1947.
World Figure Skating Championship in Stockholm, Sweden, 1947.
World Figure Skating Championship in Stockholm, Sweden, 1947.
Miss Scott hurtles high into air in a flawless execution of difficult figure called a stag jump.
The women's finals, in which Miss. Scott (above) clinched her title, were held at night. The stadium was filled that night, but day attendance was slim. Standing room sold for about $1.10, which Sweden considered high.
Barbara gets kissed by Richard Button after her victory. Good-luck piece is still around her neck.
Barbara Ann Scott with flowers at the World Figure Skating Championship in Stockholm, Sweden, 1947.
Caption from LIFE. Ice skater Barbara Ann Scott makes her school figures with perfect loops and whorls as she annexes th
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Tony Linck—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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On the Ice With the Skaters Who Brought Back the World Figure Skating Championships

Mar 23, 2015

As skates are sharpened and sequins sewn in place at the World Figure Skating Championships in Shanghai this week, fans pin their hopes on favorites. Americans Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold face stiff competition from Russians Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Elena Radionova, while the men’s race is a toss-up between Spain, Japan and Kazakhstan.

Back in 1947, the energy on the ice was nearly unprecedented, as the championships had been suspended since the winter of 1939, before the start of World War II. Though the event featured men, women and pairs from 12 nations, all eyes were on 18-year-old Canadian Barbara Ann Scott. “The finest woman figure skater in the world,” LIFE wrote, was equally as lovely to look at as she was graceful on the ice.

Racking up the highest score in history across her 12 events, Scott was “visibly affected when the enthusiastic Swedes mobbed her for autographs and when Canada’s Prime Minister Mackenzie King cabled his congratulations, which arrived while she was eating a bowl of corn flakes.”

Scott’s only lament was that eight hours a day at the rink left little time for boyfriends. “After winning the 1948 Olympics,” LIFE wrote, she intends to do something about that: study domestic science.” True to her word, she took Olympic gold in Switzerland and married seven years later.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

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