Hall of fame honours for figure skaters Strong, Knight

Hamilton’s Marijane Strong and Donald Knight of Dundas will be inducted into Skate Canada’s Hall of Fame.

They will be honoured along with the late Jim Proudfoot and George Gross. Knight will be inducted into the athlete category, Strong into the professional category as a coach while Proudfoot and Gross will be inducted into the builder category as sport journalists.

Knight won bronze medals at the 1965 World Championships and at the 1965 North American Championships before claiming gold two years later at the 1967 North American Championships. He also captured three Canadian titles (1965 to 1967) after being crowned national junior champion in 1961. He competed in the Olympic Winter Games in 1964 where he placed ninth.

His coaches were Ellen Burka, Dennis Silverthorne and Sheldon Galbraith. He attended his first World Championships when he was 13 years old and left amateur skating at 19.

After his professional days with Holiday on Ice and the Ice Capades, Knight teamed up with Wally Thompson in 1994 to become co-owners and operators of three Pizza Delights in Southern Ontario. Knight, now 60 years old, is married to Janet. They have two children and two grandchildren. He is currently coaching at the Burlington Skating Centre.

Strong is a level 4 certified coach and is best known for coaching the 1988 Olympic bronze medalist ice dance team of Tracy Wilson and Rob McCall. Wilson and McCall also won three world bronze medals (1986 to 1998) and three national titles with Strong. She also coached other world ice dance teams including Lorna Wighton and John Dowding and Michelle McDonald and Martin Smith. In addition to ice dancers, Strong also worked with Olympians Kurt Browning, Josée Chouinard and Marie-Claude Savard-Gagnon and Luc Bradet. Strong received the Longines-Wittnauer Coaching Excellence Award from the Coaching Association of Canada in 1987 and 1988.

Strong, 66, and has been married to well known coach and Skate Canada’s Skating Development Advisor Louis Strong since 1963. They reside in Etobicoke and have a son. She also has been a Skate Canada National Coach Consultant since 1999.

Proudfoot, of Russell, Ont., was a well respected sport journalist who covered the 1955 Canadian figure skating championships for the Toronto Star as an intro to the sport. He attended his first international competitions in 1959 – the North American Championships and World Championships. He covered seven Olympic Winter Games for the Star in addition to six World Championships.

Proudfoot’s coverage helped move figure skating from the social pages and into the sports section. He received Skate Canada’s Award of Merit for a journalist who has made a contribution to figure skating in 1974. He was sports editor of the Star from 1970 to 1977 and was awarded a national newspaper award for sport writing in 1988. Proudfoot was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a writer in 1988 although his favourite sports were figure skating and horse racing. Proudfoot died in 2001.

After settling in Toronto in the 1950s, Gross, who passed away in March 2008, became a well known sport journalist. A fan and friend of figure skating, he covered the sport as a journalist in his native Czechslovakia before coming to Canada.

From 1959 to 1971 he covered many North American and World Championships. Gross was also a member of the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame Selection Committee from 1992-1996 and the author of the book Donald Jackson King of Blades. He helped found the Toronto Sun in 1977, eventually becoming its Sports Editor. He covered seven World Cup soccer tournaments, eight World Hockey Championships, 12 Olympic Games and 14 Wimbledon Tennis Championships. George Gross was inducted into the broadcasters’ section of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985 and received a Stanley Cup ring from the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1992. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 and named to the Olympic Order in 1994 as well as the Order of Ontario in 2003.

The date and locations of the inductions will be announced later.