An Unusual Talent: The Hellmut Seibt Story
Photo courtesy Bildarchiv Austria
|Photo courtesy Bildarchiv Austria|
Photos courtesy Bildarchiv Austria
From 1950 to 1952, Hellmut enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top. He won three Austrian titles, the European titles in 1951 and 1952, a bronze medal at the 1951 World Championships and a silver medal at the 1952 Olympic Games in Oslo, Norway.
Hugh Graham, Carlo Fassi, Hellmut Seibt and Donald Jacoby. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.
Hellmut's silver medal win in Oslo behind Dick Button would not have been possible without his strong result in the school figures. He was only fifth in free skating and actually had fewer points than bronze medallist Jimmy Grogan. He defeated him only by having one fewer ordinal placing... and not without controversy. Suzanne Morrow-Francis later alleged that her mother, who was Canada's team leader at the Games, was approached by an Austrian official who said that if the Canadian judge helped Hellmut win the silver, Suzanne would win the silver medal in the women's event. Suzanne and her mother refused to participate in the deal and informed Canadian judge Norman Gregory of the situation. He refused to act on their complaint unless a third-party witness was produced and nothing came of it. There's no denying that Hellmut was well-known as a specialist in school figures, but his free skating was said by some to be at times uninspired. At the 1952 European Championships in Vienna, which he won, Finnish judge Walter Jakobsson had him in a tie for sixth in the free skating with Carlo Fassi, who won the silver medal.
Dick Button and Hellmut Seibt. Photo courtesy Bildarchiv Austria.
The Seibt's moved to Düsseldorf in the early sixties, where Hellmut worked with Dagmar Lurz, Ralph Borghardt and Uschi Keszler. While in West Germany, he played an intregral role in organizing the 1964 World Championships in Dortmund. The Austrian power couple left West Germany in 1967 to coach the Italian national team in Milan. Under Hellmut's tutelage, Rita Trapanese rose through the ranks to medal at both the 1971 and 1972 European Championships in Zürich and Gothenburg.
Coming full circle, the Seibt's returned to Austria in the seventies, where Hellmut served as the coach of Austria's national team until his death on July 21, 1992 at the age of sixty three. After his death, the Hellmut Seibt Memorial was organized in his memory, originally as part of the European Criterium series. Past winners in various age categories and levels have included Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Keegan Messing, Clemens Jonas, Michal Březina, Miriam Ziegler, Denis Vasiljevs and Denis Ten. Though largely overlooked in comparison to his rivals at the time, Hellmut's contributions to figure skating in no less than three different nations were considerable.
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