Vivi-Anne Hulten

Swedish ice skater who attracted the attentions of the future Sir Peter Scott

Vivi-Anne Hulten, ice skater: born 25 August 1911; married 1942 Gene Thesloff (one son); died Newport Beach, California 15 January 2003.

Vivi-Anne Hulten of Sweden was one of many Scandinavians who dominated ice figure skating in the early part of the 20th century. Her compatriots Ulrich Salchow and Gillis Grasström won between them every Olympic gold medal in men's singles from 1908 to 1928, as well as numerous world championships. Walter and Ludovika Jakobsson of Finland predominated in pair skating.

In the women's singles events the Norwegian Sonja Henie was supreme, winning three Olympic titles and 10 world championships. One of Henie's chief rivals, but one who never defeated her, was Vivi-Anne Hulten. Hulten later said, "I was a dancer. Sonja was an acrobat." She was known in her heyday as "The Flame of Sweden".

Born in 1911, Hulten was taught by Gillis Grasström's brother, and in 1930, aged 19, she competed in her first European championship. She gained the bronze medal.

At about this time she attracted the attention of a young Englishman who was himself no mean skater. He later became famous as Sir Peter Scott, artist, ornithologist and yachtsman. In his 1961 book The Eye of the Wind he wrote of

a new princess working quietly at Rockers in mid ice-rink. It did not take me long to discover that she was the champion skater of her own Scandinavian country. My little champion knew how to move, how to dance, she also knew how to draw. And she was delightfully pretty.

So long afterwards, I find it difficult to assess this romance of 30 years ago, but it was something gentle and tender and altogether happy. I discovered real humility for perhaps the first time. I simply was not good enough for her.

Scott did not name her in his autobiography, and in the 1990s another skater was suggested as a claimant. But Hulten telephoned me from her home in America and confirmed that it was indeed she who cherished similar fond memories of that relationship.

Scott was sufficiently impressed to follow her to Berlin in 1931, when she was placed fifth in her first world championship. Henie, in her memoirs, Wings On My Feet (1941), wrote of Hulten as "Sweden's rising national champion who by 1931 was already crowding the line". Nineteen thirty-two was an Olympic year and in the Winter Games at Lake Placid, the Swede came fifth. Her best year was 1933, when she beat every other skater except Henie, to take the silver medal in the world championship on home ice in Stockholm.

She continued to compete at a high level for the next four years, but she was unable to hold off the challenge of two teenage English girls, Megan Taylor and Cecilia Colledge. Third place became more usual for her, and sometimes she was down to fourth or fifth in the world.

In the Garmisch Olympics of 1936 it was Colledge who took silver medal and the Swedish champion had to be content with the bronze. Hulten's last chance came in 1937 when Henie had left the scene – but in that year's world championship the two Britons triumphed and Hulten finished third.

She then turned professional and, after appearing in the Blackpool summer ice show in 1938, she emigrated to the United States, where she took various teaching appointments. In 1942 she married a former weightlifter of Finnish extraction, Gene Thesloff, who had been Henie's ice-show partner. In 1949 husband and wife appeared together in Ice Capades and five years later they skated in Raymonde Du Bief's show Paris sur Glace. Hulten's last appearance, aged 81, was at a special Ice Capades show in 1993.

Vivi-Anne Hulten is perhaps best summed up in the words of Peter Scott:

She was quite different from the majority of the girl skaters. She did not have the thick muscular legs on the Axel Paulson-jumping girls, nor did she fill her free skating with ever faster scratch spins. She was not so much an athlete as a dancer, not a sportswoman but an artist. Her free skating had more artistry in it than all the others put together.

Dennis Bird

News
people And here is why...
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all failed
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

LSA Level 3 required in Caerphilly

£50 - £60 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: O...

Welsh Year 6 Teacher required in Barry

£100 - £110 per day + Plus travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Welsh Teacher Year 2 required in Caerphilly

£100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?