Wilmington's champion Olympic speed skater, Jeanne Ashworth

Wilmington's champion Olympic speed skater, Jeanne Ashworth  (Courtesy photo)

This story about former Olympian Jeanne Ashworth appeared in the Town Crier's January 9th, 1964 issue. With it being the 57th anniversary, we thought we would share it again.

Jeanne Ashworth, the little girl who learned to skate on a pond that once stood where Avco is today, is now the fastest woman in the world, on skates, for the 500-meter distance.

Jeanne's record of 44.4 seconds for the 500-meters, made a week ago last Saturday at Colorado Springs, Colorado, broke the former record held by Inga Voronina of Russia by half a second.

Miss Voronina, who is personally known to Jeanne, set the record in 1961, in Alma Alta, in Russia.

Alma Alta has a rink where the ice is always polished as smooth as glass, according to Jeanne, and the skaters who use it, while called amateurs, are really fully paid employees of some factory who have nothing to do all year but skate.

Jeanne made her record on a mountain rink, where there are fierce gusts of wind, which blow fitfully, and often spoil attempts at records.

She was fortunate in that there was no gusts while she was establishing the new record, but winds caused the skaters trying for the 1,000 meter and up records to lose all chances.

One such gust of wind blew Jeanne's jacket half a mile into the woods, on the day she was making her bid for the world record.

Russian Skates

Jeanne is to receive a gift of a pair of Russian speed skates, she told the Town Crier, Saturday.

The skates she used when she broke the record were made in Russia, and had been sold to Jeanne by Helga Hasse, East German Speed Skater. They are, Jeanne said, slightly too large.

The Russian Speed Skating Association, hearing of this, has promised to send a pair of skates made especially to Jeanne's measurements.

Bunny Sheffield, Lake Placid Skating Coach, who went to Finland last summer as an American Olympic official to make arrangements for the coming Winter Olympics, was told that the skates would be made, and sent to Jeanne.

Commenting further on the Russian Skating, Jeanne said that it is the No. 1 winter sport, and that, unlike the United States, there are thousands of spectators at the Speed Skating matches.

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