Eva Pawlik (October 4, 1927 in Vienna – July 31, 1983 in Vienna) was an Austrian figure skater (European Champion, Olympic Silver medalist), a show star, an actress and the first female Sportscaster in the German speaking countries.
Born in 1927, Pawlik was regarded as a child prodigy, able to skate a single axel and do a large number of spins at the age of four. In her teens she would get up at four a.m. daily to run to the Vienna ice rink (Wiener Eislaufverein), for practice before going to school. Austrian skaters were impeded in the 1930s and 40s by the fact that there were no indoor skating halls and they were restricted to practicing in winter.
Nazi Germany's absorption of Austria in 1938 and World War II destroyed sportsmen's lives and careers. Pawlik, for example, was due to compete (aged 12) in the singles, in the 1940 Winter Olympics, and in the pairs with her later husband Rudi Seeliger. However, they could only take part in domestic competitions, becoming German youth champions, both individually and as a couple. Drafted into the German Army, Rudi Seeliger was captured by the Red Army and had to work as a coal-miner until his return to Austria in 1949.
Silver Medal at the 1948 Olympics Edit
In 1947, Pawlik was rated best European skater and number 2 in the world. This did not help, as Austrian skaters were barred from entering European and World competitions (a throwback to the war). In 1948 she won 3 silver medals, at the Europeans, at the Olympics and at the World's. She lost the European title to the non-European Barbara Ann Scott from Canada.
Starring in the Broadmoor Ice Revue in Colorado Springs Edit
In 1948 Pawlik did a lot of exhibition skating in the United States. In the Broadmoor Ice Revue, produced by Edi Scholdan in Colorado Springs, she appeared together with U.S. Champion Gretchen Merrill in 1948. She was also asked to appear in a movie starring Gene Kelly. He wanted to combine his dancing with her skating. She declined, turning professional would have excluded her from the 1949 championships.
1949 European Champion before the same year's World Champion Edit
In 1949, despite suffering acute appendicitis, Pawlik beat her rival Aja Zanova in Milan to become European Champion. At the World Championships held in Paris, Pawlik was a close second behind Zanova when one of the heels on her skates broke. Sabotage was suspected, but never proved. The judges did not allow her to continue with borrowed skates and Zanova went on to win. Though having good chances to win the World title one year later, Pawlik decided to turn professional because her parents needed financial support.
Professional Career Edit
She joined the Vienna Ice Revue and performed a program that was considered by many journalists and figure skating experts to be technically and artistically superior to anything produced by World Champion Vrzáňová. Pawlik also played major parts in the productions of two movies featuring the Revue, Spring On The Ice (Frühling auf dem Eis), 1950, and Revue Of Dreams (Traumrevue), 1959. The first is said to have inspired the later double Olympic champion, Ludmilla Belousova, to take up skating.
Morris Chalfen, the boss of the competitor enterprise Holiday On Ice, considered Pawlik Europe's best show star on the ice since the three-time Olympic Champion Sonja Henie. Besides, she and her husband Rudi Seeliger who had won the Austrian title in the 1950 pairs event had become one of the world's best professional couples on the ice. They left the Vienna Ice Revue in 1954 and starred in Hanns Thelen's Scala Eisrevue for some years. In 1958, they returned to the Vienna Ice Revue.
In 1961, Pawlik retired from skating and became the first female sportscaster in the German speaking countries. She commentated all European and World Championships in figure skating and the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games for the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF).
In 1973 she began her third profession as a teacher of German and English at a Viennese secondary school (pupils from 10 to 18). In 1954 she had earned her doctorate in German and English at the University of Vienna. In 1979 Pawlik became severely ill and died in 1983, four months after her husband.
Exhibition in ViennaEdit
The exhibition "The Vienna Ice Revue. Austria's ambassador of the past" was taking place in the Bezirksmuseum Wien-Meidling from January to March 2008. For details click on "Exhibition" on the list of links on the Eva Pawlik Fanpage.
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