Mrs. Fraser, Dick Button Pace Yanks
By Ted Smits
Friday, February 6, 1948; Page B5
It was an historic day for the Red, White and Blue from the moment Mrs. Gretchen Fraser, the flying housewife from Vancouver, Wash., flashed across first in the women's special slalom until Dick Button of Englwood, N.J., won the men's figure skating as the sun set over the snowclad Alps.
Their triumphs were the first ever scored by Americans either in skiing or figure skating since the winter Olympics were born in 1924.
Possibly the day's most dramatic moment came as Hans Gerschwiler of Switzerland, the world's figure skating champion, was trying desperately to overcome the lead Button had taken over him on Monday in compulsory figures. In the midst of a graceful, original maneuver, the Swiss star slipped, his skates flew up and he fell. At that instant the 18-year-old Button became the Olympic champion.
The pretty, shy Mrs. Fraser was the first of 31 girls to plummet down the zigzag slalom course in the cold early morning, and she through an additional chill into her rivals by making her first run in 59.7 seconds. The nearest any girl came to equaling it was Erika Mahringer of Austria one-tenth of a second slower.
Mrs. Fraser All Alone
Two of Button's American teammates, 18-year-old John Lettingarver of St. Paul, Minn., and James Grogan, 16, of Oakland, Calif., turned in figure skating performances good enough to place them "in the points" under the Associated Press unofficial scoring system.
Lettingarver gained fourth place. Grogan placed sixth.
The Amateur Hockey Association team representing the United States in the unofficial ice hockey tournament caught a sound 12-to-3 thrashing from Canada its second defeat of the tournament and was virtually eliminated.
This morning the women's school figures were completed, and Barbara Ann Scott of Canada, the world champion, took a strong lead over the field to bring her close to the crown won in 1936 by Sonia Henie.
Barbara Ann made 858.1 points to 842.1 for Jeannette Altwegg of Great Britain, in second place. Gretchen Merrill of Boston, the American champion, placed highest of the United States contingent sixth place, with 798 points.
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