Click the play button above to listen to figure skater Jim Millns talk about shaking off an embarrassing start in pairs skating to become an Olympic bronze medalist.

Pat and Jim Millns


Jim Millns got started in skating a bit later than most. He was 12 years old and with both his parents working, Millns went to spend Christmas break at his grandmother’s house.

“She had to go to the Toledo Sports Arena to skate with her little old lady friends,” Millns said. “I groaned and moaned because I wanted to play with my friends, not watch a bunch of little old ladies.”

But as Millns sat in the stands that day, he was captivated by another skater, who kept performing jumps and other maneuvers on the ice and eventually saw Millns standing out in the crowd and asked him to come skate as well.

Thus started a skating career that was capped by teaming with Colleen O’Connor to win the bronze medal in ice dancing at the Innsbruck 1976 Olympic Winter Games.

In a conversation with his wife, Pat, Jim Millns recalled several other moments from his skating career, including the first time he tried to throw a partner for a jump and ended up ripping off her shirt. The girl screamed as she fled the ice and Millns swore off skating and ever partnering again with a girl.

“That didn’t ruin me for life, but that sure was embarrassing,” Millns said.

Listen to Millns discuss his career in skating, including how children always notice their parents watching from the sidelines and more.


A Native American from tiny Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Billy Mills surged down the stretch to win the 10,000-meter run at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games, one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history.
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