|Intro||Figure skater, actress, commentator|
|Was||Actor Journalist Figure skater|
|Field||Film, TV, Stage & Radio Journalism Sports|
|Birth||4 October 1927, Vienna|
|Death||31 July 1983, Vienna (aged 55 years)|
Eva Pawlik (4 October 1927 in Vienna – 31 July 1983 in Vienna) was an Austrian figure skater (European Champion, Olympic silver medalist), a show star, an actress and the first European figure skater to be a TV figure skating commentator (sportscaster on TV).
Born in 1927, Pawlik was regarded as a child prodigy, able to jump a single axel and do a large number of spins at the age of four. Before WW II, she was considered an "exceptionally promising 9-year-old Viennese" figure skater in the United States. In Europe, she was starring in "The Fairy Tale Of The Steady Tin Soldier" together with World Champion Felix Kaspar. This legendary vaudeville number was internationally highly successful, being performed in Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Munich, Bern, Amsterdam, Brussels, Lyon, Paris and London. Pawlik was called the "Shirley Temple on ice". In her teens she would get up at 4 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. In addition to that, they became the 1942 Austrian Pairs Champions (that were called Ostmark Champions at that time due to the fact that Austria did not exist from 1938 to 1945). Drafted into the German Army, Rudi Seeliger was captured by the Red Army and had to work as a slave coal-miner until his return to Austria in 1949.
Silver Medal at the 1948 Olympics
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 European's, at the Olympics and at the World's. In Sandra Stevenson´s opinion it was "not surprising that North Americans, whose skating activities had not been interrupted" during World War II, "should do well when the sport resumed in 1947. When Eva Pawlik of Austria unsuccessfully challenged Barbara Ann Scott in 1948 one reason given for her failure was that she skated with dirty boots and holes in her tights. The boots were so old that they no longer responded to cleaning and the holes were darned. It was the best she could manage with all the shortages in her country."
It is remarkable that at the 1948 European's Eva Pawlik was the best ranked European lady figure skater. Nevertheless, she only got the silver medal because the title was awarded to the non-European Barbara Ann Scott from Canada. That was unusual because, in many sports, European championships are restricted to European competitors. Pawlik´s coaches included the 1914 World Silver Medalist Angela Hanka, World Champion Gustav Hügel, Rudolf Kutzer and Edi Scholdan.
Starring in the Broadmoor Ice Revue in Colorado Springs
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
In 1949, despite suffering acute appendicitis, Pawlik beat her rival Aja Zanova in Milan to become European Champion. In the World Championships held in Paris, Pawlik was lying a close second behind Zanova when one of the heels on her skates broke. Sabotage was suspected, but never proven. 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.
Outstanding career as a professional skater: "Europe's best show star on the ice"
She joined the Vienna Ice Revue and performed a program that was considered by some journalists and figure skating experts to be technically and artistically slightly superior to the free skating of 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.
In 1952, Robert Stolz dedicated his first Ice Operetta, Eternal Eve (Die ewige Eva), to Eva Pawlik. Morris Chalfen, the boss of the competitor enterprise Holiday On Ice, considered Pawlik Europe's best show star on the ice since the thrice Olympic Champion Sonja Henie. Besides, Eva Pawlik and her husband Rudi Seeliger who had won the Austrian title in the 1950 pairs event (together with a different partner as Pawlik had already turned professional in 1950) 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.
|1937||Sunny Youth (Sonnige Jugend)||Herself (actress and skater)|
|1950||Spring on Ice (Frühling auf dem Eis)||Eva (actress and skater)|
|1959||Revue Of Dreams (Traumrevue)||Ilona Karoly (actress and skater)|
|1962||Three Love Letters From The Tyrol (Drei Liebesbriefe aus Tirol)||Skater|
In 1961, Pawlik retired from skating and became the first European figure skater to be a TV figure skating commentator. 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 Vienna
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.
|Austrian Championships||1st pairs||1st||1st||1st||1st|
- Eva Pawlik, Autobiographical article in: Als ich 19 war (When I was 19 years old). Jugend&Volk 1981
- Roman Seeliger, Die Wiener Eisrevue. Ein verklungener Traum (The Vienna Ice Revue. A Dream That Has Faded Away). Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky 1993
- Roman Seeliger, Die Wiener Eisrevue. Einst Botschafterin Österreichs - heute Legende (The Vienna Ice Revue. Austria´s Ambassador Of The Past - Today´s Legend). Bezirksmuseum Wien-Meidling, 2008
- Ingrid Wendl, Eis mit Stil (Ice In A Proper Style). Jugend&Volk 1979
- Ingrid Wendl, Mein großer Bogen (My Great Arch). Böhlau 2002
- Isabella Lechner, Wienerinnen, die lesen, sind gefährlich (Viennese Women That Read Are Dangerous). Chapter "Eva Pawlik". Elisabeth Sandmann, Munich 2012
- Isabella Lechner, Die Wiener Eisrevue (The Vienna Ice Revue). Diploma thesis, University of Vienna, 2008