To me "Frühling auf dem Eis" showing the Vienna Ice Revue that was world-famous once is not only a historical figure skating document. As the female main role is played by my mother, Eva Pawlik (who died in 1983), and as my father Rudi Seeliger (who also died in 1983) is also presented as a skater, the movie is from the personal point of view by far more valuable to me than to any other person in the world. For everyone interested in the my parents´ figure skating career (especially in my mother´s) I write the following words:
As the 1948 Olympic Champion Barbara Ann Scott had turned pro Eva Pawlik was celebrated as the world´s highest ranking female amateur skater in the summer of 1948. Pawlik did a lot of exhibition skating in the US, where she was also asked to be the lead actress in a Hollywood movie by Gene Kelley who wanted to combine his dancing with her skating. She said no because turning pro would have exluded her from the following year´s championships. Pawlik was said to have the best chance to win the next European and World titles.
Though suffering from acute appendicitis, Eva Pawlik beat her competitor Alena Vrzanová both in school figures and in free-skating in Milan and became the 1949 European Champion. In Paris where the World Championship was held, she was second after school figures, but the difference in score between her and Vrzanová was rather small, so she still had good chances to win. But then one of her heels broke while she and her competitors were warming up. Sabotage was supposed but it could not be proved. The judges did not allow her to try the skates of a companion, so Pawlik had to give up and Vrzanová was able to win the 1949 World Championship without any dangerous competitor. Some weeks later, my mother decided to turn pro, although double Olympic Champion Karl Schäfer implored her to go on skating for one more year.
I don´t think that my mother´s decision to turn pro in 1949 was right. Being the star of the Vienna Ice Revue she showed a free programme that was compared to that of Vrzanová by European journalists and figure skating experts who said that my mother´s programme was both technically and artistically on a higher level. So Karl Schäfer had been right, of course, that she would have had the best chance to win the 1950 World title. But Pawlik wanted to give financial support to her parents whom she loved above all. That was the psychological reason why she turned pro in 1949.
My mother´s strength had always lain in the free skating, though she had had a solid school-figures training. The later Olympic Champion Jeanette Altwegg was not an excellent free skater but an outstanding school-figures skater. An excellent free skater representing a more modern style was Jacqueline du Bief. But she was still too young to be dangerous to my mother if my mother had taken part in the 1950 or 1951 World´s.
In 1947 when my mother probably already was the best European skater and at least the second best in the world, Austrian skaters were not admitted to the European and the World competitions. This exclusion (for political reasons arising out of World War II) prevented my mother from making a name for herself in 1947. Everyone who deals with figure skating knows that the judges are to some extent influenced by a skater´s international recognition. Therefore it is clear that she must have shown an outstanding program in 1948 to win three silver medals (at the European´s, the Olympics and the World´s) as a no-name skater. Although she was - at the first go - the best European skater, she did not win the European Gold in 1948 because non-Europeans were allowed to participate, again for political reasons.
It is good also to remember the conditions in which Austrian skaters developed their skills and competed in the 1930s and '40s. In the 1930s, Eva Pawlik had been considered a child prodigy, able to jump a single axel and do a large number of spins at the age of four. In her teens she would get up at 4 am daily to run to the Vienna ice rink (Wiener Eislaufverein) to practice her school figures before school -- and this at a time when Austrian skaters could practice only in the cold season as there were no indoor skating halls as there were in the US and Canada.
But Nazi Germany´s absorption of Austria in 1938 destroyed sportsmen´s careers and lives. Pawlik was ultimately unable to carry on the Austrian tradition of being world-famous both as a single and as a pairs skater. She should have participated at age 12 in the Olympic Winter Games scheduled to take place in Tokyo in 1940. My parents Eva Pawlik and Rudi Seeliger could take part only in German domestic competitions; they became German youth champions, each as a single skater and together as a couple (this was before Kekesy/Kiraly who went on to win the Olympic Silver Medal in 1948 and the 1949 World Championship). Drafted into the German army, my father was eventually captured and worked as a slave coal-miner in the Soviet Union, incommunicado, until he was allowed to go back to Austria in 1949.
In the end, my parents were lucky -- although my father was unable to restart an amateur career (my mother was already a professional, starring in the Vienna Ice Revue), as they soon became one of the world´s best professional couples. My mother´s lead role in both the ice skating and the frame story of a film featuring the Revue, Spring on the Ice` (Frühling auf dem Eis`, 1950), was what inspired the later Olympic double champion, Ludmilla Belousova, to take up skating. Morris Chalfen, the boss of the revue Holiday On Ice`, considered Pawlik Europe´s best show-star on the ice since Sonja Henie.
Some months before my birth in 1962, my mother ended her skating and became the first female sportscaster of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF). In 1973 she began her third profession as a German and English teacher 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. My father was the manager of a public relations enterprise where he started in 1962.
In 1979 my mother became severely ill and died in 1983, four months after my father who had died from a sudden heart attack.
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