Toe-Loop's In Texas: The Sully Kothmann Story

Olympic figure skaters Lucile Ann Ash and Sully Kothmann
Lucile Ann Ash and Sully Kothmann

In the first half of the twentieth century, figure skating wasn't exactly a sport that thrived in the America's Deep South. In the late forties, the state of Texas only played host to three permanent ice rinks - the Texas Ice Palace in Beaumont, the Dallas Ice Arena and the San Pedro Park Ice Co's Iceland rink in San Antonio. Ice was only installed in the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth when a touring ice show like the Ice Follies rolled into town. Despite its lack of training facilities, The Lone Star State played host to some damn fine skaters... but never one that 'made it big'. All of that changed when Sully Kothmann came along.

Sully Kothmann, the first Olympic figure skater from TexasSully Kothmann, the first Olympic figure skater from Texas

The son of Agnes Anita (Riley) and Roy Monroe Kothmann, Carlos Anesee 'Sully' Kothmann was born February 26, 1933 in Uvalde, Texas. He grew up on West Huisache Avenue in the historic neighborhood of Jefferson, San Antonio with his parents and older brother Riley, who went by 'Boots'. Boots and Sully's father was a prominent cattleman who established a number of livestock sales companies which played a big part in supporting the economies of the rural areas where they were located.

Sully Kothmann, the first Olympic figure skater from TexasSully Kothmann, the first Olympic figure skater from TexasSully Kothmann, the first Olympic figure skater from Texas

Sully first took to the ice at the age of six at the San Pedro Park Iceland rink just before World War II broke out. As a tall, lanky student at the Central Catholic High School and Jesuit College Preparatory School in San Antonio, he divided his training time between the San Pedro Park Iceland and the Dallas Ice Arena over four hours away. After graduating high school, Sully moved north to attend Colorado College and joined the Broadmoor Skating Club. It was there his skating career really took off.

Mary Ann Dorsey, Sully Kothmann, Betty Lynne Stogner, Ronnie Robertson, Dickie Vraa, Stephanie Westerfeld and Carol Keyes at the 1952 Midwestern Championships
Mary Ann Dorsey, Sully Kothmann, Betty Lynne Stogner, Ronnie Robertson, Dickie Vraa, Stephanie Westerfeld and Carol Keyes at the 1952 Midwestern Championships. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

In 1952, Sully was the Midwestern Champion in junior men's and the bronze medallist in novice men's at the U.S. Championships - the first medal ever won by Texan man at the event. 

Sully Kothmann, the first Olympic figure skater from Texas

The following year, Sully and Kay Servatius took the bronze in senior pairs at the U.S. Championships. Kay received an offer to join Holiday On Ice, so Sully briefly teamed up with Frances Dorsey. The partnership didn't work out and within weeks he teamed up with Lucile Ann Ash.

Lucile Ann Ash and Sully Kothmann
Lucile Ann Ash and Sully Kothmann

In a matter of three years, Lucile and Sully won the Midwestern pairs title, three medals at the U.S. Championships, finished fourth in the North American Championships and in the top eight at two World Championships. They represented America at the 1956 Winter Olympic Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, where they placed a very impressive seventh ahead of two teams who would go on to medal at the European Championships two years later. Sully was the first Texan figure skater to ever compete at the Olympics, World and North American Championships.

Video courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd

In the sixties, Sully coached at Westwood Ice Skating Studio in Los Angeles and the Van Nuys Iceland rink. Afterwards, he opened his own restaurant... which ended up going down a canyon embankment during The 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. That same year, his brother Boots passed away and he had to go back to Texas to help run one of the family businesses, the Uvalde Livestock Commission Co. A later four year offer to teach Olympic hopefuls in Australia turned into an eight year job. Sully and his wife Taylor settled moved to Arizona in 1982, where he opened his own figure skating school. Sully tragically passed away of a sudden heart attack on May 5, 1986 in Scarsdale at the age of fifty-three.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.