The Remarkable Story Of Magda Mauroy

Photo courtesy Sveriges Centralförening för Idrottens Främjande Archive

"Now it's mostly acrobatics. I think the art technique was more beautiful before." - Magda (Mauroy) Julin, 1986

The daughter of Anne Marie (Roux) and Carl Henrik Edvard Mauroy, Magda Henriette Maria Mauroy was born on July 24, 1894 in Vichy, France. At the time of Magda's birth, Vichy was a fashionable resort town for well-to-do tourists, who flocked to the region to 'cure their ills' through hydrotherapy in world-famous Thermal Baths. Her Swedish-born father ran a physiotherapy institute that was at the center of the area's health tourism industry. Late Victorian attitudes towards health and well-being might have been considered progressive, but they weren't so progressive when it came to morality... so the fact that Magda and her fraternal twin brother Karl were born almost a year before her parents were married would have almost certainly been a closely-guarded a secret at the time.

Magda Mauroy and Gillis Grafström 

As a girl, Magda excelled at gymnastics and dabbled in ice skating but it wasn't until her parents emigrated to Sweden that she began figure skating seriously. She joined the Stockholms Allmänna Skridskoklubb at the age of thirteen and won her first competition (for school children) less than a year later. At the age of sixteen, she entered the Swedish Championships for the first time and won, repeating as her country's national champion in 1916 and 1918. Though the ISU didn't hold the World Championships from 1914 to 1921 due to The Great War, the sport was alive and well in Sweden during this period. Magda won the Nordiska Spelen (Nordic Games) three consecutive times - 1917, 1919 and 1921 and finished second at the Internationale Skøitelop i Kristiania competition in Oslo in 1918. 

Photos courtesy Sveriges Centralförening för Idrottens Främjande Archive

A healthy rivalry with Svea Norén resulted in several second place finishes at the Swedish Championships, but in 1920, twenty-five year old Magda entered the figure skating competition at the Summer Olympic Games in Antwerp determined to come out on top. She trained for the event in St. Moritz under brutal conditions - wind, snow and temperatures that dipped to minus thirty. In Belgium, she convincingly won the school figures but had to change her free skate music at the eleventh hour. She initially planned to skate to Strauss' "Blue Danube" but she was advised against skating to the iconic Viennese waltz due to the widespread anti-German/Austrian sentiments on the Continent at the time. Magda performed well, but America's Theresa Weld Blanchard won the free skate. Magda took the gold medal on the strength of her figures and overall performance, though she received no first place ordinals. 

Most remarkable was the fact that Magda was four months pregnant at the time of her Olympic gold medal win. She had married her husband Per Johan Emil Julin just prior to the Games. Sadly, less than two years after their son's birth, Magda's husband (a sea captain) was killed. In 1925, she married his brother Fredrik Emanuel 'Manne' Julin. With Manne, Magda had a second child, a daughter.

Sadly, Fredrik (who was considerably older than Magda) passed away in October of 1945 at the age of sixty-six. As a widow, Magda supported herself and her children by working as an accounting clerk before taking over the management of the Café Java in Sveavägen. She ran the popular coffee shop for over fifty years.

Toini Gustaffson, four-time Olympic Medallist in cross-country skiing, and Magda (Mauroy) Julin

Though her personal losses must have been heavy, Magda's love of skating never wavered. She was a special guest of honour when the World Championships were held in Gothenburg in 1976 and took interest in the sport's development over the years. Swedish skating historian Lennart Månsson recalled, "Magda Julin carried on skating all her life, alongside her roles as a career woman and raising a family with two young children. In 1985, when she was over 90 years old – to the great delight of the press – she took a few steps on the ice-rink in Kungsträdgården, wearing a pair of skates which had been donated by the virtuoso skater Ulrich Salchow. Her very last performance on ice occurred in 1990 when she was 96 years old."

Magda lived out her golden years at the Danvikshem retirement home and passed away in Nacka on December 21, 1990, less than a year after her final figure skating performance, at the age of ninety-six. Though Swedish skaters like Ulrich Salchow and Gillis Grafström dominated the sport for decades, Magda remains the first Swedish woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a winter sport, the only Swedish woman to win an Olympic gold medal in figure skating and is (at least for one more day!) the only woman in history who never participated in the World Championships to win the sport's most prestigious competition.

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 figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":