Peter Dunfield

Coach Peter Dunfield carries Elizabeth Manley.

Peter Dunfield
Born: (Toronto)
Died: May 25, 2014 (Seattle, Washington)


Skate Canada Hall of Fame (2001)
Professional Skaters Association Coaches Hall of Fame (2005)


Elizabeth Manley completed four flawless triple jumps and a pair of double axels to go with a series of tight spins. The pro-Canadian crowd at the Olympics in Calgary in 1988 went wild for her freestyle routine.

A supporter gave her a cowboy hat which she donned before being held in the air by her exuberant coach.

ImageManley scored seven 5.9s of a possible 6.0, leaping a step on the medal podium ahead of Debi Thomas of the United States to claim a silver medal.

The figure skater credited her success to her coaches, Sonya (née Klopfer) and Peter Dunfield, who had taken her on five years earlier at a low point in her young career.

Dunfield, who has died, aged 82, spent a half-century in the sport as an athlete and coach. In 1951, he won the Canadian junior title over Charles Snelling at the national championship in Vancouver. As a senior skater, he finished third at the nationals in 1952 and ’53.

The skater finished eighth at the 1953 world championships at Davos, Switzerland, which was won by

Hayes Alan Jenkins of the United States. He finished fourth again at the 1954 worlds at Oslo, Norway, again won by Jenkins. He turned professional later that year, taking part in an ice-show extravaganza at Sun Valley, Idaho.

Earlier, he had skated as an amateur in shows conducted by his Toronto Skating Club. He also was part of a club team that won a silver medal at the North American championships in the fours in 1949.

He married Sonya Klopfer, an American named for the great Norwegian skater Sonja Henie. Klopfer, the United States champion in 1951, finished fourth at the 1952 Olympics in Oslo. She won a bronze at the 1951 world championships and and a silver at the 1952 worlds.

As a coach, Dunfield worked six Olympics and numerous world championships. Among the skaters he coached were Ronald and Vivian Joseph, Scotty Allen, Tina Noyes, Allen Schramm, Mark and Melissa Militano, Patrick Pera, and Yuka Sato. The Dunfields coached Manley to three Canadian titles, as well as a world silver to go with her Olympic medal..

The coach caused a stir at the 1988 Olympics for his criticisms of a costume worn by Katarina Witt of East Germany, the favourite and eventual gold-medal winner.

“We’re here to skate in a dress, not a G-string,” he said, calling Witt’s wardrobe “indecent and bizarre.”

The couple operated summer schools and skating camps in Toronto, Ottawa, Denver, New York City and Sun City.

Dunfield served a stint as a president of the Professional Skaters Association. He and his wife were inducted in the PSA Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005, four years after the couple, as well as Manley, were inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame.

Dunfield died in Seattle. He leaves his wife and two sons.

ImagePeter Dunfield and Elizabeth Manley.

ImagePeter and Sonya (Klopfer) Dunfield.



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