John Nicks

John Nicks
Personal information
Full name John Allen Wisden Nicks
Country represented Great Britain
Born (1929-04-22) April 22, 1929
Former partner Jennifer Nicks
For the 19th-century New York politician, see John I. Nicks.

John Allen Wisden Nicks (born April 22, 1929) is a British figure skating coach and former pair skater. With his sister and pairs partner, Jennifer Nicks, he is the 1953 World champion. As a coach, his skating pupils have included Peggy Fleming, pairs team Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Kristi Yamaguchi, Sasha Cohen, and Ashley Wagner.

Personal life

John Nicks, the son of a sporting goods store owner, grew up in Brighton, England.[1][2] He is the brother of Jennifer Nicks.[1]

Nicks moved to the United States in the 1960s and was briefly an undocumented alien but received his green card a few weeks later.[1] He married American former ice dancer Yvonne Littlefield.[3] He became a U.S. citizen around 2008.[1]


John Nicks began skating at age 10 or 11 after his father – who knew nothing about skating but wanted to sell skating equipment – put him in skates in order to learn more about them.[1]

John and Jennifer Nicks competed initially as singles skaters but agreed to train together in pair skating upon the request of the British association, which promised to support them.[1] They made their first Olympic appearance at the 1948 Winter Olympics, where they finished 8th. Recalling the competition in a January 2013 interview, John Nicks said, "it was snowing so much they had to stop the skating after every three skaters to clear the snow."[1] He was impressed by the American skaters at the event, in particular Dick Button – this would later influence his decision to come to the United States.[1]

The Nicks siblings won the first of their four World medals, silver, at the 1950 World Championships. They won World bronze the next two seasons and competed at their second Olympics in 1952, where they finished 4th. The pair won gold at the 1953 World Championships in Davos, Switzerland. John Nicks said, "We were skating outdoors back then, and the temperature was, like, 28 degrees during a practice. It was so cold that I remember when I was taking off my boots that my laces were frozen."[1] The siblings retired from competition after the event.

John Nicks moved to South Africa, where he skated in shows and began coaching, but moved back to England in 1960 and eventually on to Canada, coaching in Trail, British Columbia.[2] Following the February 1961 crash of Sabena Flight 548, he received four offers of a coaching job in the United States and agreed to coach at a rink in Paramount, California owned by Frank Zamboni.[1][2] He first appeared at the U.S. Championships as a coach in 1965.[1]

Nicks currently coaches in Aliso Viejo, California.[2] He has coached over 1,200 skaters during his career.[1] In April 2013, he said he would no longer travel but would still coach Ashley Wagner at the Aliso Viejo Ice Palace.[4]

Nicks was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000. He appeared as a judge on the 2006 FOX television program Skating with Celebrities.

His students have included:

Competitive highlights

(with Jennifer Nicks)

Event 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953
Winter Olympic Games 8th 4th
World Championships 8th 6th 2nd 3rd 3rd 1st
European Championships 6th 5th 6th 3rd 3rd 2nd 1st
British Championships 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Rosewater, Amy (January 14, 2013). "A life in skating: An interview with John Nicks". IceNetwork.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Reid, Scott M. (March 27, 2012). "Time hasn't slowed down figure skating's Nicks". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on May 1, 2012.
  3. Reid, Scott M. (February 21, 2006). "Legendary coach gives skaters the edge". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012.
  4. Rosewater, Amy (April 25, 2013). "Wagner adjusts after Nicks puts traveling aside". IceNetwork.
  5. Rosewater, Amy (June 14, 2011). "Wagner goes West in search of gold medals". IceNetwork. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
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