Ellen Burka, Dutch-born Canadian figure skater and coach, Died at 95


Ellen Burka CM (née Danby)was born on August 11, 1921, and died on September 12, 2016.

She was a Canadian-Dutch figure skater and coach.

Ellen became a member of the Order of Canada in 1978 and was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

She was a Dutch national champion in 1946 and 1947 before becoming a coach in Toronto.

Finding Canadian figure skating to be rigid, Burka decided to blend it with ballet and modern dance.

Ellen coached her daughter Petra Burka, who won a bronze medal for Canada at the 1964 Olympics and gold at the 1965 World Championships.

During 1968, she became the coach of Toller Cranston, who won six Canadian national titles and the 1976 Olympic bronze medal.

Ellen Burka also coached Dorothy Hamill, Elvis Stojko, Sandra Bezic / Val Bezic, Patrick Chan, Tracey Wainman, Christopher Bowman, and many other world and Olympic competitors.

She was made a Member of the Order of Canada “for elevating skating to an art form and for imaginative choreography on the ice, in 1978.

During 1996, she was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Ellen Burka was also inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame, the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame, and the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (October 2013).

There was a documentary about Ellen Burka, Skate to Survive, was directed by her daughter Astra and premiered at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival in May 2008.

Which was virtually unknown in her native Netherlands, her life story was featured in Andere Tijden Sport, a sports history program on Dutch national public TV, in January 2015.

In the documentary, she returned to Amsterdam to visit her former family home and the Westerbork transit camp.

She died in Toronto.

Ellen Burka passed away at 95 years old.