'She's a legend': Ellen Burka, the renowned Canadian figure skating coach, drove herself to the rink the other day. In Ontario, drivers are required to renew their licence every two years after they turn 80, and Burka had proudly passed her test again earlier in the year, for the “fifth or sixth time.”
“Oh, I’m bored at home,” she said with a laugh. “What shall I do? What do you want me to do? I’m sitting at home all day long, a little old lady, 92 years old. So I keep going. And they still want me, believe it or not.”
She still coaches young skaters, at two Toronto rinks, even though no one could deny she has earned the right to a rest, if she wanted. Burka is a Holocaust survivor; a champion in her own skating career, in Holland; a woman who was “dragged” to Canada after the war by a soon-to-be-ex-husband; a coach who let a future Canadian star live in her basement, and who helped shape her adopted country’s approach to the sport she loves.
Burka has already received the Order of Canada. She has already been enshrined in many different homes of distinction, including Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. And on Tuesday, she joins another, with her official induction into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, in a ceremony at the upscale Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club.
“She’s a legend in Canadian figure skating,” said Brian Orser, a two-time Olympic silver medal winner who has known Burka since he was a teenager.
Read the full feature on the National Post’s website. (Photo: Peter J. Thompson/National Post)