Robert Wagenhoffer (1960-1999)

1982 U.S. silver medalist
1981 U.S. bronze medalist
Two-time champion of Jaca World Pros
U.S. professional champion

Robert Wagenhoffer, considered one of the most brilliant technicians and showmen of the 1970s and 80s, died of AIDS-related complications on December 13, 1999. He was 39. He is survived by life partner Sylvain Beauregard.

Wagenhoffer won the short program over Scott Hamilton at the 1982 U.S. Nationals. He was widely respected by his peers for, among other things, practicing quadruple toe loops in the 1970s, ten years before the first one was landed in competition. During his last years, he was skating, choreographing, and coaching in California.

He came out in a January/February 1996 interview with Monica Friedlander for Blades on Ice magazine. He spoke candidly and movingly of losing two family members to AIDS: his closest brother, in 1992, and his life partner of six years, Billy Lawe, in 1995.

After Lawe's death, Wagenhoffer approached the work of skating with a freedom that came of having faced the worst. He won critical praise for his ensemble show choreography of Nutcracker on Ice in 1995 and Gershwin on Ice in 1996, as well as individual programs such as Eric Millot's "Hunchback of Notre Dame" in 1997. He continued to wow audiences with the performing ability, deep edges, and soaring jumps that earned him legendary status starting from the 1970s.

Wagenhoffer performed in "Ice Fantastic" in 1998 and 1999, an annual skating fundraiser for CARES (Center for AIDS Research and Education Services) at the Iceland Ice Rink in Sacramento, California.

He choreographed "Skate Against Hate," a benefit for Brian Boitano's new Youth Skate program that took place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on September 17, 1998. Stars included Boitano, Nancy Kerrigan, Rudy Galindo, Surya Bonaly, Punsalan and Swallow, Scott Williams, and Rory Flack Burghart.

Copyright Photo by J. Barry Mittan

Click on this photo to enlarge it.

Back to Menu