Skip to main content
Impact Magazine

Skating Across the Finish Line into the Hall of Fame

A light-skinned woman with a brown layered pixie cut smiles towards the camera. Her face is heavily wrinkled, and she wears unrimmed oval glasses. She wears a navy blue turtleneck mostly covered by a loose blue zip up jacket with a red and white striped collar, red paneling on the shoulders, and white paneling on the sides. The logo on the right side says USA in red letters with the five-ring Olympic logo below it. She holds a pair of black Viking speed skates, the blades covered by leather, that have purple striped laces.

If you met Barbara Lockhart (EXSC ’71) today, she might tell you about her golfing hobby, her role as a senior missionary, or her time working as a BYU exercise sciences professor. What you might not learn, however, is that she was on the United States Speedskating Team—and she was recently inducted into the US Speedskating Hall of Fame.

A Tenacious Spirit

Lockhart started skating at age eight. Noticing how fast she ran, her father wondered if her speed would give her an edge on the ice as well. He bought her an awkward pair of large and long skates—quite the contrast to her small frame. While Lockhart was practicing in a park near her hometown of Chicago, a group of boys started teasing her about her disproportionate skates. So she challenged them to a race. Her tenacious skating, diving into the snowbanks to try to win each close race against those boys, drew the eye of national speed skating champion Elaine Gordon. The boys’ heckling paid great dividends when Gordon invited Lockhart to join her skating club, the Northwest Skating Club of Chicago.

When Lockhart was a senior in high school, the International Olympic Committee announced that women’s speed skating would make its debut as an official event in the 1960 Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, California. Drawing on her relentless passion for the sport, she decided to try out for the Olympics. She participated in the 500-meter qualifying race and won, becoming the first woman to qualify for the US Speedskating Team.

Black and white photo of a light-skinned woman with a soft pixie cut and glasses whose plastic frame lifts up along the eyebrow line. She wears a dark collared shirt under a knit white sweater with the five-ring Olympic logo across her chest.

It was a historic achievement that hadn't even seemed possible when she was younger. Lockhart went on to place in the top 20 in the 1500-meter event in the games.

Olympic Dreams

Representing the United States was very exciting for Lockhart. “I’m very patriotic,” she says. “It was thrilling to wear the red, white, and blue uniforms and represent my country. I love this country.”

I don’t even remember them announcing my name. I just remember hearing my number—34, United States—and getting goosebumps.
Barbara Lockhart

In 1964, Lockhart again represented Team USA in Innsbruck, Austria. “I don’t even remember them announcing my name. I just remember hearing my number—34, United States—and getting goosebumps,” Lockhart recalls. “I was in the 3000-meter event in one of those ‘in the zone’ moments—a peak experience. It was almost a two-mile race, but it felt effortless. I was on pace to break the Olympic and world record, and I was going to medal. Going into the last lap, all I had to do was finish. The track was outside—there were no inside tracks at the time—and it felt like I stepped on something on the ice. Down I went. I got up and finished, but I had lost 15–20 seconds.”

After this unfortunate result, Lockhart got a surprise second chance. “They substituted me in for the 1000 meter,” she shares. “I didn’t expect to do well because I had been training for distance, but I got 10th place, which was my best result.”

These incredible Olympic experiences helped Lockhart meet friends from all over the world, including Russian skaters during the Cold War. “The Russians were the best skaters in the world,” she says. “We all trained so hard to get there; we had this common bond and made friendships quickly.” Lockhart became especially good friends with Klara Nesterova, who, in ’60, was the first woman to win the 1000-meter speed skating gold at the Olympics. Had Barbara not fallen in the 3000-meter race in ’64, she would have finished before Nesterova. Lockhart recalls that Nesterova was in tears as Lockhart came around the final corner and finished after her fall. As close friends, Nesterova wanted Lockhart to do well regardless of the fact that Lockhart would have placed ahead.

"Had Barbara not fallen in the 3000-meter race in ’64, she would have finished before Nesterova. Lockhart recalls that Nesterova was in tears as Lockhart came around the final corner and finished after her fall."

Poor-quality black-and-white photo of two women standing on an ice rink with their arms around each other wearing skates with long speed skating blades. The woman on the left is light-skinned, and her short hair peeks out under a wool hat. She wears a light turtleneck sweater, dark pants, and knight gloves. The woman on the left, Lockhart, has a dark pixie cut and wears a medium-toned USA sweater and medium-toned pants. On her free arm, a panel with 34 on it is slipped over her sweater.

Lockhart sustained a foot injury just before her third and final Olympic games. Although she couldn’t compete, she still went to France to cheer on her friends and teammates.

Photo of a printed black-and-white-page, the flash slightly reflected on the left side. Serif font on the top says Senior Ladies, and below the photo it says Barbara Lockhart. The photo shows a light-skinned woman in the middle of skating outside, her right leg extended out, her left arm thrown upward, and her right arm swinging across her body. She's wearing a dark-and-light striped knit hat, a dark sweater, dark shorts, and dark leggings.

To Testify of Truth

While Lockhart treasures her Olympic career, it was meeting missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that set the course for rest of her life. “Since I was 10 years old, I had told my parents that I wanted to be in Christ’s church. So I kept searching,” Lockhart says. She had just returned from the 1963 skating championship in Japan when she encountered the missionaries. “They taught me, and I knew I had finally found His church after I prayed to know if God had really visited Joseph Smith.” She joined the Church soon thereafter.

Lockhart invested her talents in teaching the next generation. She was a physical education teacher in Los Angeles and held teaching positions at Temple University and the University of Iowa. “BYU kept offering me a job, but I thought I was where I should be,” Lockhart says. “Then in 1990, BYU said, ‘If you’re going to come back, it has to be now,’ so I went to my knees and felt prompted to come back.” She spent 25 years blessing the lives of her students at BYU with her knowledge, experience, and—most important—her testimony: “As a professor at other universities, I couldn’t say everything I wanted to,” she explains. “But at BYU I shared my scriptures and quoted the prophets and could finally teach the truth.”

Photo taken from the side with a bright flash. A light-skinned woman laughs as she carries a thin silver cone torch with fire coming out of the top. She's wearing a white knit hat, white gloves, and a white zip up sweater with a line of blue lightning across the chest. In the background, a darkened crowd of people watch and take photos.
Barbara Lockhart carrying the Olympic torch in 2002.

She spent 25 years blessing the lives of her students at BYU with her knowledge, experience, and—most important—her testimony.

A Call to Fame

As far as Lockhart was concerned, she wasn’t eligible for the US Speedskating Hall of Fame because she had not met one of the competition requirements. However, as the sport grew, the rules were reconsidered. “Someone realized the rules were out-of-date and amended them, which made me eligible for the Hall of Fame,” Lockhart says.

Sara Bowles (EXSC ’17)—a manager at the Utah Olympic Oval and one of Lockhart’s former BYU students—discovered the rule change and spearheaded the process to nominate Lockhart. Bowles was thrilled to make the phone call to give Lockhart the good news.

“I was so excited,” Lockhart shares. “I have a teammate who was inducted, my coach Elaine Gordon was inducted, and a friend from the Northwest Skating Club was inducted. I am so excited to be able to join people I know and love in receiving this honor.”

Lockhart was officially inducted into the US Speedskating Hall of Fame on May 19, 2023.

Two women stand in a conference room smiling widely. The woman on the left is tall, light-skinned, and muscled. She has straight dark hair past her shoulders. She wears a halter neck light brown sweater. The woman on the right, Barbara Lockhart, is shorter by three or four inches and light-skinned. Her brown hair is in a fluffy pixie cut. She wears unrimmed glasses, a black turtleneck, a scoop-neck white sweater with a hot pink collar, and a long gold necklace. She holds a trophy in her hands.
Induction event with Brittany Bowe: 3-time Olympian, 2-time bronze medalist, current National Team Member.
Photo by US Speedskating