Lillian & Ruth Corke

Lilian and Ruth Corke

Lillian and Ruth Corke, the twin daughters of Richard and Elizabeth Hofer Corke, were born in New York City on April 15, 1912. Their father was a well known athlete—a champion amateur ice skater and cyclist. At the age of forty he broke the auto-paced bicycle record from Albany to New York City, by 47 minutes, covering the 150 miles in 8 hours and 4 minutes.

Ruth and Lillian began their ice skating careers at the of twelve when they won first and second places in the Juvenile Metropolitan competition in Central Park and were awarded prizes at the New York City Hall.

When the family moved to Yonkers the Corke sisters spent winters practicing on Van Cortland Lake and on Tibbetts Pond. They were coached by their fathers and by members of the Middle Atlantic Skating Association.

They began serious competition in 1928, when they were sixteen years of age, representing the Majestic Radio team and competed against the finest senior women skaters on the eastern seaboard. In 1929 Ruth won the Westchester County Outdoor Championship against outstanding competition, adding this title to the Hudson Valley Championship she won in 1927 and the N.Y. Women’s Skating Club (Class A) title in 1927-28. However, her career was short lived as she married Bill Smithers, a famous Gorton High School all around athlete in 1929, and gave up competitive skating.

Lillian, however, continued her intense interest in the sport and from 1930-32 won the following ice skating championships—N.Y. State Outdoors; N.Y. State Indoor; Middle Atlantic States Outdoor; Middle Atlantic States Outdoor Westchester County Indoor; Westchester County outdoor; Runner up in the North American Outdoor; Hudson County Outdoor; and was a member of the 1932 Olympic Women’s Exhibition Team. Her victory in the Silver Skates Derby in Central Park highlighted in the national press for it was accomplished after she had fallen at the beginning of the race. America’s premier sports writer, Paul Gallico, eulogized her in a feature article, entitled “The Lady Is Determined”

In 1931, at the age of nineteen, she was officially ranked No. 1 among women skaters by the Middle Atlantic skating Association, joining Olympic star Irving Jafee, who was given a similar rating among the men. She was elevated one notch above the great Elsie Muller, who had held the No.1 berth for the past ten years. In addition to her championship titles Lillian skated in handicap races from scratch at Iceland and the Ice Club in New York City and performed in exhibitions races during the hockey intermissions at Madison Square Garden.

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