Fritz Dietl at Sun Valley, Idaho 1956
Born in Vienna, Austria, Fritz started his skating career at the age of 11 skating on the frozen Danube River. By age 18 he was a professional skater touring Europe. For a while in the 1930's, he toured in his own European ice show. One tour took him to Johannesburg, South Africa where he settled down before moving to the United States.
With an offer from Arthur Wirtz (the co-producer of Sonja Henie's touring ice skating show, the "Hollywood Ice Revue"), Fritz moved to the United States in 1939. For the next six years he performed with the Hollywood Ice Revue playing to packed houses as he partnered Sonja Henie and performed his unique stilts act.
Fritz skated atop 18 inch high stilts, jumping, spinning, and gliding with apparent ease. He not only mastered the skating techniques involved in skating on his stilts, he also engineered the special "ankle like" hinge on the stilts which enabled him to jump with them.
After the shows closed Fritz turned to coaching. He became a prominent feature at Iceland, located in the old Madison Square Garden on 50th Street and 8th Avenue in Manhattan.
Fritz, with his wife Carola and their two sons
Gregory and Ernst, aboard the Lady
Windmere at his 90th birthday celebration
Fritz continued coaching at Iceland until several years after building his rink in Westwood, New Jersey. Wearing many hats at his rink (rink owner, operator, coach) Fritz also became active in several of the fledgling ice skating organizations. Early on he realized the need for strong professional organizations for the coaches (Professional Skaters Association and the International Professional Skating Union) and championed the industry organization for rink owners (Ice Skating Institute). Fritz was a charter member of all three organizations and served on the Board of Directors for the PSA and the ISI as well. He contributed much expertise and, sometimes, even financial support.
Fritz continued coaching, running his rink, and contributing to the ice skating industry until his death in 2003. Since then his wife, Carola, and their two sons, Ernst and Gregory, have picked up the mantle and carry on the operation of the rink.