Kit Klein

Ice Skating Champion

Catherine “Kit” Klein, the winner of a number of local, national and olympic speed skating titles, was the epitome of the self-made champion. As an upcoming young skater, she would ride her bicycle over the Peace Bridge each morning, even during the winter, to practice for a few hours at the Fort Erie Arena. Then she would bike back to Buffalo and go to work at her full-time job.

In time her dedication, determination and rigorous training schedule paid off and she became Buffalo’s greatest contribution to women’s speed skating. She became so well known in Western New York that on February 3, 1931 more than 12,000 fans showed up in Delaware Park to watch her defend her 440-yard and 660-yard city speed skating championships. The throng even included the legendary Jack Dempsey who posed with Kit for news photographers after the meet.

In 1932 when women’s speed skating was still staged as an exhibition event, Klein took first place in the 1,500 meters, and third in the 500 meters at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. In 1934 she was the American indoor and outdoor skating champion.

Klein’s performance in the 1932 games helped pave the way for the inclusion of women’s speed skating in future Olympiads, and in 1936 she won the first official World Allround Speed Skating Championship for women in Stockholm, Sweden.

After the championship, Klein toured Europe and dabbled in the theatre before returning to the States and settling down in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with her husband, Dr. Thomas Outland, an orthopedic surgeon. Kit passed away in 1985.