Peter McBride Dunfield, age 82, passed away peacefully in his sleep while resting next to his wife, Sonya, on Monday, May 26, 2014. Peter is survived by his wife, Sonya; two sons, Gregory and Roger, and their wives, Michele and Yvonne; and four grandchildren.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Peter grew up with two brothers, Ross and John, and two sisters, Ilma and June. The son of a successful retailer, he attended Toronto Collegiate Institute and spent summers at the family cottage on Toronto Island.
Peter started competitive figure skating at the Toronto Granite Club where he became the Canadian junior figure skating champion; he was the 1951 junior national champion and the senior bronze medalist in 1952 and 1953. He also represented Canada on two North American and two world figure skating teams.
He attended the University of Toronto for two years and completed his formal education at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., where he started his coaching career. He went on to coach in Chicago and then 20 years at the Skating Club of New York. In 1993, he moved back to Canada to become head coach at the Gloucester Skating Club outside Ottawa. In the summers, he coached at skating schools in Rochester, N.Y., Denver, Colo., Toronto, Ontario, and Sun Valley Idaho.
Peter coached at six Olympic Games and 18 World Championships with competitors from Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand and the United States. His pupils medaled in Ladies, Men’s and Pairs competition.
He was a charter member of the Ice Skating Institute of America and served on their board. As president of the Professional Skaters Guild of America (1967-1970), he was responsible for initiating the national rating system for professionals in the USA and inaugurated the annual professional conventions, which have spawned teaching seminars all over the United States.
Peter was awarded the Longines-Wittnauer Coaching Excellence Award in 1988 and the Wittnauer Coaching Excellence Award in 1994, both presented by the Coaching Association of Canada. He was named Canadian Figure Skating Association Coach of the Year in 1993, and the Professional Skaters Guild of America Coach of the Year in 1994. In 2001, Peter was inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame along with his wife, Sonya, and in 2005, he was inducted into the Professional Skaters Association Coaches Hall of Fame.
Peter first came to Sun Valley in the summer of 1949 on the Union Pacific railway at the age of 17 and worked as a bellhop in the Sun Valley Lodge while skating in the ice shows on Saturday nights. In the early 1960s, Peter and Sonya visited Sun Valley often as a new couple. After the construction of the indoor rink in 1974, he and Sonya spent many summers coaching in Sun Valley, where they attracted skaters from across the country to train. Peter also very much enjoyed leading groups of skaters on local hikes. He loved the Sun Valley area and shared that love with his family and pupils. His passion for Western art was also well-served with the local festivals. After many years as part-time residents, in 2002, Peter and Sonya made Sun Valley their full-time home.
On July 20, we will gather on the terrace at the Sun Valley Lodge for a memorial service to celebrate his life. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Skaters Fund (www.skatersfund.org) or the PS Foundation (www.skatepsa.com).