John Allen Wisden Nicks (born April 22, 1929) is a British figure skating coach and former pair skater. With his sister and pairs partner, Jennifer Nicks, he is the 1953 World champion. As a coach, his skating pupils have included Peggy Fleming, pairs team Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Kristi Yamaguchi, Sasha Cohen, and Ashley Wagner.
John Nicks, the son of a sporting goods store owner, grew up in Brighton, England. He is the brother of Jennifer Nicks.
Nicks moved to the United States in the 1960s and was briefly an undocumented alien but received his green card a few weeks later. He married American former ice dancer Yvonne Littlefield. He became a U.S. citizen around 2008.
John Nicks began skating at age 10 or 11 after his father – who knew nothing about skating but wanted to sell skating equipment – put him in skates in order to learn more about them.
John and Jennifer Nicks competed initially as singles skaters but agreed to train together in pair skating upon the request of the British association, which promised to support them. They made their first Olympic appearance at the 1948 Winter Olympics, where they finished 8th. Recalling the competition in a January 2013 interview, John Nicks said, "it was snowing so much they had to stop the skating after every three skaters to clear the snow." He was impressed by the American skaters at the event, in particular Dick Button – this would later influence his decision to come to the United States.
The Nicks siblings won the first of their four World medals, silver, at the 1950 World Championships. They won World bronze the next two seasons and competed at their second Olympics in 1952, where they finished 4th. The pair won gold at the 1953 World Championships in Davos, Switzerland. John Nicks said, "We were skating outdoors back then, and the temperature was, like, 28 degrees during a practice. It was so cold that I remember when I was taking off my boots that my laces were frozen." The siblings retired from competition after the event.
John Nicks moved to South Africa, where he skated in shows and began coaching, but moved back to England in 1960 and eventually on to Canada, coaching in Trail, British Columbia. Following the February 1961 crash of Sabena Flight 548, he received four offers of a coaching job in the United States and agreed to coach at a rink in Paramount, California owned by Frank Zamboni. He first appeared at the U.S. Championships as a coach in 1965.
Nicks currently coaches in Aliso Viejo, California. He has coached over 1,200 skaters during his career. In April 2013, he said he would no longer travel but would still coach Ashley Wagner at the Aliso Viejo Ice Palace.
Nicks was inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000. He appeared as a judge on the 2006 FOX television program Skating with Celebrities.
His students have included:Peggy Fleming
Jo Jo Starbuck / Kenneth Shelley
Tai Babilonia / Randy Gardner
Jenni Meno / Todd Sand
Kristi Yamaguchi / Rudy Galindo
Naomi Nari Nam
Ashley Wagner (since June 2011)
Michael Christian Martinez
(with Jennifer Nicks)