Born in Amsterdam, Petra Burka first came to Canada with her family in 1951 and quickly took up figure skating because her mother, Ellen Burka, was a skating coach. Her talent was quickly noticed and, at the age of 15, she won the Junior Canadian Championships by becoming the first female to land a triple jump at the national tournament. She attended her first World Championship the following year, placing 4th, but her funds were quickly running out because figure skaters did not receive sponsorships during that era. She was saved, however, by Toronto Maple Leafs co-owner Stafford Smythe, who noticed both her talent and plight, and who offered her a chance to skate at the Maple Leaf Gardens every morning before the ice hockey players arrived. She took 5th place at the 1963 World Championships, but rose to 3rd in 1964, in addition to capturing the Canadian senior women’s title and an Olympic bronze medal in singles. The following year, 1965, was her peak year and she captured the Canadian, North American, and World Championship titles in singles, then followed it up with another year as Canadian champion, third place at the World Championships, and a series of international tours. After she hung up her skates, she worked to promote figure skating with the Canadian Figure Skating Association and Sport Canada before finding work in the commercial film industry and as a coach. Since 1999 she has worked as a skating consultant for Team Canada. She was named Canada’s top female athlete in 1964 and 1965, won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s overall top athlete in 1965, and was named to the Canada Sports Hall of Fame that year as well.