Douglas Alexander Ramsay, born in 1944, was the second child of Alex and Jean Ramsay’s four children. He began skating at age six on a makeshift pond. At age eight he joined the Detroit Skating Club and began lessons with coach Bill Swallender. Doug traveled with his coach to summertime training, in Lake Placid, East Lansing, and several Canadian summer centers. He enjoyed a string of Midwestern championships, winning the juvenile title in 1955, the novice title in 1956 and the junior title in 1957. An illness in 1958 prevented him from competing at the 1958 Midwesterns. Beginning in 1957, Doug went to Nationals every year; he had limited success, placing eighth in 1957, fifth in 1958, and fourth in 1959. Finally in 1960, he captured the U.S. men’s junior title in one of the closest junior men matches in history.
At the 1961 U.S. Championships, Doug placed fourth and was named the first alternate to the 1961 U.S. World Team. When Tim Brown, the 1961 bronze medalist, bowed out due to health problems, the USFSA invited Doug to join the team a week before the 1961 North American Championships. Although Doug placed fourth in Philadelphia, he was a huge sensation at his first international competition. Through the years people compared him to champions Dick Button, Ronnie Robertson, David Jenkins, and in time, Scott Hamilton. The last-minute inclusion of Doug on the 1961 World Team also included his coach Bill Swallender, who flew with him to Prague.