Dudley Richards, born in 1932, was the second child of Byron and Ruth Richards. Raised with older brother Ross and younger sister Susan in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Dudley began skating with the Providence Figure Skating Club at age nine. Beginning in 1943, Dudley won every Eastern singles title. After he won the 1946 U.S. novice men’s title, he broke his neck in a diving accident, which prevented him from skating for a year and a half. He finally won the U.S. junior men’s title in 1951. Dudley was a member of the three World Teams in singles, placing fifth in 1951 and 1952 and sixth in 1953. After he graduated from Harvard in 1954, he temporarily retired from skating when the U.S. Army drafted him. He served in the Special Services, performing in the Casa Carioca ice show in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
When Dudley returned to civilian life in 1956, he began his professional career, working in commercial real estate, and he returned to competitive skating in pairs. He had had two previous partners: Tenley Albright in 1951 and Anita Andres in 1954. Dudley and Maribel Y. Owen (Maribel Jr.) became a team in 1957 and were coached by his partner’s mother, Maribel Vinson Owen. They competed at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, were the 1961 U.S. pairs champions, and won the silver medal at the 1961 North Americans. The oldest team member at twenty-nine, he was chosen as the first official World Team captain.