Seventeen years ago the Ice Capades handed Dorothy Hamill—fresh from her triumph at the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria—a seven-figure contract. Now Hamill wants to return the favor—as co-owner and president.

And not a moment too soon. The show declared bankruptcy in September 1991. It lost about $2 million in 1991 and 1992. "The Ice Capades is a trademark in skating," says Hamill, 36, unlacing her skates after a matinee in Saginaw, Mich. "When I heard the show was in Chapter 11, I thought, 'What a tragedy.' "

This month Hamill announced that she and her husband, sports physician Kenneth Forsythe, 49, had agreed to buy the Ice Capades in collaboration with a friend, Alaska businessman Ben Tisdale. Hamill knew what she was buying. Last September she rejoined the company after a nine-year absence to take an inside look. "I discovered there was something there to save," she says.

To save it, Hamill will have to devote all her energies to skating. In recent years she has had plenty of distractions. In 1984 her two-year marriage to actor-tennis player-musician Dean Paul Martin ended in divorce (he was later killed in a plane crash), and in 1987 she married Forsythe, whom she had met at a Palm Springs, Calif., golf tournament. Their daughter, Alexandra, is 4. Until her recent stint with the Ice Capades, Hamill, who lives in Indian Wells, Calif., performed only occasionally—her main income coming from endorsement deals with NutraSweet, Healthy Choice, Casio and Bausch & Lomb.

Once she takes over the Ice Capades' three touring shows in June, Hamill plans to improve the quality of the skating and to put at least one big name on the marquee: her own. After all, what's an ice show without a Hamill camel?