Laurence Rochon Owen, born in 1944 in Berkeley, California, was the youngest daughter of skating champions, Maribel Vinson Owen and Guy Owen. She was named after her paternal grandmother, Laurence Rochon, of Ontario Canada. Laurence began skating at age two and was coached by her mother, but her competitive success was slow in coming—she placed last in many competitions and had a brief fling competing in pairs with Bill Hickox. After her parents divorced, she moved with her mother and sister Maribel Jr. to Boston in 1954. She finally won the 1956 Eastern junior ladies title, but had to withdraw from her first U.S. Championships when she broke her wrist.
Representing The Skating Club of Boston, she won the 1958 U.S. junior ladies bronze medal, and the following year won the 1959 U.S. junior ladies title. Laurence won many fans with her artistry and her joyful spirit on the ice. After placing third at the 1960 U.S. Championships in Seattle, she was named to the Olympic Team, where she placed sixth. In 1961, she won both the U.S. ladies title and the North American ladies title. It was the first time a daughter and mother had won the same title in both championships. Her mother, Maribel Vinson Owen, groomed her to accomplish what had eluded Maribel: winning an Olympic gold medal. Laurence, who was also a pianist and a dancer, was a brilliant scholar like her mother. She had received early admittance to Radcliffe and dreamed of becoming a writer.