The 1900 European Figure Skating Championships

Held on January 21, 1900 in Berlin, the 1900 European Figure Skating Championships marked the first time since 1893 that Germany had played host to the European Championships. Although good ol' Wikipedia claims "Skaters competed only in the categories of men's singles" and "the competitors performed only compulsory figures", the event included competitions for senior men, junior men and pairs skating. It also most definitely included free skating competitions, a fact that is easily referenced in ISU records as well as numerous German and Austrian newspaper accounts. The judging panel for all three events consisted of three German judges, one Swedish judge and one Swiss judge, stacking the events in favour of the German and Austrian participants.

Ulrich Salchow and Gustav Hügel

The turn-of-the-century competition pitted Ulrich Salchow - the two-time and defending European Champion - against Gustav Hügel - the two-time and defending World Champion. Sweden's Salchow took a comfortable lead in the school figures, only to be defeated by Hügel in the free skating. As was often the case in those days as figures counted for more than half of the overall score, Salchow's early lead was more than enough to win him his third European title. Although a Swede - Viktor Balck - was the ISU President at the time, Salchow defeating Hügel in Berlin with only one Scandinavian judge on the panel was still considered something of an upset, even considering Salchow's competitive record to date at the time. Norway's Oscar Holthe and Johan Peter Lefstad placed third and fourth, ahead of Franz Zilly, the bronze medallist from the very first European Championships in Hamburg in 1891. A sixth competitor, Norway's Martinus Lørdahl, was forced to withdraw as the result of an injury.

A report that appeared in the January 28, 1900 issue of the "Illustrierte Sport-Zeitung" noted, "Salchow, perhaps, did the [compulsory] exercises even better than in the previous year. He made them very large and with excellent coverage. In the free-skating, which was very nicely put together and from him was very beautiful, he began with a jump... a spiral [following with] several dance dance steps, the Engelmann Star, Hügel Star... and the end was a Haines pirouette in deep knee bend. Hügel's [figures] were also large in axis and beautifully covered, but he made a sound when he skated which was more than noticed... The verve with which he otherwise completed his program this time was not so noticeable... With a spiral he ran in, then made a very beautiful standing pirouette, several dance steps, his special Haines-Pirouette with low knee, rising to the high pirouette, and a pirouette with the same swing, then some figures of his own invention and finally a deep pirouette. Holthe and Lefstad from Trondheim, the two in a somewhat acrobatic costumes (black with white dressing) skated the [compulsory] exercises not as good as Salchow and Hügel, but both skated brilliantly in the free-skating with colossal and secure jumps and deep pirouettes. Holthe also performed a waltz on one leg, which was quite good."

The junior men's competition which was held in conjunction with the European Championships was won by Edgar Syers of Great Britain. The "Illustrierte Sport-Zeitung" noted, "Syers has significantly improved since the previous year. He's skating now with more momentum and energy and also covers the ice pretty well. His skating was indeed simple, but it was very elegant. Steiner from Vienna skated quite well, and in the free-skating, which was also very simple, he showed some pretty dancing steps."

The pairs competition was won by Viennese siblings Otto and Mizzi Bohatsch. Their program was described as "really exquisitely chosen" and reportedly received "repetitive stormy applause." Madge Cave and Edgar Syers, then engaged to be married, placed second ahead of Christa von Szabo and Herr Euler. They reportedly skated "with great calm and [were] quite elegant."

The Hôtel de Rome in Berlin around the turn of the century

The evening following the competition, the skaters and judges assembled at the Grand Hôtel de Rome for a banquet where the results of the event were announced and prizes awarded.

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