The Best Of 2018: A Skate Guard New Year's Spectacular


Over the last twelve months, Skate Guard blog has shared over one hundred fascinating stories from figure skating's rich and colourful history. It's been an absolute pleasure hearing from so many of you throughout the year. Learning about your own connections to and perceptions of these important stories has to be the best part of 'doing what I do' and I cannot wait to continue to share even more of these gems with you in the coming year! To cap off what has certainly been in an interesting year in the world, I wanted to share a perfect 10.0 of my favourite pieces from the past year that you may have missed. If you haven't read any of these yet, make the time... they're honestly just fascinating tales!

10. THE HUB TRIO: ACRO-ICE PIONEERS FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE

Photo courtesy Jared Hergenrader

During World War II, a surveyor, photo engraver and paint salesman all gave up their jobs in New Hampshire to join the cast of the Ice Capades and put the backflip on the map. Learn more about their story in this August 2018 blog.

9. HOW THE MOHAWK GOT ITS NAME


The convoluted story of how one of figure skating's most basic turns got its name has everything from stiff English Style skaters in top hats to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. We broke it all down in June 2018.

8. THE 1957 WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

Before the 'Wild West Worlds' of 1957, the World Figure Skating Championships had only been held on North American soil twice - New York City in 1930 and Montreal in 1932. This December 2018 blog took an in-depth look at the on and off ice stories from this historic competition.

7. SWEET DOLL OF HADDON HALL: THE DOROTHY GREENHOUGH SMITH STORY


Prior to the Great War, British skater Dorothy Greenhough Smith won medals at the Summer Olympic Games and British Championships, defeated men to claim the British title and landed an Axel in a skirt down to her ankles. This February 2018 blog explores this pioneer's fascinating back story. 

6. SON OF LAZARUS: THE MARTIN GORDAN STORY



Jewish skater Martin Gordan won a medal at the 1908 Summer Olympic Games, survived World War II and made history as one of Germany's first sport photographers. This May 2018 blog, a collaboration with German skating historian Dr. Matthias Hampe, served as the English counterpart to Dr. Hampe's article which appeared in "Eissport" magazine this year.

5.ANCHORS AWEIGH: TRUE TALES OF SKATERS ON THE HIGH SEAS


In the days before commercial air travel, figure skaters often travelled from 'point A' to 'point B' aboard ocean liners. Some of them skipped rope on the decks to counteract lost ice time in the days leading up to their next competition; others survived German u-boat attacks. This September 2018 blog culled together a series of fascinating footnotes about skaters on the high seas.

4. UNRAVELLING THE RUSSIAN JUDGE STEREOTYPE


The "low mark from the Russian judge" was once a trope that transcended figure skating. This April 2018 blog takes an in-depth look at how Soviet judges - justifiably or unjustifiably - earned a bad rap in the latter part of the twentieth century.

3. SONJA'S WILD PARTY


Three time Olympic Gold Medallist and ten time World Champion Sonja Henie wasn't only known for her figure skating prowess and success on the silver screen. Her Hollywood parties were epic... and one she threw in 1955 took the cake. This June 2018 blog told the story.

2. LUCKY SOCKS AND UNLUCKY FROCKS: THE STRANGE HISTORY OF SKATING SUPERSTITIONS


To say that figure skaters are a superstitious bunch is the understatement of the century. This August 2018 blog looked at the sometimes unusual, sometimes downright hilarious superstitions of history's greatest figure skaters.

1. THE LOST YEARS: SKATING AND THE GREAT WAR


Released in August 2018, Skate Guard's second full-length feature took an in-depth look how figure skating survived the Great War, which ended one hundred years ago. From competitions and shows and skaters who served to the War's impact on skating around the world, this project touched on it all!

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html

Jump Combinations In Jakarta: A Quick History Of Skating In Indonesia


With average monthly temperatures of over twenty degrees Celsius year round, Indonesia is hardly a country many would associate with figure skating. Although the island nation in South Asia has yet to produce a competitor at any major senior ISU competition, its figure skating history is indeed an interesting one.

Skating was first introduced in Indonesia by Americans way back in August of 1955, when Holiday On Ice arrived to present a show in conjunction with the U.S. Department Of Commerce's Office Of International Trade Fair in Jakarta. Things didn't exactly run smoothly. An account from "The Milwaukee Journal, August 29, 1955 recorded, "The troupe arrived... with freezing unit, pipes, lights, costumes, a band and the skaters. For a time it seemed that some angry tropical god was determined to frustrate the plan to make a big cake of ice in Indonesia. A cable lowered a 20 ton freezing unit from a ship to a dock parted, and in the resulting crash the machinery was damaged. For a week technicians pawed over the complicated tangle of valves and pipes. Communist newspapers were scoffing and derogatory, while the pro-Western press was skeptical but hopeful. Then the technicians triumphed, and the much battered apparatus began to run. Twenty tons of crushed ice, the largest order in the history of the country, was dumped into the open air arena, where a foundation of pipes attached to a freezing unit had already been laid." Once the kinks got ironed out, the show ran for a month, drawing thousands of awestruck Indonesians who had never seen figure skating before in their lives. The tour returned in the sixties, performing as goodwill ambassadors for USIS: the United States Information Service.

In August of 1972, a ten thousand, seven hundred and sixty four square foot indoor rink opened in Jakarta. Built with Japanese technology and Indonesian capital, the Indonesian Skating Rink Center
cost contractors over two hundred million rupiahs - almost half a million dollars - to construct. Located on outskirts of Jakarta Senajan Sports Complex. the rink drew in large crowds and fostered a fascination with the sport. Tourists from neighbouring nations travelled to the facility to take to the ice but skating was regarded by many as a novelty, not a sport.

Indonesian senior men's champion Alberto Widjaja

In the nineties, the Sky Rink opened in Taman Anggrek Mall and became a mecca for South Asian skating enthusiasts. Soon other ice rinks followed: the BX Rink- Bintaro XChange in Banten and Garden Ice in Paris Van Java Mall in Bandung. The Federasi Ice Skating Indonesia joined the International Skating Union in 2013 and since then have fielded a handful of competitors on the ISU's Junior Grand Prix circuit.

Poster from the 2016 Indonesian National Championship

However, with only a few rinks and a lack of high level coaches, figure skating in Indonesia perhaps has a long way to go before it will compete with 'the big guns'. Fifty years ago, no one would have predicted Olympic and World Champions from China, Japan and Korea... so I wouldn't count out this new kid on the skating block one bit.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

The Most Important Auction In Figure Skating History

Photo courtesy Dick Button

If you're an avid reader of this blog, I think it's safe to say that you have an interest in figure skating history! On January 25 and 26, 2019, you could have a chance to own several very rare pieces of figure skating art and memorabilia in the bidding war to end all bidding wars. Brunk Auctions has announced the sale of The Dick Button Skating Collection of Important Paintings, Posters, Folk Art and Figure Skating Memorabilia. The carefully curated private collection will be auctioned off at Brunk Auctions' Asheville, North Carolina location. Those who can't attend in person can do absentee or phone bids or use BA Live, Brunk Auctions' online bidding platform.

Delft title given to Dick Button by Cécile 'Baby' (Mendelssohn Bartholdy) Grafström in 1947 from The Dick Button Skating Collection of Important Paintings, Posters, Folk Art and Figure Skating Memorabilia

Olympic Gold Medallist Dick Button began collecting skating art, antiques and curiosities during his competitive career. He explained, "The 1947 World Championships were held in Stockholm, Sweden, where I came in second. There Gillis Grafström's wife Baby and Ulrich Salchow each gave me something. Baby gave me an eighteenth century Delft tile of a skater, which is up for sale, but Salchow gave me a trophy he had won saying he did not want me to go away with out a trophy. I have given it away and it is now a permanent trophy always to be given away to someone. The person who was given it had to promise they would give it away too! That is not for sale." The rest of the Grafström's collection ended up at the World Figure Skating Museum in Colorado Springs and the legendary trophy Dick described was passed down through the generations.

Emil Cardinaux's "Palace Hotel/St. Moritz in Switzerland" (1920) from The Dick Button Skating Collection of Important Paintings, Posters, Folk Art and Figure Skating Memorabilia

Michelle Parparian, Brunk Auctions' Director of Marketing shared, "Highlights of the works up for auction include a panoramic work by the important French-American artist Régis François Gignoux from 1854 of 'Snow Storm Threatening',  an almost five foot long ice skating scene; an 1875 Philadelphia 'Skating on the Schuylkill' by the rare American artist William Willcox, showing 113 highly detailed figure skaters on the ice;  important posters by Jules Chéret and [Henri de] Toulouse-Lautrec, among others; rare skating scenes by Currier & Ives; decorative art including a rare hooked rug of figure skaters; numerous rare and historic skates, even costumes worn by Mr. Button and an Olympic Torch he carried in 2002.  The collection is both highly personal and comprehensive and tells the story of both figure skating and its most important personality."

Early twentieth century hooked rug from The Dick Button Skating Collection of Important Paintings, Posters, Folk Art and Figure Skating Memorabilia

Other standouts up for auction include a nineteenth century painting of Jackson Haines, a pair of silver ice skates worn by Charlotte Oelschlägel, three of Belita's movie posters, a Charles Sabouret sculpture of Sonja Henie performing a LBI loop figure and a Fernand Fonssagrives sculpture of Peggy Fleming performing a layback spin. Dick told me, "Each piece has a character of its own. And was picked by me for that reason!"

Régis François Gignoux's "Snow Storm Threatening" (1854) from from The Dick Button Skating Collection of Important Paintings, Posters, Folk Art and Figure Skating Memorabilia

A full catalogue of all items available will be made available on Brunk Auctions' website on January 2, 2019. A digital catalogue is available now at https://www.brunkauctions.com/the-skating-collection-of-dick-button. Private viewings are available. For more information, you can call Nan Zander at (828) 254-6846 or e-mail info@brunkauctions.com.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here? Have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

A Short History Of Skating Stamps

Hungarian stamp issued in conjunction with the 1963 European Championships

Licking a stamp and putting it on an envelope... in the electronic world we live in today, to many it almost seems like a foreign concept. However, without the postal service figure skating never would have survived. Just think of all of the letters written by skaters all around the world; the competitions and shows that were organized and federations founded upon the written correspondence of those who have loved the sport.

Central African Republic stamp depicting John Curry at the 1976 Winter Olympic Games

An interesting footnote from skating history is the fact that many nations over the years have paid homage to skating by creating special postage stamp art issues. The first country ever to issue a skating stamp was Hungary back in 1925 and since then Canada, the United States, Germany, Japan, Russia, The Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, Albania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Norway, Poland, Czechsolovakia, Monaco and Austria have been among those countries who have followed suit.

Even some highly unlikely nations have issued ice skating stamps, among them the Dominican Republic and the Republic Of Burundi. The first Olympic (speed) skating stamp was issued by Germany in conjunction with the 1936 Winter Olympic Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. A figure skater didn't appear on an Olympic stamp until 1956.

Burundi stamp depicting a skater at the 1972 Winter Olympic Games

The heyday of skating stamps was really the fifties and sixties. Dr. Sidney Soanes, a skating judge from Leaside, Ontario, was one of the most enthusiastic stamp collectors in the skating community during this period. He regularly penned articles for "Skating" magazine detailing his latest finds. Kenneth Macdonald Beaumont, a 1920 Olympian who served as the President of the National Skating Association in the fifties and sixties, was also the founding President of the Great Britain Philatelic Society.

Eastern European countries and Russia were the 'leaders' in producing skating stamps. In 1955, the small mountainous Republic of San Marino produced one and a half million stamps of skaters, skiiers and bobsledders just in time for the 1956 Winter Olympic Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo - nearly one hundred and thirty times the country's population at the time. However, in his 1975 book "Topical Stamp Collecting", M.W. Martin noted that "the world's leader in skating stamps is Russia, who entered the 'skating stamps club' early in 1935, and has since issued them on seventeen different occasions."

Finnish and Japanese stamps depicting skaters at the 1977 European and World Championships

Curiously, skating's connection to stamp collecting actually predated the first skating stamp. Back in July of 1877, esteemed philatelist, author and (ironically) forgery expert William Dudley Atlee was convicted in Birmingham of embezzling money from the Moseley Skating Rink Company in England, a rink making outfit of which he was the secretary. He served twelve months in jail for his offence. As a result, in April 1879 at a meeting at the Trafalgar Hotel, the auditor of the company, Charles Timothy Starkey, proposed the dissolution and liquidation of the company's assets.

Austrian stamp commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the Wiener Eislaufverein

As in virtually every other artistic medium, stamps have preserved and represented many important moments in skating history. From Barbara Ann Scott's historic first gold medal win by a North American woman at the Olympics in St. Moritz in 1948 to the one hundredth anniversary of the Wiener Eislaufverein to a stamp issued by Slovenská Pošta in conjunction with the 2016 European Figure Skating Championships in Bratislava, 'there's a stamp for that'. So all of you figure skating history buffs out there looking for a new hobby... philately may just be it!

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

The 1957 World Figure Skating Championships

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

"Dear Mom and Dad, I arrived well in Colorado Springs. We were received by David Jenkins and the other American skaters. Then came a large crowd of cowboys, some on horseback, some in the most elegant carriages in the world. I immediately got a nice cowboy hat, which is excellent for me. Then we climbed into huge, red Cadillacs. The motorcade of twenty-five such wagons, led and closed by police cars, which sounded sirens traveling so that everyone looked up and cheered, drove us to the hotel. There we were immediately welcomed by a cowboy on a horse. He performed tricks with the lasso and caught me and Ina Bauer. Then four real Indians came and performed their war dances. Franz Ningel and I have a room with bathroom. I have figure practice every day from 5 o'clock in the morning to 7 o'clock and from 11.30 to 12 o'clock free skating. The food is great. Lots of grief from your cowboy Manfred." - Letter from Manfred Schnelldorfer to his parents, February 1957

Photos courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd

From February 26 to March 2, 1957, many of the best figure skaters in the world gathered at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs for the 1957 World Figure Skating Championships. A group of seventy eight skaters, officials, coaches and family members arrived in one group from Vienna, the site of the European Championships, via Zürich and New York City. They were greeted by members of the Canadian, American and Japanese teams, as well as members of the event's organizing committee, who all sported ten gallon hats, bolo ties and cowboy get-ups. Each visiting skater received a ten gallon hat of their own, and the women were given red roses. After a reception, the visitors were put in limousines and sent (with police escort) to the Broadmoor Hotel, where they were lasooed by trick roper and rider Montie Montana and treated to a ceremonial dance by members of a Ute tribe. Flags of fifteen countries installed by the local Chambers Of Commerce 'bedecked' the downtown streets of Colorado Springs as skaters toured the city in a parade of limousines and military bands on their way to City Hall, where Mayor Harry Blunt presented them all with honorary citizenships. And this was all before the event's grand opening!
Clipping courtesy "Skating" magazine

The first official event of the week-long Championships was the International Ball at the Broadmoor Hotel, a star-studded black-tie affair. Special guests included crooner Nelson Eddy, film legend Mary Pickford and Agnes Moorehead, who would go on to play Endora in the popular television series "Bewitched". Fresh pineapples were flown in from Hawaii for the 'Suprise Hawaiienne' and live lobsters were flown in from Maine for the 'Homard Victoria'. The champagne flowed freely and four years before Julia Child released "The Art Of French Cooking", a who's who of the figure skating world - and a few film stars to boot - enjoyed the finest of Parisian inspired cuisine. In the "Colorado Springs Gazette", Glad Morath reported, "A tropical effect was created in the main dining room by the use of a profusion of all-white flowers. Large bouquets featured each table, surrounded the wall sconces, and cascaded from the high crystal chandeliers. The air was laden with their fresh perfume... Skaters were seated according to the countries from which they came, and it was a great experience to watch the young, eager faces of youngsters from around the world, attending their first party in the United States. Following dinner, Johnny Heater, well known public address announcer from Los Angeles, introduced each of the contestants, who came to the stage in groups from the various countries. Each bowed or curtsied beautifully, according to the customs and manners of their respective homelands. Only about half the contestants speak English. The rest are dependent on interpreters."


Photos courtesy "Colorado Springs Gazette", held in Pikes Peak Library District’s Special Collections

Other social events included an official USFSA dinner, cocktail parties, a buffet supper and several tea parties. A dance, hosted by Harry Radix, had skaters and officials up half the night cutting up a rug to Guy Mitchell's "Singing The Blues".


Hank Beatty of Cleveland and Thayer Tutt of Colorado Springs played key roles in the organization of the competition. Carl W. Chamberlin had been general chairman of event, but he sadly passed away in the year leading up to the competition. The decision to award the World Championships to Colorado Springs was made at 1956 ISU Council in Cannes. ISU historian Benjamin T. Wright recalled, "It is difficult for us to imagine today... the importance of the action. Despite the post-War success of the North Americans, the Union and its Championships were still very much a European institution with a great majority (twenty out of twenty-seven) of the Members coming from the Nations. The breakthrough... would rapidly change the picture of competition throughout the World. At the time, the decision was unprecedented, since the Championships had been held in the United States only once twenty-seven years before in New York in 1930."

Montie Montana in the lobby of The Broadmoor. Photo courtesy Allison Scott.

For the first time since 1951, Japan was represented on the World stage. The National Skating Union of Japan sent a team of five skaters to Colorado Springs, including their diminutive twelve year old National Bronze Medallist Yuko Araki, who became something of a media darling. Japanese judges Haruo Konno and Shotaro Kobayashi made history as the first trial judges from Japan to participate in an ISU competition. Kobayashi went on to judge at the 1960 Winter Olympics; Konno at several World Championships. Members of the Japanese contingent in Colorado Springs filmed almost every minute of the competition for education purposes.


Photos courtesy "Colorado Springs Gazette", held in Pikes Peak Library District’s Special Collections

However, there were certainly some notable absences. Marianna and László Nagy, Eszter Jurek and Miklos Kucharowitz and Helga Zöllner were denied Visas by the U.S. Legation in Budapest just over a week prior to the start of the event. Soviet champs Lev Mikhailov, Elena Osipova, Nina and Stanislav Zhuk were also refused Visas as was the Czechoslovakian team, which included European medallists Karol Divín and Věra Suchánková and Zdeněk Doležal. The Cold War played a key a role in the U.S. State Department's decision not to grant entry Visas to skaters from behind the Iron Curtain. At the time, Soviet citizens were for instance excluded from visiting cities with populations less than one hundred thousand citizens and were barred from travelling near military installations, ports and coastlines. A map issued in 1957 called "U.S. Areas and Municipalities Closed or Open to Travel by Certain Soviet Citizens" showed parts of Colorado were off limits.





Clipping courtesy "Skating" magazine


In "Skating World" magazine Vancouver judge June White Pinkerton recalled, "The weather was delightful, ranging between 50 and 65 degrees during the day, and many suntans were plainly visible, having been acquired sitting around the outdoor pool... The common bond of a love of skating was so evident everywhere from the friendliness displayed by [all the skaters]. Even the language barrier had no effect on this, as we all extended a warmth of welcome to each other."

Yuko Araki and Junko Ueno, Manfred Schnelldorfer and June Markham and Courtney Jones. Photos courtesy "Skating" magazine.

How did things play out on the ice at this historic competition? Let's hop in the time machine and find out!

THE PAIRS COMPETITION

Sissy Schwarz and Kurt Oppelt had turned professional to join the Wiener Eisrevue and Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden had retired. Marianna and László Nagy and Věra Suchánková and Zdeněk Doležal's entry Visa issues meant that fourteen year old Marika Kilius and twenty year old Franz Ningel, two time World Roller Champions, were the only reigning World or European Medallists in attendance. After the withdrawal of Liesl Ellend and Konrad Lienert (an Austrian pair who placed fourth at Europeans) due to injury, there were only five teams remaining - the lowest number since 1933!


All but the West German judge, who voted for Kilius and Ningel, placed Toronto teenagers Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul first. Kilius and Ningel took the silver over teenagers Maria and Otto Jelinek by only one point... and it was that first place ordinal from the West German judge that ultimately cost the Jelinek's the silver as the French judge had tied the two pairs. Americans Nancy Rouillard and Ron Ludington placed fourth, one spot ahead of seventeen year old British Champions Joyce Coates and Anthony Holles.

Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul. Photo courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd.

Wagner and Paul were the only team who didn't fall at least once. Theresa Weld Blanchard recalled, "Wagner-Paul skated a fast and zippy program in championship form, giving an interesting succession of difficult moves, flowing from one to the other in a deceptively simple manner; their beautifully positioned spirals were well placed for contrast. Their ease, height and freedom of their lifts and jumps, their unison of body lean and keen, deep running edges made one quickly forget the disparity in height difference. They were brilliant."


THE ICE DANCE COMPETITION

The retirement of reigning World Champions Pamela Weight and Paul Thomas meant that new winners would be crowned in Colorado Springs. Nearly everyone expected British couples to sweep the podium as they had at the European Championships and the previous three Worlds. That's not exactly how things played out.

There were so many spectators for the compulsories that extra seats had to be placed on the ice, to the annoyance of the competitors. Eighteen year old magician's daughter June Markham and twenty three year old RAF airman and dressmaker Courtney Jones took a unanimous lead after the Foxtrot, European Waltz, Paso Doble and Argentine Tango. The surprise was that a Canadian couple, Geraldine Fenton and Bill McLachlan and an American couple, Sharon Mckenzie and Bert Wright, were second and third. Neither couple had even competed the year prior in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

As some couples seemed to nail one dance then bumble through another, there was considerable range in the judging. The Austrian judge had British dancers Barbara Thompson and Gerard Rigby third while Canadian judge Pierrette Devine gave them a 3.8 and had them tenth. They placed sixth in the compulsories.

June Markham and Courtney Jones in their ten gallon hats. Photo courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd.

With a foxtrot/blues/mambo free dance packed full of clever, lightning fast footwork, Markham and Jones became the new World Dance Champions. Fenton and McLachlan earned just six points less than the winner and made history as the first Canadian dance team to medal at the World Championships. McKenzie and Wright, just over two points behind Fenton and McLachlan, took the bronze. The teams in fourth through sixth were separated by only seven ordinal placings and less than five points. Canada's second entry, Toronto's Beverley Orr and Hugh Smith, placed eighth. They were last minute replacements for Lindis and Jeffery Johnston, who threw in the towel after being frustrated with their marks at the North American Championships. The fact that British couples hadn't swept the podium again gave hope to North American dancers but served as a great disappointment to the grand dame of British ice dance Gladys Hogg, who worked with all the top British teams.

Dance medallists in 1957

Lynn Copley-Graves recalled, "Six of the European couples free-danced to Douglas Walker's recordings; two even used the same introduction. Canadian and U.S. dancers had developed style. Several couples violated the rules with separations, lengthy spirals, and spins. The worst violation, though, was in continuing to use the music as background rather than skating with it. Two couples used concert music; one skated a pair. Instead of becoming 'old hat,' free dance increasingly challenged dancers. Only the top couples displayed consistently rhythmic free dancing, subtle knee action, and original moves."

THE WOMEN'S COMPETITION

Ingrid Wendl. Photo courtesy Bildarchiv Austria.

The retirement of Tenley Albright meant that seventeen year old Carol Heiss' defense of her World title might prove a little easier. Dressed in a black turtleneck dress, Heiss took a strong lead in the first figure and built upon it in the remaining five, amassing an impressive forty five point lead in the first phase of the competition. Sixteen year old Ingrid Wendl, the bronze medallist from the 1956 Worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, was second. Seventeen year old Hanna Eigel, the reigning European Champion, was third. Though the standard of the top women was very high, many of the rest of the skaters didn't perform their best in the school figures. Theresa Weld Blanchard lamented, "All the ladies seemed to be under extreme pressure, which showed up in the figures and likewise in the judges' marks. In the loops especially, there seemed to be general criticism about flying arms and free legs, with poor control and coordination. An occasional figure in this World competition was considered below our Fifth Test standard."

Photo courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd

Thirty two thousand spectators filled the Broadmoor World Arena for the women's free skate. Dressed in fire engine red chiffon with rhinestones, Carol Heiss skated to a medley of classical music including Adolphe Adam's "Giselle". She took an unusual slip on a spin but otherwise skated extremely well, landing Axels in both directions and a double Axel. She earned marks as high as 5.8 and 5.9 from two judges. Whereas Hanna Eigel skated quite well, Ingrid Wendl tumbled. The Austrian judge had her third in the free skate but the West German and American judges had her twelfth and thirteenth. The Swiss judge had Canada's Carole Jane Pachl third while the West German judge had her tenth. When the results were tallied, Heiss was ranked first, Eigel second, Wendl third, Pachl fourth and Claralynn Lewis of the United States fifth. Several of the skaters, including Great Britain's Erica Batchelor, complained the glare from the rink's bright lights made it difficult for them to retrace their figures.

Women's medallists in 1957

Joan Schenke, the American skater who placed seventh, wore blue rimmed glasses when she skated. Sonja Currie was originally named to the Canadian team but suffered an injury the summer prior while horseback riding. She was replaced by Margaret Crosland, who placed fourteenth, four spots behind Canada's other entry, Karen Dixon of the Glencoe Club. Carol Heiss' younger sister Nancy, an eleventh hour replacement for Tenley Albright, was eighth. Italy's Emma Giardini, who was sixteenth, was stopped during her free skate by the referee when the needle on her record jumped ahead and she tried to get the music attendant's attention to fix it. She was allowed to start her program from where the music skipped.

Two of the competition's most popular skaters didn't even place in the top ten. Twelve year old Yuko Araki placed twentieth of the twenty one competitors, but was a crowd favourite. She was a carbon copy of Tenley Albright, who had made a visit to Japan in 1953. Araki caught the eye of Edi Scholdan, who had her and her mother Yoritsuna flown over from Tokyo that summer to train at the Broadmoor. Fourteen year old Ina Bauer of West Germany, only nineteenth in figures, was ranked second on the scorecards of all but two judges in free skate. Canadian judge Sandy McKechnie actually had her ahead of Heiss. She wore a forget-me-not blue dress which contrasted with her red hair and brought down the house - not only with the difficulty of her program but with her artistry - and moved up to eleventh overall. Dennis Bird remarked, "Ina had beautiful form and her balance of her skates is a joy to behold. I am sure she has done a lot of ballet work. She obviously has the ability to transfer variations of music into a picturesque programme, which was full of surprise moves, and radiated health at its feminine best, with her lovely auburn hair and very pretty face."

Hanna Eigel, Carol Heiss and Ingrid Wendl

Heiss' win in Colorado Springs was one of the more decisive wins during this period. She had unanimous first place ordinals overall and more than ninety two points more than Eigel. After winning, she told Associated Press reporters, "I'm just as excited at winning this time as I was last year. The only thing I miss is my mother not being here. She would have enjoyed it so much."

THE MEN'S COMPETITION

There were seventeen entries from nine countries in the men's event in Colorado Springs. Notably missing were Hayes Alan Jenkins and Ronnie Robertson, the reigning gold and silver medallists from the 1956 Olympic Games and Worlds and Czechoslovakia's Karol Divín, who was considered a likely medal contender.

Donald Jackson

David Jenkins, a twenty year old pre-med student at Colorado College with a home ice advantage, was fighting off a cough. You wouldn't have known it if you saw his school figures, though. He amassed a unanimous thirty three point lead over fellow American Tim Brown, an eighteen year old junior at the University Of California. Nineteen year old pre-med student at the University of Toronto Charles Snelling placed third. A third American, Tom Moore, had been fourth after the first three figures. After the final three were skated, he found himself in fifth behind Austria's Norbert Felsinger.

Jenkins unanimously won the free skate and the gold medal with a program that balanced athleticism (he performed a triple loop) and musicality. His final score of one thousand, three hundred and thirty seven points was over sixty five points higher than his nearest challenger... so it wasn't even close. Snelling finished second in the free skate and Tim Brown, Alain Giletti of France and Donald Jackson all received third place ordinals in this phase of the event. Brown's lead over Snelling in the figures was enough for him to defeat Snelling overall by nearly twenty points, though the Canadian and French judges had the Canadian skater second. Giletti, Moore, Felsinger, Jackson, Robert Brewer, Alain Calmat and Michael Booker rounded out the top ten. The French newspaper "L'Équipe" quoted Giletti as saying, "I was robbed by gangsters. I skated as well as in Vienna and could not have done better." Theresa Weld Blanchard remarked, "As a whole, the men displayed much greater style and artistic and musical interpretation; their programs were more enjoyable to watch, often having an element of surprise and novelty that was almost completely lacking in the ladies' programs. They were carefully planned, fuller and more varied in content, particularly with respect to weaving the athletic highlights together into a unified composition by means of dance steps and flowing connecting moves."

Men's medallists in 1957
Sixteen year old Donald Jackson arrived in Colorado Springs alone as Otto Gold, his coach at the time, thought the cost of Jackson's parents paying his fare was too much for a competition that was about exposure and experience only. In his book "King Of Blades", George Gross recalled, "While practicing his jumps one day, Don was... happy to see to see his old part-time coach, Arnold Gerschwiler. Arnold had come to the championships only to observe - or so Don thought at first. That day Arnold asked him to continue jumping and commented on how he was doing. After several jumps Don would stop and start to skate off the ice. Arnold would ask to see just a few more jumps. Don, naive to say the least, was happy for the help he thought he was getting... After fifteen or twenty minutes [Sheldon Galbraith] came to Don and said it might be a good idea for him to stop for the day, go home, rest up for the competition. Arnold smiled weakly and quickly nodded approval before thanking Don and excusing himself. When they were alone... Sheldon mentioned to Don that Arnold had come over with a skater from England [Michael Booker] who was at about the same level as Don. He should be aware of that situation. Don protested in Arnold's defence at the time but was a little less sure of that protest later when he finished just one place ahead of Arnold's pupil."

THE AFTERMATH


David Jenkins, Theresa Weld Blanchard and Carol Heiss. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine, Bob McIntyre.

The final event of the Championships was the Awards Dinner at the Broadmoor Hotel, where competitors were presented with pins by ISU President Dr. James Koch and trophies by North American Champion Theresa Weld Blanchard. Thayer Tutt, Vice-President of the Broadmoor Hotel, was surprised with a silver tray and scroll signed by all of the competitors as a token of appreciation for the hospitality they received. It was presented by West Germany's Marika Kilius, Japan's Junko Ueno, Australia's William Claude Cherrell and Canada's Bill McLachlan... representatives of the four continents represented and four disciplines.

Bill McLachlan, Junko Ueno, Thayer Tutt, Marika Kilius and William Claude Cherrell. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine, Bob McIntyre.

In the days before the big winners at the World Championships embarked on exhibition tours together, the top competitors went their separate ways. David Jenkins returned to college and Carol Heiss was given the 'Sweetheart Crown' by Colonel James F. Pearsall of the 47th Infantry Regiment at Fort Carson, Colorado at a ceremony at The Broadmoor Hotel and invited to dine at the Infantry's base. Wagner and Paul were given a civil reception at the Mayor's Office in Toronto and given life membership with the Toronto Skating Club. They were popular stars of carnivals in both U.S. and Canada that spring. Markham and Jones performed for members of the Skating Club of New York and the general public at Rockefeller Center.

June Markham and Courtney Jones, Hanna Eigel, Carol Heiss and Ingrid Wendl, Marika Kilius and Franz Ningel, Charles Snelling, Tim Brown and David Jenkins, Maria and Otto Jelinek and Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul. Photos courtesy "Skating" magazine, Bob McIntyre.

Following the event, it was revealed that Adolf Rosdol, the Austrian Chairman of the ISU's Figure Skating Committee, had been involved a 'calculation office' scheme devised by another Austrian official, Hans Grünauer. Rosdol, who served as an Assistant Referee in Colorado Springs, instructed Austrian judges Walter Malek and Hans Meixner how to place each skater by giving signals. Despite the protestations of the Austrian federation, Rosdol was later suspended by the ISU. In 1977, his suspension was lifted by Jacques Favart. Incredibly and perhaps unsurprisingly, he was thereafter appointed as an international judge by the Austrian federation.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

From Stilt Skaters To Sun City: Show Skating In South Africa Under Apartheid


Back in November of 2015, we took a look at how competitive figure skating developed in South Africa and the role that apartheid played in limiting the early international development of amateur skaters in that country. The same factors ultimately applied to the growth of professional and show skating in that country but there were a couple of notable exceptions.


In 1936, British Open Professional Champions Sadie Cambridge and Albert Enders and World and European Medallist Daphne Walker gave an exhibition at the Empire Exhibition Rink in conjunction with the World's Fair in Johannesburg. Then in the early fifties, a former member of Sonja Henie's troupe named Bob White brought his show "Ice Frolics" to Johannesburg. Quoted in the August 2, 1954 edition of "The Courier-Mail" in Brisbane, he claimed, "A team of Zulus broke the ice up with sledgehammers in 120 minutes." White starred in the show with his wife and pairs partner Peggy. Other members of the forty skater cast included stilt skater Doel Johnson and ice ballerina Helen Hayes.

Left: Peggy and Bob White in "Ice Frolics"; Right: an advertisement for Marjorie Chase's "Jack And The Beanstalk On Ice" 

From the mid fifties to the early nineties, touring ice revues such as the Ice Capades occasionally made stops in South Africa. A skater named Marjorie Chase who emigrated the country after World War II produced a yearly Christmas ice pantomime at the Durban Ice Rink, which was called Ocean City. Chase's shows would have been largely modelled after the highly popular ice pantomimes produced by Claude Langdon and Tom Arnold in England during the fifties. South African skating history buff Irvine Green explained to me that on one occasion the pantomime toured to Bloemfontein, about four hundred miles west of Durban. "Where they got the equipment to produce ice I don't know," he said. "Probably locally. Perhaps using a deep gold mine working environment cooling type of idea. I can't imagine large scale ice producing systems were ten a penny back then... and probably mostly imported in those post-war days."

The Pro-Skate Company, headquartered in New York and owned jointly by Concert Productions International of Toronto, Leber/Kriebs and Pro-Skate International of New York, was directed by Elva Clairmont Oglanby, a name you most certainly are familiar with if you've read any of Toller Cranston's books or the John Curry biography, "Alone". In the early eighties, the company produced a touring circuit of professional competitions and exhibitions in Canada that included the likes of John Curry, Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Robin Cousins, Toller Cranston, Janet Lynn, Lynn Nightingale, Ron Shaver, Dianne de Leeuw and JoJo Starbuck.


In July 1985, the company made the bold move of staging a professional competition at the Sun City resort in Bophuthatswana, which housed a golf course occupied by baboons and warthogs. Bophuthatswana was a territory under South African control whose independence was recognized by the apartheid government but decried by the United Nations. Again, a who's who of professional figure skating made the trip, including Scott Hamilton, Toller Cranston, Elaine Zayak, David Santee, Norbert Schramm, Lisa Carey and Chris Harrison, Allen Schramm, Brian Pockar and Carol Fox and Richard Dalley. A number of skaters from South Africa also competed. In his book "Zero Tollerance", Cranston recalled, "The competition, if I'm to be absolutely fair, was between Scott Hamilton and me... That night I gave one of my best performances of recent years. I skated to 'Pagliacci' wearing the peacock costume. Since 'Pagliacci' has never failed and the peacock costume that has never fallen down, I was in rather good shape. Scott skated well also and won, but perhaps his Olympic gold medal was slightly shinier than my bronze. That didn't matter, because we'd all had a great time. The competition ended with a cocktail party in one of the many pavilions on the Sun City grounds." Irvine Green believed that the competition was "kept very hush-hush amongst 'those in the know' to stop international interference and 'attacks' on the foreign skaters."

Despite these fascinating efforts and others, the political climate in South Africa under apartheid simply kept many touring professional shows away. Irvine Green explained, "I am sure we 'missed out' on 'tank shows' due to sanctions. Anyone who had come here would immediately have fallen foul of international support for their shows because they had busted the sanctions on South Africa... We did of course see many international ice shows on TV, as ice skating was a very popular sport on TV in early times [though] TV only came to South Africa in 1975." However stifled by politics the development of professional skating in South Africa was, there's something absolutely delightful about picturing Toller Cranston in a peacock costume skating to "I, Pagliacci" in a territory as controversial as he was.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.