#Unearthed: A Letter From Little Cecilia


When you dig through skating history, you never know what you will unearth. In the spirit of cataloguing fascinating tales from skating history, #Unearthed is a once a month 'special occasion' on Skate Guard where fascinating writings by others that are of interest to skating history buffs are excavated, dusted off and shared for your reading pleasure. From forgotten fiction to long lost interviews to tales that have never been shared publicly, each #Unearthed is a fascinating journey through time. This month, we'll learn about the early career of Olympic Silver Medallist, World Champion and three time European Champion Cecilia Colledge through a letter purported to have been written by her at eleven years of age describing how she first became involved in the sport and her off-ice training regimen. The piece, printed by the United Press in conjunction with the 1932 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, is interesting in that the language and writing style is slightly advanced for an eleven year old... suggesting that perhaps it was written not by her, but by her mother. Whomever the author, it certainly offers a unique perspective on this fascinating star's early years.

Megan Taylor and Cecilia Colledge

"THE EARLY YEARS" (CECILIA OR MARGARET COLLEDGE)

Being a champion figure skater is not as nice sometimes as you may think.

Sometimes when I see the American girls at play up here in Lake Placid, I would like to join them. But right now I can't for I have to think about the world's championship which I have made my mind up to win. Of course, I don't practice and train all the time. I have some spare time, and I most of it I spend playing with dolls.

I started to skate when I was about seven years old about three and a half years ago. I was skating at the London Ice Club in 1928 when Sonja Henie, who was then and is now the world's champion figure skater, and [Maribel] Vinson, the American champion, saw me and said that if I were trained I might become a champion.

I skated all of 1928 and took the bronze medal. I skated at the Richmond Ice Rink in 1929 under the instruction of Phil Taylor, father of Megan Taylor, now British champion, who is here with me. Then I was placed under the tutorship of Jacques Gerschwiler, director of athletics at Lyceum Alpineum at Zwoz, Switzerland, two miles from St. Moritz.

I started working under him in Switzerland in 1930 and remained there until June. I skated at Hammersmith's in London all of that summer alone and then in December I again went to Switzerland under Mr. Gerschwiler and entered various competitions, winning three cups.

Returning to London, I won the silver medal and was third in the British championships. I trained hard and passed for the gold medal on April 22, 1931, at the age of ten years, with the highest mark ever attained by an English skater. I stopped skating on July 2 and went to Belgium for a long rest. Returning to London on September 9, I went into training for the Olympic trials, in which I finished second, after obtaining the highest marks in school figures. I came over to America in January, landing in New York on the 13th. I hope that will bring me good luck, I mean the 13th.


Mumsy and Mr. Gerschwiler came with me. My father, Dr. Lionel Colledge, a surgeon, and my brother Manie are in London.

You may want to know my daily schedule. I arise at 6:30 and take a cold shower. Then comes breakfast and I have it with Mumsy and my trainer. I am told just what to eat and not to eat.

Mr. Gerschwiler is very stern and I must do everything just so and when I don't - Well, I will not speak of that. Then I skate all morning under the direction of my trainer. Then comes lunch, under supervision of course, then I either skate again or dance. I love dolls and when I am skating Mumsy sits on the side lines and makes dresses for my dolls. I go to bed promptly at 8 o'clock every night.

My education? It goes right on. When I am home, I am taught privately and that and skating and a bit of dancing takes up all my time.



Do I like America? Very much indeed and everyone is very kind to me.

I love your American songs; the one I like best of all is the one that says, 'Ninety-nine out of a hundred want to be kissed. Why don't you?' It is wonderful to skate to it.

I am here with Megan Taylor, representing Great Britain, and we are going to do our best, and as you would say, then some. Wish us luck.

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