#Unearthed: Skating: The Fashionable Sport Of The Season


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's 'buried treasure' is an article from the 1880-81 issue of "Bretano's Monthly" extolling the virtues and health benefits of skating in New York City. It was penned by Henry Chadwick, a renowned English-born American sportswriter and historian.

"SKATING: THE FASHIONABLE SPORT OF THE SEASON" (HENRY CHADWICK)


Group of women preparing to go skating. Circa 1880-1881. Photo courtesy New York Public Library.

The winter of 1880 and 1881 promises to be quite an exceptional one in regard to the facilities which are to be provided for a full enjoyment of the invigorating and graceful exercise of skating, both as
regards the indoor exercise and the outdoor sport, inasmuch as the Manhattan Polo Association has arranged to transform their grand sporting field into a fashionable skating lake for the winter, and
already we have a very fashionable resort for roller skating at Mr. Greffen's Madison Avenue Rink, near 59th street, which is provided with a splendid asphalt floor surface for the use of the Plimpton roller skates, and with the accessories of music and a select and fashionable patronage, has already become an attractive place for the enjoyment of 'rinking,' as roller skating is called in fashionable circles in England.

There is an attraction about skating - whether on the ice or on an asphalt surface - which is exceeded by no other recreative exercise in vogue. In providing facilities for its enjoyment hitherto, resort has
been had to ice surfaces under cover, such as the artificial ice surface at Gilmore's Garden last winter and at the Madison Avenue ice-skating rink. But all these experiments have proved failures from the
excessive frequency of colds, resulting from standing or even skating in the chill-damp atmosphere of a covered ice rink. In fact, ice skating can only be enjoyed in the open air. Under cover it is dangerous to health; out of doors it is the very reverse. Now, with roller skating everything is different. In the covered roller-skating rink the exercise is at command in a pleasantly warm atmosphere, and nothing but the greatest carelessness can yield any injurious results in the way of catching cold. On the ice-covered lake also, the regular skating can be indulged in with an impunity from colds which is impossible in a covered rink where an ice surface is provided. For the great mass of the public, the park lakes afforded ample fields for skating, both in this city and in Brooklyn. Hitherto the Capitoline
Lake, in Brooklyn, and the Union Pond, in Williamsburgh, have been great family resorts for the skaters of those sections of the metropolis. But the Capitoline is no more, and until the Manhattan
Club enterprise started, we had no fashionable private skating lake at command in this city.

Looking at skating from a moral point of view, there are many excellent characteristics of the sport worthy of special commendation. It is very surprising to people who are thoughtless observers of
cause and effect in things about them, to see the general good humour which prevails on a well-ordered skating-lake. They cannot account for it. They do not see why skating should yield this peculiar result when kindred gatherings of people do not. The matter is easy of explanation. The philosophy of it is this: there is amoral medicine in the oxygenated air of a skating-lake which seems to purge the system of the ulcers and sores of ill-nature, uncharitableness, and bad temper, which so often break out in the public assemblages of city life. There is a wonderful power of exhilaration attendant upon breathing the pure oxygen of a winter atmosphere while engaged in so enjoyable a recreative exercise as skating; and one effect of this is to relieve us of those morbid affections resulting from a general neglect of healthy out-door exercise. Skating sends the blood to the
surface of the body in healthy circulation, and by rousing up the dormant functions of the skin, relieves the over-worked internal organs and gives new life and vigour to the general system. This naturally affects the mental power beneficially, and with the strong breath of restored health the ill-nature incident to a disordered body, and the bad feelings engendered by a neglected physique, disappear and are superseded by the natural good feelings of a healthy human being.

Sickly people - we do not mean actual invalids, but people who, by their neglect of proper exercise, bathing, and other essentials of health, are always indisposed - necessarily become sour-tempered and uncharitable. If you want to realize the truth of this theory, visit the park skating-lakes of New York or Brooklyn of a fine wintry afternoon, when good skating is at command, and watch the pleasant smile of the rosy-cheeked lass on skates, and listen to the gay laugh of the happy youth, and contrast these effects of the exercise with the pale countenance and serious manner of the over-housed girl, and the languid movements of the office-confined clerk, and you will then perceive what a gain it is to indulge in such healthy recreative exercise in the open air. The healthy condition of things above referred to, seems, too, to have an equal telling effect in developing the inherent honesty of man's nature. At any rate more honesty is found on a skating-pond than is found in other public assemblages. It is shown in this way: if a person picks up any lost article in a car or ferry-boat or on
the street, how rarely does it find its way to the lost owner! How does this work on a skating-pond? The answer is to be found in the innumerable instances of lost articles found on the ice being returned
to the office for the owners to call for. A sport which yields such healthy results as these, mentally and physically, is one to be heartily commended to family patronage.

The prominent cause of the delicate and sickly constitutions of the majority of our city ladies arises from their great neglect of outdoor exercise and recreation. Two-thirds of their lives are passed in the
artificial and poisonous atmosphere of their furnace-heated and poorly-ventilated apartments. The result is the prevention of that exhalation of carbon and inhalation of oxygen which are of such vital importance to the health of every human being. This requisite action of the lungs in the reception of the life-giving elements of the air we breathe; and the expulsion of the refuse carbon from the blood, is never better promoted than when the individual is engaged in the vigorous exercise of skating, and inhaling the oxygen of the pure, frosty air, at the same time bringing into activity every muscle of the body, thereby causing the blood to circulate healthily to the surface of the body, and giving life to the dormant functions of the skin.

Exercise, to be beneficial, should have the effect of increasing the insensible perspiration, for in the increase of the circulation of the blood to the surface of the body, and the consequent relief given to
the overworked functions of the lungs and bowels, lies the great benefit of exercise. It is from the lack of this circulation of the blood to the surface of the body that people unaccustomed to out door exercise take cold so readily. Those in whom the functions of the skin are in active play know not what a cold is, and hence the hardihood of those constantly in the open air and actively exercised, in comparison to those engaged in sedentary occupations, and who scarcely know what exercise is.

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 Royal Doulton With The Hand-Painted Periwinkles


'Skipping the dishes' may be the new in trend, but as I gulp down my coffee in my "I'd Rather Be Skating" mug from Chapters, I thought I'd take you through a trip through time to look at the history of skating dishware.

Hand-painted Holiday On Ice plate, 1956

Over the years, many of the world's top touring ice shows have produced plates as keepsakes for those in attendance who weren't quite satisfied with their program, pin and autographed photos. In 1982, the Ice Capades issued a plate featuring ice comedian Freddie Trenkler and in the forties and fifties, a Danish artist hand-painted a rare series of plates for Holiday On Ice.

Walt Disney's World On Ice mug, circa 1984

For those who preferred a beaker instead of a teacup from Hyacinth Bucket's collection of Royal Doulton with the hand-painted periwinkles, there was even a plastic Walt Disney's World On Ice mug! However, it hasn't just been ice show producers who have been making 'skate plates' over the years. In fact, some of the finest dinnerware companies in the world have tried their hand at it.

One of the oldest known 'skating plates' was an 1838 English plate depicting skaters from Charles Dickens' "The Pickwick Papers". It was once owned by Gladys McFerron, an enthusiastic collector of skating objets d'art from Seattle. In the fifties, Mrs. McFerron grew African violets in a one hundred year old potty on the coffee table in her living room!

Sarreguemines plates, circa 1919

The Sarreguemines line of earthenware and porcelain was founded by Nicolas-Henri Jacobi in 1790, but Messrs Utzchneider and Co. took possession of the firm's factory in 1800. One of the company's best customers was Napoleon I. Their dinnerware was frequently painted with transfer pictures, including multiple sets of plates based on the months of the year called "Les mois de l’année à la campagne". The two post-Great War "Janvier" plates pictured feature a man wearing old Dutch style skates pushing a woman on a sledge and a man skating in a pond in the forest, his arm outstretched in the Salutation pose. Utzchneider and Co. weren't the only company to produce dinnerware featuring skaters during the Victorian era. English, Dutch, Belgian and German pottery firms all got in the game as well.

1907 Royal Doulton skating plate 'Pryde Goeth Before A Fall'

Royal Doulton first showcased skaters on a rare rack plate in 1901. Designed by American illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, the plate depicted his Gibson girl 'B.A. Widow' sitting on a bench waiting for her partner to finish tying his skates. Introduced in 1907 and withdrawn in the roaring twenties, the famous British company's Skating series included fourteen different skating scenes with small variations. These scenes appeared on rack plates, trivets and jugs.

Left: Royal Copenhagen plate, 1989. Right: Bing & Grondahl plate, 1927. 

Founded in 1775 as the Royal Danish Porcelain Manufactory, the Royal Copenhagen company began producing an annual collectible Christmas plate in 1908. Its 1965 "Little Skaters" plate featured a young boy skating on a frosty morning. Its 1989 plate, entitled "The Old Skating Pond" featured a boy and girl clasping hands while skating in the forefront while an adult teaches a child to skate and a woman glides on the edge in the background. The pond they are skating on is in front of a windmill. However, Royal Copenhagen wasn't the first Danish company to produce a collectible Christmas plate featuring skaters. In 1927, Achton Friis designed a plate for the company called "Skating Couple".

Royal Doulton plate, 1977

Interestingly, the trend of producing collectible Christmas plates featuring skaters didn't entirely take off until the seventies. Numerous companies, including Coalport China, Metawa, Limoges, Avon and Corelle, produced plates featuring skaters during this period. Royal Doulton's 1977 Christmas plate, entitled "The Merriest Idea Ever", featured a happy twosome gliding merrily along a frozen lake in the forest surrounded by trees.

Rien Poortvliet plate, 1980

In 1980, Rien Poortvliet's "Winter" plate from its series of the Four Seasons featured a gnome skating at night on a frozen Dutch lake. The same year, Viletta China produced a limited edition series of Elke Sommer plates. The second from the series of "Weddings Around The World" was a plate called "Dutch Wedding" featuring a happy couple encircled by friends and family. All are wearing skates.

Elke Sommer plate "Dutch Wedding", 1980

Joseph Csatari, an American artist who worked with Norman Rockwell, began producing Grandparent plates in the early eighties. His 1981 creation, "The Skating Lesson", featured a Grandpa skating his delighted wife and grandchildren, giving the 'thumbs up' sign. Grandma got a turn to be "Skating Queen" in 1984, but was unfortunately relegated to rollers. Another charming plate that popped up in 1984 was Spode's "Skating" plate, one of six plates in its "Christmas Pastimes" series. In 1986, Furstenburg issued a collectible porcelain plate called "Ice Skaters In The Evening Sun", the first in its Romantic Winter Impressions collection. Two years later, the CFSA sold a collector's plate called "Shaky Beginnings" as a fundraiser. It featured young members of a Canskate class.

Mug and plate from Spode, 1996

Incolay Studios began producing a series of Roger Akers Christmas Cameos plates in 1990. Its 1991 plate, "Skaters At Twilight", features a Victorian couple skating on a frozen pond. In 1996, Spode also came out with a plate and mug as part of its Victorian Christmas series featuring a trio of Victorian era women leading the pack on a skating pond. It seems Victorian nostalgia was in full swing in collectors circles in the second coming of the gay nineties.

If the idea of a cupboard full of collectible dishes with skating scenes on them makes you a little anxious, consider this... just one of these historical plates could make a very interesting conversation piece. Failing that, they make a perfect serving dish for humble pie the next time a fellow skating fan's competition predictions prove dead wrong.

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.

You Can't Handle The Tooth: The Dr. Hulda Berger Story

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

I am sure this will come to no surprise to many of you, but I'm a huge "Murdoch Mysteries" fan. What can I say... I love me some Constable Crabtree. There's just something about bumbling Newfoundlanders in period costume, you know. It's funny, because one of the characters from that show, the delightful Dr. Julia Ogden (played by Hélène Joy) was the first person who came to mind when I stumbled upon the story of today's blog subject, a forward-thinking female doctor from the early twentieth century. In this case, she just happened to be one heck of a figure skater.

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 15, 1891, Hulda Emele Berger was the youngest of Frank and Edla (Samuelson) Berger's five children. Her parents, Swedish immigrants not exactly rolling in the money, had their hands full raising Hulda, her sisters Edla Jr., Nanda and Maria and her brother Frank Jr. Supplementing his work as an architectural sculptor and wood carver by teaching sculpting to high school students, Hulda's father wasn't a rich man, but he earned great admiration for his designs which adorned a number of Minnesota churches.

While Hulda's other brother apprenticed as an architect, Hulda had a pretty cultured upbringing for a female public school student in Minnesota growing up at the turn of the century. She studied English, mathematics, sciences and even appeared in a massive theatrical production called "Professor Napoleon" in 1910 which featured actors of all ages from both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Determined to find her own place in the world, Hulda earned her dental surgery degree at the University of Minnesota in 1914 and opened up her own Minneapolis practice with 'Dr. Hulda E. Berger' on the doorplate. She also found time to serve as Vice-President of the Alumni Association of the University Of Minnesota College Of Dentistry. Hulda's professional successes were even more impressive considering that at the time, there were only a few dozen female dental school graduates and several of the country's top dental colleges refused to even admit women.

After her father died and her brother took a job as a draftsman, married and moved out of the family home, Hulda, her three sisters and mother decided to pack it up and move east to Beechhurst, Queens, New York in 1921, where Hulda set up her own private dental practice at 18 East 48th Street in Manhattan. Her sisters took up jobs in the insurance field. Not long after arriving in New York, Hulda fell madly in love... with the ice. What little free time she had was spent practicing counters and brackets in peaceful quietude.She joined the Westchester County Figure Skating Club and found solace from her busy dental practice at the Playland rink in Rye. Soon, she was performing exhibitions regularly at the 181st Street Ice Palace in New York and outskating most of her male contemporaries.


In 1930, Hulda made the trip to Providence, Rhode Island to compete in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. At age thirty nine, she won the junior women's competition, then based on tests passed and not age. The following winter, at age forty she won the Hobbs and Allen trophies and the senior women's title at the Skating Club of Lake Placid's annual competition and the bronze medal behind Maribel Vinson and Edith Secord at the U.S. Championships in Boston. After skating well but just missing the podium at the 1931 North American Championships in Ottawa, many considered the good doctor a bona fide contender for the 1932 Winter Olympic team.

Hulda Berger practicing in New York with Marjorie Parker, Gladys Lamb and Jane Nicholson

That's not how things panned out. At those Olympic trials in December 1931 (now recognized as the 1932 U.S. Championships) Hulda placed dead last of the seven competitors. Despite again winning the senior women's event at the Lake Placid competition in January 1933, she again finished dead last, this time at the 1933 North American Championships at the Ice Club in New York City. After winning the bronze medal at the 1934 U.S. Championships in fours skating with Edna Harris and Roland and Arthur Janson, the doctor gracefully bowed out from the competitive arena.

Hulda Berger and her competitors at the 1932 U.S. Championships

That's not to say she stopped skating. Hulda gave exhibitions in pairs skating with James Burgess Green and skated a four with Roy P. Bunt and a Mr. and Mrs. A. Rosenberg to the delight of carnival audiences. She served as President of the Great Neck Figure Skating Club and as a USFSA national and international level judge. She even won an informal Waltzing competition at the Rye Figure Skating Club with partner William Nagle in March 1938 in front of some fourteen hundred spectators... at age forty seven.

Hulda Berger at the 1934 Middle Atlantic Championships

In 1944, Hulda moved from Beechhurst to the Hamptons - Sag Harbor to be exact. She passed away
suddenly on August 24, 1951 in Manhattan, New York just days after her sixtieth birthday of complications following surgery. She never married, instead devoting her life to the care of others and the wonderful, wacky world of figure skating.

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 1995 Canadian Figure Skating Championships

CFSA key chain, circa 1995

Jean Chrétien was Canada's Prime Minister and the price of gas was fifty four cents per litre. Thousands of Canadians tuned in to popular television series like "Road To Avonlea", "North Of 60" and "Due South". Children played with the new VTech computers Santa had just brought them for Christmas while parents sang along to Jann Arden's hit "Insensitive" on their commutes home from work.


From January 11 to 15, 1995, a who's who of Canadian figure skating gathered in Halifax, Nova Scotia to compete in the first Canadian Championships of a new quadrennial Olympic cycle. Defending champions Kurt Browning, Josée Chouinard and Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler - along with several other medal contenders - had turned professional, opening the door for a new wave of fresh faces to make a big splash in the senior ranks. The decision to hold the Championships in Halifax was announced on February 10, 1994 - just two days before the opening ceremonies at the Lillehammer Olympics. Lower bowl tickets were sold out by that October when "Skate The Dream" was held at the Metro Centre and the senior events proved to be standing room only. It was the first time since 1981 that the Nova Scotia capital would play host to Canadians and thanks to the efforts of the Nova Scotia Section and Halifax Skating Club, the event proved to be a tremendous success.

When all four Canadian entries placed dead last in their respective disciplines at Skate America at the 1994 Skate America competition in Pittsburgh, some reporters rather predictably began to fret about the prospects of Canadian skaters in the absence of Browning, Chouinard and Brasseur and Eisler. Officials and coaches didn't altogether take the bait. David Dore remarked honestly, "We're in the first season of a new four-year cycle leading to the '98 Olympic Games and that usually means a change of the guard. There's always some uncertainty when world medal contenders move on and a... title is up for grabs among young skaters. Our men are fine and dance is in very good shape. But pairs is struggling right now and we have several on the same level. Our ladies? It's difficult to figure out where they're at right now.'' Elvis Stojko's coach Doug Leigh added his two cents: "If I were a doctor and someone came to me with a medical problem, I wouldn't say: 'You're gonna die.' I'd say: 'We're going to try to make you better.' It's not like there's no talent out there.''


Speaking of talent, any reminiscence of the 1995 Canadian Championships would be remiss not to mention the inductions of many incredible members of the Canadian skating community to the CFSA's Hall Of Fame. The important contributions of Peter Mumford, Ralph McCreath, Norman V.S. Gregory, Marg and Bruce Hyland and Maria and Otto Jelinek were celebrated in Halifax, and in a moving speech Otto recalled his ties to the Atlantic Canadian city. When he was only ten years old he and Maria had arrived at Pier 21 with everything they owned stuffed into two suitcases after defecting from Czechoslovakia. On the way to Halifax to be inducted, Otto's plane had twice been diverted to Moncton due to foggy weather. He and Maria wouldn't have missed it for the world. After his speech, he told a reporter, "Forty years ago when we arrived in this country, we couldn't even speak English and didn't know a single person... This honour means a great deal to us."

At the event's opening press conference Mary Walsh, assuming her beloved Marg Delahunty character from "This Hour Has 22 Minutes", appeared dressed in a red, fur-trimmed skating dress reminiscent of Barbara Ann Scott. When it was her turn to ask a question, she joked, "Canadians have had to put up with a complete lack of violence on the ice this season. Can we look forward to any kneecapping, leg breakings or any fun at all during these championships?'' The Tonya/Nancy reference went over like a lead balloon and CFSA officials didn't know how to respond. Kris Wirtz broke a silence you could have cut with a knife by saying, "Skaters are nice people." Let's take a look back at how nice they were in Halifax!

THE NOVICE AND JUNIOR EVENTS

Fourteen year old Douglas Bourque of High River, Alberta expanded upon his lead after the short program to win the novice men's event. Second and third were fourteen year old Emanuel Sandhu and fifteen year old Ben Ferreira, both of whom would go on to be major players in Canadian men's skating as the decade progressed. Ferreira and Bourque had been eighth and ninth in novice men's the year prior. Quebec skaters Marie France Péloquin and Genevieve Coulombe and Sacha Blanchet took top honours in the novice women's and pairs events, while the novice dance title went to Tara Mettlewsky and Dylan Bullick. Rebecca Salisbury, David D'Cruz and Amanda Cotroneo and Mark Bradshaw, who had recently represented Canada at the World Junior Championships in Budapest, were the winners in the junior singles and dance competitions. Junior pairs winners Isabelle Coulombe and Bruno Marcotte had won a bronze medal at the World Juniors two years prior to Seoul, South Korea. Disappointingly, Sarah Schmidek - the 1994 novice women's champion - placed an unlucky thirteenth in her first year in junior. The number thirteen would prove even more unlucky in the senior men's event.

THE MEN'S COMPETITION

Twenty two year old Olympic Silver Medallist and World Champion Elvis Stojko ended up in the hospital after injuring his ankle in a freak practice accident the Tuesday prior to the men's competition. After landing a double Axel, he slipped and crashed into the boards. He told reporters, "I was landing the double Axel where I usually do it, about five feet from the boards, when I lost an edge and, all of sudden, the boards were coming towards me very quickly. The toe pick on the blade caught in the plastic covering on the boards, something had to take the weight of my body, which was still moving fast... and it was my knee and ankle that caught it. It didn't damage the long ligament, but the short (talofibular) one, and placed much stress on the Achilles tendon... I can handle pain -- a lot of it, in fact -- because skaters very often perform with parts of their bodies hurting from falls. I did the Canadian championships in '92 with a broken bone in my foot. But this injury goes beyond merely hurting. Because of it, my skate boot cuts off quite a bit of the power I have in that leg, which changes what I can try to do... I'll be competing if there's any way I can.''


On Friday the thirteenth, Elvis Stojko took to the ice to skate in the men's short program. After faltering on a triple Axel attempt early in his program, he doubled over in incredible pain and made the difficult decision to withdraw. His absence undoubtedly had an effect on the fourteen other competitors, all of whom likely thought they were only fighting for the silver or bronze at best. Brossard, Quebec's Sébastien Britten skated with verve and style to take the top spot on the leaderboard but he wasn't perfect technically. David Pelletier, who had previously won three medals as a junior in both singles and pairs, stole the show with one of the more difficult and clean skates of the evening, finishing a surprising second in his senior debut. Marcus Christensen, Ravi Walia, Jean-François Hébert and Andrew Smith rounded out the top six.

The men's free skate was a roller coaster, to say the very least. The judges ranked Sébastien Britten unanimously first, making him the first Canadian Champion since 1980 to win without a triple Axel in his repertoire. Though Britten landed two triple Lutzes, he made several other errors and undoubtedly benefited greatly from his superior skating skills and presentation. In the CTV broadcast of the competition, Debbi Wilkes remarked, "I think it's a late Christmas gift." Britten later recalled, 1995 was a very special event for the Britten family as my father's side of the family is from Nova Scotia. Just skating for my grandmother Agi (and a whole section full of family members) was a unique highlight! I was really nervous and wanting to skate my very best for all of them. When the chance of winning presented itself, the pressure I put on my shoulders was huge! What I will always remember the most (and I still have a photo of this moment on a wall in my house today) is the moment, at the boards on the ice, right after the free program, when I got to hug my grandmother... a moment I will keep alive in my heart and mind forever since she's gone now."

George Reinitz congratulating Sébastien Britten

Marcus Christensen and Ravi Walia moved up to take the silver and bronze and David Pelletier fell to fourth with a disappointing performance. Equally disappointing were the marks of Matthew Hall, the 1989 Canadian Bronze Medallist. Skating one of his best performances - and one of the few near-clean free skates in the event - Hall only moved up from tenth after the short to eighth overall. Inevitably, there were those who drew a parallel between the judge's marks and the fact he was very much out of the closet, sharing his story in "The Village Voice". At the time, things were a 'best kept a little more discreet.' Perhaps the result was in reality a result of erratic judging. After all, Matthew Smith - the only man to land a triple/triple combination - placed ninth.


Following the competition, Sébastien Britten complained to Rod Black about the temperature in the arena. "It's been like that all week and I don't want to make any excuses," he said. "But I think everyone suffered from that because we didn't see great performances in singles especially in all the categories. The ice was really, really soft and just too warm. You get off the ice and you're dying, so I think it had a bad effect on the skaters, I could say."

Sébastien Britten and Marcus Christensen were named to the World team, along with Elvis Stojko, who obtained a medical bye. The situation was far from unprecedented - in 1992, Kurt Browning had been named to the Olympic team under similar circumstances. The man pushed off the Albertville team as a result of his bye was Britten.

THE PAIRS COMPETITION

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler had turned professional, but were on hand in Halifax to present medals to the winners and cheer on their former competitors. Also notably absent from the pairs roster were Olympians Jamie Salé and Jason Turner. They had ended their partnership, with Salé opting to focus her attention on singles. Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz, the other medal-winning couple from the 1994 Canadians, were the obvious favourites in Halifax but when Kris got a nasty case of the flu and took an uncharacteristic tumble on a spin in the short program, it would have taken a miracle comeback that they just weren't up to in order to claim the gold. Their disappointment continued in the free skate, and they placed fifth overall.

Michelle Menzies and Jean-Michel Bombardier, silver medallists in 1993, took the lead in the short program, followed by 1990 Canadian junior champions Marie-Claude Savard-Gagnon and Luc Bradet. After a topsy turvy free skate filled with ordinal flips and multiple mistakes from the top couples, Menzies and Bombardier came out on top and Savard-Gagnon and Bradet dropped off the podium entirely. The silver and bronze medals went to Allison Gaylor and David Pelletier and Jodeyne Higgins and Sean Rice.

THE ICE DANCE COMPETITION

Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz were the only defending Champions in the senior ranks to return to defend their title. There was much interest in their decision to leave Josée Picard and Éric Gilles to train in Lake Arrowhead with Olympic Gold Medallists Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, who were then moreso professional competitors than coaches. Canadians working with Russians simply wasn't something that was really done in those days, but the improvements in Bourne and Kraatz's skating in three short months showed the proof was in the pudding. They weren't the only top dance couple to make changes that season. Jennifer Boyce and Michel Brunet moved to Calgary with coach Marilyn Symko. Janet Emerson and Steve Kavanagh of Toronto began working with choreographer Anne Schelter, but during the off-season she underwent knee surgery and Steve got pneumonia.

The changes of all three teams reflected in their dancing, but after the Rhumba and Argentine Tango compulsories, Bourne and Kraatz, Boyce and Brunet and Emerson and Kavanagh were predictably one-two-three - a result that remained the same through the Quickstep original dance and free dance. Interestingly, Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon competed against each other, with then-partners Tomas Morbacher and Chantal Lefebvre. By the following season, Lefebvre would be teamed up with Michel Brunet and Dubreuil and Lauzon would be a duo. In Halifax, Dubreuil and Morbacher placed fourth; Lefebvre and Lauzon fifth. Sixth was a young Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe.

THE WOMEN'S COMPETITION


Netty Kim. Photo courtesy Toronto Public Library, from Toronto Star Photographic Archive. Reproduced for educational purposes under license permission.

Josée Chouinard was commentating for television in French, Karen Preston was touring as Snow White and Tanya Bingert had opted to call it a day. Susan Humphreys would have been the favourite had she not injured her back, allowing her little time to train triples in the months leading up to Canadians. The women's field in Halifax was wide open and with two spots at the World Championships up for grabs, it was anyone's guess how things might play out.

Eighteen year old Netty Kim of Toronto was the unlikely winner of the women's short program, besting Jennifer Robinson and Susan Humphreys. A long-time student of Bob Emerson who was forced to withdraw from the 1993 World Junior Championships in Seoul, South Korea due to torn ankle ligaments, Kim had placed only seventh at the 1994 Canadians in Edmonton. She had taken time away from skating, but after some reflection decided to return. Her father Young-Sang Kim ran a Toronto convenience store with his father and brother where Netty and her sister worked part-time.


Disappointing free skating performances kept potential medal contenders Jamie Salé and Angela Derochie off the podium and Susan Humphreys in third. Netty Kim and Jennifer Robinson rose to the occasion, taking the two spots on the World team. Netty's win was a historic one. She was the first Asian Canadian woman in history to win a Canadian senior title in any discipline. Following the event, Torontonians taped homemade signs and newspaper clippings to the front-door of Netty Kim's family's convenience store. Strangers even sent flowers. Though she was ultimately unable to make it out of the qualifying rounds at the Worlds that followed in Birmingham, Netty's win in Halifax was a very special one indeed.


Thanks to a generous donation of VHS tapes by Skate Guard reader Maureen, you can take a trip back in time and rewatch highlights of the 1995 Canadian Championships in digitized video form. The YouTube playlist, which includes all of the medal-winning free skates from the senior events, the entire Parade Of Champions and several other performances of note, can be found above or at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6c_NN6KdCfJApDU_s8sS8oQNMdY1Jc4Y.

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.

Rockers And Risks: The Tim Brown Story

Jean Robinson and Tim Brown

The son of Louis and Elizabeth (Willson) Brown, Timothy Tuttle Brown was born July 24, 1938 in Loup City, Nebraska - a small town with a population of around fifteen hundred. Tim's father was a public school teacher turned military man. His latter occupation kept the family continuously on the move. In fact, Tim and his older brother Willson were carted around from Sidney City, Nebraska to Spokane, Washington to Baltimore, Maryland and Los Angeles, California. As teachers and friends came and went, the familiar air of the ice rink quickly became the one constant in young Tim's life.

After defeating Baltimore training mate Peter Pender to win the novice men's title at the 1952 U.S. Championships in Colorado Springs, Tim began training under Eugen Mikeler in California, who coached him to the 1954 U.S. junior men's title in his then home base of Los Angeles. Relocating yet again to Colorado Springs, Tim became a fixture at the Broadmoor Skating Club in Colorado Springs, taking from Edi Scholdan and training alongside Hayes and David Jenkins. Under Scholdan's tutelage, Tim earned a trio of medals at the 1957 World, North American and U.S. Championships.

David Jenkins, Donald Jackson and Tim Brown at the 1959 World Championships in Colorado Springs

Throughout his entire career, Tim was accurately labelled as an intellectual and a specialist in school figures. He actually led after the figures at both the 1958 and 1959 World Championships, but frequently was overshadowed by his rivals in the free skate. A particularly dismal free skating performance at the 1958 World Championships in Paris almost cost him a silver medal. At that event, his lowest marks came from American judge Harold G. Storke, who had him in sixteenth place in that phase of the competition. France's Alain Giletti's lower points score allowed Tim to win the silver, though his ordinal placings were higher.

Charles Snelling, Tim Brown and David Jenkins. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

Though his often self-choreographed programs included novel footwork and choreography, Tim's frequent inconsistency when it came to jumps always seemed to place him behind his biggest rival both at home and internationally - training mate David Jenkins. Despite this, Tim still managed to amass five medals in singles and ice dancing (with partner Susan Sebo) at the U.S. Championships from 1957 to 1960, two North American medals, three World medals and an impressive fifth place finish at the 1960 Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley while struggling with injury.

Following the 1960 Olympics, rumours swirled on the East Coast that Tim had retired from competition. In actuality, he was busy training at Sutro's and the St. Moritz Ice Skating Club that summer. He even passed his bronze and silver dance tests. Yet, at the time his studies at the University Of California, Berkeley in zoology were taking much more of a priority in his life than his time at the rink, and his skating suffered.

At the 1961 U.S. Championships in Colorado Springs, Tim placed an uncharacteristically low third in the figures and delivered a less than stellar free skating performance peppered with small errors. By the end of the performance, it was quite apparent he was in fact running out of steam, but he had a trick up his sleeve. In her book "Indelible Tracings", Patricia Shelley Bushman noted, "On Tim's second split jump, he purposely landed off the ice. No one had ever ended a program by jumping off the ice and landing in the exit area. Tim kept going and headed into the locker room, with a nurse chasing after him." The USFSA later passed a rule that a skater must begin and end their program on the ice. It was dubbed 'the Tim Brown rule.'

Novel ending aside, Tim wasn't at all well at the 1961 U.S. Championships. A rheumatic fever, chest pains from a pre-existing heart condition coupled with the altitude in Colorado Springs and limited training caught up with him. In the locker room, he struggled to breathe and fainted. Luckily, an ambulance was parked outside the arena. Medical staff administered oxygen and he was revived. He finished third but skipped the awards ceremony. Doctors advised him not to risk the stresses of physical exertion and travel, and he left Colorado Springs without advising the USFSA as to his plans with regards to the North American and World Championships.  Ultimately, Tim announced that he wouldn't attend either event due to illness and the USFSA named Douglas Ramsay as his replacement. Tim's withdrawal saved his life, as Ramsay was of course among those who perished on Sabena Flight 548. Quoted in the February 16, 1961 issue of the "Oregon Statesman", Tim told the press, "They were all close friends. I've known some of them for ten years... I got a letter from Dudley [Richards], telling me he hoped he would see me when the plane took off. It is terrible for those killed and even more tragic for the relatives and friends who survive."


Though he entertained returning to competition in 1964, the Sabena Crash only strengthened Tim's resolve not to pursue competitive figure skating any further. He resumed his studies at University Of California, Berkeley, got his masters in zoology and later attended medical school. After briefly practicing medicine, he turned his attention to coaching, working with a young Peggy Fleming. In her book "The Long Program: Skating Toward Life's Victories", Peggy recalled, "After every lesson, he would insist that I write down what I had learned. He wanted to see what I took from the lesson: my progress as well as my mistakes and my analysis of them. Tim would even correct my spelling! It kind of makes sense for a guy who was so into technique and school figures. Although I thought it was an immense pain back then, I now realize that the act of writing something down makes an indelible mark in your brain. I actually wrote and drew out the designs of all of my moves, which is a technique I still use to this day in analyzing skaters on ABC."

In the seventies, Tim continued his work as a coach and choreographer, moonlighting as a concert pianist under the alias Jamie Catalpa. He also became involved in the early days of the Canada Ice Dance Theatre. Ron Vincent recalled, "Tim was, in some ways, responsible for my bringing Frank Nowosad to Victoria to coach. Meeting Frank for the first time in Edmonton, I remarked that I had seen a narrative competitive skating program at the Canadian Championships in London (in about 1972), and that it may have been a first. Frank immediately responded with the name of the skater, Karen Gropa and the choreographer, Tim Brown... A few years later when Tim joined us for the second workshop in Victoria, it was with full beard and long hair in protest of the Vietnam War; he was definitely counter-culture and anti-establishment (this included anti-ballet, which at times made co-existence difficult). He proved to be an exceptional choreographer. Some of his works composed in Victoria drew upon revolutionary heroes such as Federico Garcia Lorca upon whose poems he choreographed 'Night of the Seven Moons', and most had a literary point of departure. Tim and Clara Hare, an actor and adjudicator, perhaps because of their mutual interest in literature and its close ally, drama, had a particular affinity for working together." Tragically passing away at the age of fifty one on September 14, 1989 in San Francisco of complications of HIV/AIDS, Tim ironically shared a name with another American who in 2007 termed 'The Berlin Patient' who underwent a complicated stem cell procedure in Germany and became known as the first person to have been cured of the HIV virus.



There are many reasons why Tim's story hasn't received the attention it deserved. He skated in the shadow of the Jenkins brothers and Ronnie Robertson. He was a figures specialist at a time when athletic prowess was becoming de rigueur. He didn't get on that plane. He passed away as the result of an illness some in the figure skating world didn't want to acknowledge. Yet, the reality is that Tim offered something different to figure skating than the status quo: he was a risk-taker... and skating hasn't always been kind to its risk-takers.

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 U.S. Figure Skating Championships


The top news story was the FBI arrest of labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa. Thousands forked over sixty cents to see the hit film "Around The World In Eighty Days". Teenagers bopped to "Don't Knock The Rock" by Bill Haley and The Comets.



The hottest toys were the Atomic Missile Pedal Car and Captain Kangaroo Tasket Basket. If you were to believe "Everywoman's Magazine", you'd be a huge hit at your next pot luck with an absolutely terrifying 'Hot Dog Macaroni Aspic'.


The year was 1957 and to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the first U.S. Championships to be held in the state of California, the St. Moritz Ice Skating Club and the Skating Club of San Francisco joined forces from March 13 to 16 to host the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the recently renovated East Bay Iceland rink. 

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

As is still often the case at the beginning of a new four year Olympic cycle, a considerable number of the previous year's medallists had turned professional or retired. In fact, reigning U.S. Senior Champions Joan Zamboni and Roland Junso were the only winners from the previous year's Nationals who had returned to defend their title. 

An unusual feature of this competition was a special exhibition by members of the Japanese national team. Harry A. Sims recalled, "It was very interesting to see how far these young skaters had progressed under the handicap of their isolation from the normal skating world. They had picked up much of their knowledge from visiting G.I. skaters, also from the visits of Tenley, Hayes and Dick Button, and from many motion pictures. This charming group of skaters made many friends... and we enjoyed very much our visits with them."

Top: Bradley Lord, Ray and Ila Ray Hadley and Carol Heiss. Middle: Diana Jean Lapp, Nancy Rouillard and Ron Ludington, Gregory Kelley. Bottom: David Jenkins, Sharon McKenzie and Bert Wright, Claire O'Neill and J.J. Bejshak and Carol Joyce Wanek. Photos courtesy "Skating" magazine.

The biggest social 'to-do' of the week was the competitor's party, held at the Hotel Claremont where the officials were put up. A judge's dinner, also at the Claremont, and a private cocktail party at Henry F. Swift's home were also highlights. There was also a meeting of judges at the Shattuck Hotel, where there was great discussion about replacing the College Tango with the Canasta. In what little spare time they had, competitors went sightseeing at Sutro's, a seaside ice rink that also included a unique museum full of curiosities such as a life-size replica of da Vinci's "The Lord's Last Supper" and the personal belongings of some of P.T. Barnum's more famous circus performers. How did things play out Berkeley in 1957? Let's take a look back!

THE NOVICE AND JUNIOR COMPETITIONS

Ila Ray and Ray Hadley. Photo courtesy Joan Sherbloom Peterson.

Seattle's Ila Ray and Ray Hadley took the junior pairs title, the only victory in Berkeley by skaters from the West Coast in the novice or junior ranks. They were coached by their stepmother Linda Hart. It was very close between the top three teams, with the Hadley's taking two firsts, silver medallists Sharon Constable and John Hertz taking two and Margaret Jurmo and Roy Pringle one. The Hadley siblings had a mascot that accompanied them to Berkeley - white French toy poodle named Honeybee. Ray took ballet classes and Ila Ray was a member of her school's debate and drama clubs.

Fourteen year old Diana Lapp of Denver took top honours among the novice women, while sixteen year old Carol Joyce Wanek of the Skating Club of New York won the junior women's title. Both winners won in two-three splits of the judging panels; Wanek over Lynn Finnegan and Lapp over Brenda Joyce Farmer. Their leads in the compulsories was what helped them both win gold. Lapp was an eighth grade student that enjoyed painting, ballet and playing the piano. Wanek was a junior at Rhodes Preparatory School. She was an only child who collected sweaters and miniature toy animals from all around the word.

In Silver (Junior) Dance, Baltimore's Claire O'Neill and John 'J.J.' Bejshak were victorious over Margie Ackles and Howie Harrold despite the fact that their home rink had burned to the ground. Their free dance included the twizzle from the Argentine Tango. O'Neill was a high school senior who was absolutely obsessed with fashion and Bejshak was a freshman at the University Of Baltimore who hoped to get into advertising. He collected records suitable for skating.

Skating to a medley that included "La Traviata", seventeen year old Bradley Lord of Swampscott, Massachusetts bested a trio of California skaters - Jim Short, Lorin Caccamise and Don Mike Anthony - to win gold in the novice men's event. A month prior to the event, he'd accidentally left his skates on a bus. A thoughtful bus driver had kept them safe until he showed up to claim them. In his spare time, Lord enjoyed water color painting.

The novice men's champion, five foot tall, one hundred and ten pound Gregory Kelley was at twelve years old the youngest of the entries in his class. He was competing in his first U.S. Championships. The silver medallist in the novice men's event was Maribel Vinson Owen's young student Frank Carroll. Bruce Heiss, Carol's younger brother, placed fifth. Sixth and seventh were two young men who -like the winner - would later perish in the Sabena Crash, Bill Hickox and Douglas Ramsay. Kelley, the youngest child in his family, had never lost a competition he entered. He enjoyed playing tennis and swimming when he wasn't skating.

THE MEN'S COMPETITION


David Jenkins

With both Hayes Alan Jenkins and Ronnie Robertson out of the picture, the path to victory was clear for twenty year old David Jenkins, a pre-med student from Colorado Springs. As the reigning North American and World Champion, Jenkins was heavily favoured to win his first U.S. title in Berkeley. In the school figures, he defeated Tim Brown four judges to one, but was only able to amass an eight point lead. Jenkins unanimously won the free skate on his way to a gold medal and was the only man in the competition who attempted (and succeeded at) triple jumps. Tim Brown settled for silver, and Tom Moore moved ahead of Robert Lee Brewer of Alhambra, California to take the bronze.

THE WOMEN'S COMPETITION


Claralynn Lewis and Joan Schenke

On January 20, 1957 - Carol Heiss' seventeenth birthday - Tenley Albright announced her retirement from eligible competition. As Catherine Machado, the bronze medallist at the U.S. Championships the previous two years had also turned professional, Heiss found herself in an enviable position as she vied for her first U.S. title. Like David Jenkins, she entered the event as the reigning North American and World Champion... and like David Jenkins, she amassed a whopping lead in the school figures. She won the free skate and the gold medal in something of a landslide.


Heiss' free skate, set to Franz von Suppé's "The Beautiful Galatea", Adolphe Adam's "Giselle" and Gioachino Rossini's "La Gazza Ladra", earned her marks ranging from 9.4 to 9.9. No other skater earned a mark any higher than 9.3. The silver medal went to seventeen year old Joan Schenke of Tacoma and the bronze to nineteen year old Claralynn Lewis of Colorado Springs. Carol's younger sister Nancy placed fourth. Finishing out of the top four were Charlene Adams, Sherry Dorsey, Gladys Jacobs and Carol Keyes. To the disappointment of Maribel Vinson Owen, both of her daughters failed to qualify for the Nationals in Berkeley.

THE PAIRS AND ICE DANCE COMPETITIONS

Diana Lapp, Nancy Rouillard and Ron Ludington and Gregory Kelley. Photo courtesy Diana Lapp Green.

None of the senior pairs medallists from the 1956 U.S. Championships in Philadelphia made an appearance in Berkeley. In a wide open field, Nancy Rouillard of Stoneham, Massachusetts and Ron Ludington of Roxbury, Massachusetts took top honours, besting Mary J. Watson and John Jarmon and Anita Tefkin and James Barlow. Ron Ludington had only recently 'converted' from roller skating to the ice and had spent much of his time practicing between midnight and the early hours of the morning, when hockey games ended. He and Nancy's coach was Maribel Vinson Owen.

Left: Sharon McKenzie and Bert Wright. Right: Joan Zamboni and Roland Junso. Photos courtesy "Skating" magazine.

To the delight of the California audience, Bill Kipp's students Sharon McKenzie and Bert Wright - only fourth at the Nationals the year prior - pulled off an impressive upset in the Gold (Senior) Dance event, defeating Andree Anderson and Donald Jacoby, defending Champions Joan Zamboni and Ronald Junso and four time Champions Carmel and Edward Bodel. The Bodel's fifth place finish in the free dance was quite surprising.

McKenzie and Wright were the unanimous winners of the Three-Lobe Waltz, Blues, Paso Doble, Viennese Waltz and free dance. They performed the latter to a medley of foxtrot, blues and polka music. They were both competitive roller dancers. He was an accountant at the Richfield Oil Corporation; she had just left high school and found a job. Their win was a major factor in the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club winning the Bedell H. Harned Trophy for the club who earned the most points by their placements at Nationals. It was only the fourth time that the trophy had been won by a club from the West Coast.

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.0

A Champion Of Two Countries: The Edith Secord Story

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine, World Figure Skating Museum and Hall Of Fame.

Born September 4, 1896 in Brockville, Ontario, Edith Carol Finley had a rather transient childhood. Her father William Burton Finley, a respected photographer, travelled regularly with his work, carting around Edith, her mother Leona, sister Loretta, brother Emerson and Leona's three children from her first marriage with him most everywhere he went. By the time Edith was fifteen, she'd lived in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and the state of Washington. It was while living in the Canadian Prairies that Edith first learned to skate, taking lessons from famed professional skater Norval Baptie.

On Canada Day in Saskatoon in the year 1916, she married Daniel Frederick Secord, a direct descendant of Amboise Sicard, Sr. - one of the earliest French Huguenot settlers of New Rochelle in the seventeenth century. The young Canadian couple settled in Manhattan. Daniel worked as an executive for Rex Cole Electric supplies; Edith joined the prestigious Skating Club of New York. Quickly earning a reputation as one of the club's most talented female members, she made her rounds on the skating carnival circuit, performing a similar pairs act with Betty Westgate where the two women dressed as Spanish Grandees.

As her father resided in Ottawa, Edith also held a membership with the Minto Skating Club. In 1922, she finished third in the Canadian pairs competition with Douglas H. Nelles. In 1925, she won the Canadian fours title with C.R. Morphy, Marion MacDougall and H.R.T. Gill and the Minto Skating Club's Malynski Cup for women's skating. At the 1929 Canadian Championships, she won an informal Waltzing competition with Stewart Reburn.



Though she certainly had success competing at the Canadian Championships, Edith's greatest achievements and disappointments came when she decided to start representing America. From 1929 to 1931, she was runner-up in the senior women's competition at the U.S. Championships to Maribel Vinson. In 1929, she won the first ever U.S. dance title, skating with USFSA President Joseph Savage. Edith and Joseph also finished third in U.S. senior pairs that year and next. Edith would go on to win the U.S. Waltzing title three times, twice with Savage and once with Ferrier T. Martin. In 1931, she won the bronze medal in the women's competition at the North American Championships in Ottawa behind Constance Wilson and Elizabeth Fisher. At the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society's carnival in 1936, Edith joined forces with Nettie Prantell to win the Fourteenstep competition. It was one of very few instances of a similar pair winning an ice dance contest against non-similar pairs in those days. These, just a sampling of Edith's many successes during the late twenties and early thirties, spoke to her versatility and skill as a skater. Though she achieved great things competing for the U.S., the decision ultimately harmed her. In both 1928 and 1932, she earned the U.S. Olympic alternate position in women's singles but was excluded because of her Canadian citizenship. In her only appearance at the World Championships in 1930, Edith finished dead last in the pairs event with Savage.


Retiring from competitive skating in the mid thirties, Edith moved to a frame house on a hilltop on Osceola Avenue in Irvington, New York with her husband. Two of her dearest friends were Olympic Gold Medallists Andrée and Pierre Brunet. Though she never had any children of her own, she was regarded as one of the few USFSA national level dance judges of her era who really took a special interest in young people. She also was a regular on many Ardsley Park ponds, helping any young skater who showed an aptitude for skating. Skilled in the art of flower arranging, she gave exhibitions of dried and pressed flowers, ferns and grasses at several local public libraries. Also an avid horticulturist and gardener, she often took young children on nature walks through her woods, identifying the trees, flowers and mushrooms they'd see on their journeys.

In a January 9, 1939 interview with Herbert Allan for the "New York Post", Edith remarked, "A skater has to be almost at the top by the time he or she is sixteen to hope reach championship class. The youngsters are coming along so fast nowadays that competitors are considered old-timers at the age of twenty-five, when most other athletes are reaching their peak. I suppose that's because modern figure skating puts such a big premium on nimbleness and grace, which are the prerogatives of youth. It doesn't call for so much strength as other forms of athletics, although sturdy, muscular legs are necessary to achieve success in national competition... The skating cycle we are going through today stresses rhythm more than ever, and that's where youngsters are at their best. When sustained spirals, jumps and lifts were the thing, the smooth flow of movement wasn't so important, but now it's almost everything."

Edith Secord and Joseph Savage


Shortly before her husband's death in 1957, Edith sold her house and a small cottage on their property and moved down to a little grey house near the road. Widowed, Edith lived in this house alone until her death on December 23, 1964 in Tarrytown, New York. Her obituary from the December 29, 1964 issue of the "Daily News" of Tarrytown recalled, "As long as her health permitted she continued to skate for private pleasure. On a still wintery morning walking along Osceola Ave., it was lovely to catch a lilting tune from a record player, and come upon the tall figure, skating marvellously to soft music on the Havemeyer pond, alone in her special world."

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.