Riding The Rails With Skating Royalty

Photo courtesy National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress

In 1804, British Member of Parliament and lawyer Christopher Hely-Hutchinson drew a great crowd of admirers on the banks of the Serpentine River at Hyde Park in London. The London papers raved, "[He] sported an elegant person, and was much admired, both for his agility, and the style in which he executed the graceful figure of the 'detour a la mode'. An unnamed "fashionable gentleman" who joined Hely-Hutchinson performed "his figure to advantage, in describing a heart". Only months prior to the frost that drew Londoners out on the ice that year, the first recorded steam-hauled railway journey took place in Wales. 

The brilliant Emm Gryner's cover of Ozzy Osbourne's song "Crazy Train"

Until and even after commercial flights became 'the norm', railway travel was an often an essential means of transportation for skaters, judges and instructors around the world. Today, we'll explore seven  stories of skaters and trains - some of them very sad and others quite funny!

ALL ABOARD THE SKATE TRAIN


By World War II, taking a train to the famous Swiss skating resorts was old hat in Europe. The first American 'skate train' (modelled after the famous ski trains to Vermont and New Hampshire) left Grand Central Station in New York City on January 25, 1941 bound for Hatch Lake in Woodrow, Connecticut. Those who took the trip, mostly members of the Skating Club of New York, built log fires and had a "gay skating carnival." Ironically, later on in the War the ski trains from Boston to New England's resorts were cancelled due to bans on pleasure driving. Many skiers learned the Waltz and Tenstep at the Skating Club of Boston.

THE SAD FATE OF ICY SMITH

Icy Smith

John Frederick James 'Icy' Smith was the son of a blacksmith; the thirteenth of fourteen children. He was well-known as one of Great Britain's top ice manufacturers in the forties and fifties. He owned an ice factory on the River Wear and the Whitley Bank rink and opened the Durham rink in 1940. That same year, he began his one year term as Mayor of Durham and Darlington. 

During World War II, Canadian Air Force members stationed in the Durham area played hockey at Icy's rink. They weren't just any hockey players either - they were Boston Bruins members Milt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer and Corky Dumart. Because of the need to keep the whereabouts of allied forces under wraps, Icy was never able to advertise their exciting demonstrations. 

After the War, Icy constructed the Riverside rink from one of the few materials readily available - coffin wood! An enthusiastic skater himself, he passed the National Skating Association's Bronze Dance Test at the age of sixty. 

On January 17, 1964, at the age of eighty, Icy was struck by a train and killed near the West Jesmond railway station on the North Tyneside line in Newcastle. The January 18, 1964 issue of the "Newcastle Evening Chronicle" reported, "His body was found by a porter 400 yards north of the station on the stretch of line between Lyndhurst Avenue and Brentwood Avenue. No one saw him climbing the four-foot high palings separating the track from the road. No one saw him in the station. A police spokesman said: 'It is a complete mystery how he got there.'... Mr. Smith had disappeared from his home in Hillheads Road, Whitley Bay, hours before he was found dead."  A very sad report from the "Newcastle Journal" the following month confirmed that Icy died by misadventure, trying to cross the tracks because he might have seen a train he thought he was supposed to take. He was suffering from dementia at the time.

THE MONEY TRAIN

Had it not been for her father's success in the railway industry, perhaps Winifred 'Winnie' Tait never would lived the high life and gained membership to the exclusive Montreal Winter Club. Winnie's father, Thomas James Tait, achieved success as one of the most rich and powerful railway executives in both Canada and Australia in the early twentieth century. After serving as the manager of transportation with the Canadian Pacific Railway, he was appointed the chairman of the Commissioners of the Victorian Railways down under. It was at the Melbourne Glaciarium that Winnie first learned to skate. She went on to win a total of four medals at the Canadian Championships in fours skating, including gold in 1920 and 1921. She appeared in skating carnivals in Sherbrooke, Boston and New York with her good friend, fellow Canadian Champion Jeanne Chevalier. Winnie retired from skating after marrying John Wien Forney IV in 1925 and sadly died just ten years later in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick.

THE SAD FATE OF MRS. DE RIDDER


Simone de Ridder wasn't just any skating coach. She was the fifty one year old mother of 1948 Olympic Gold Medallist and two time World Champion Micheline Lannoy of Belgium and in her day, an excellent skater as well. She met her end in a bizarre incident on a Brussels bound train in Kitzingen, Germany in November of 1953. An article from the "Spokane Daily Chronicle" on November 18 of that year noted that "police sought a tall, thin man who was believed to have pushed Mrs. de Ridder from an international train before dawn yesterday after robbing her. The woman died without regaining consciousness. Hospital aides said she had suffered a skull fracture and internal injuries. The Kitzingen sttaion master told police that as the train rolled slowly through the yards he saw a woman clinging to a window ledge while a man tried to pry her grip loose. Trainmen found Mrs. de Rudder alongside the tracks." The saddest thing about it all? Lannoy was on her way to meet her mother at the time. A Yugolavian refugee named Stefan Matusic was charged with her murder. His defence? That he was acting under "secret orders" from British intelligence officers.

BARBARA ANN AND THE SWISS PORTER


Barbara Ann Scott and Sheldon Galbraith. Photo courtesy Library And Archives Of Canada.

Sheldon Galbraith, Barbara Ann Scott and her mother flew via London to Switzerland, where Barbara Ann was to compete in the 1947 European Championships. They made the mistake of not changing their money to Swiss francs and used almost all of their English currency to pay for Sheldon's lunch on the plane. When they arrived in Zürich to board the first of two trains to Davos, two Swiss passengers took pity on them and explained to the men at the station that they hadn't any money because they couldn't get their traveler's cheques cashed. When they switched trains, they had the awkward experience of being told off by the porter who thought them quite rude for not tipping him. In her book "Skate With Me", Barbara Ann recalled, "Then the conductor had to be dealt with. Fortunately he could speak English and he must have decided that we had fairly honest faces, for he accepted our promise to pay him at another time. Thus we reached Davos. We couldn't have done that, I suppose - travelled halfway across Switzerland in first-class compartments with no money - if I hadn't been a skating contestant, for everyone in Switzerland is interested in the skating - everyone except that porter, I guess. We've seen that same porter several times since then and have enjoyed tipping him well. Three of his front teeth are missing and when he gets the right tip he gives a great toothless grin and says, 'Yah, yah,' very cheerily. We like meeting him when we're not at a disadvantage."

COCA-COLA AND WHISKY

Jacqueline du Bief in Ice Capades, 1953

When Jacqueline du Bief decided to turn professional, she was inundated with offers to skate in shows in England and France. The offer she ultimately accepted came from an American - Ice Capades mogul John H. Harris. In her book "Thin Ice", she recalled, "He described his show to me, with all the ardour and blind love of a father-creator... The hours passed. J.H. Harris continued to talk - and every hour he picked up the telephone and called through to his secretary: 'Put back Mademoiselle du Bief's sleeping car ticket till the next train! The trains left, the hours went by and when at length - subjugated, groggy, my head buzzing with new names, figures, plans and imaginings - I signed my first contract with a trembling hand, it was 4 o'clock in the morning. Famished, we went down to the drug store on the corner and there we sealed our agreement with a hot dog and a Coca-Cola - and I caught my train." Though she'd become an Ice Capades principal, du Bief still had to adhere to the Ice Capades strict rules regarding train travel - not to be noisy or boisterous and to refrain from bringing alcohol of any kind on board. She recalled that cast members frequently played poker and Canasta on the train and got around the 'no booze on the train' rule by passing around whisky... in bottles of Coca-Cola!



OUT THE WINDOW AND THROUGH THE FIELD

Photo courtesy Dick Button

At the 1947 World Championships in Sweden, the train Dick Button, his father, Eileen Seigh and Gustave Lussi were taking to the Stockholms Allmänna Skridskoklubb broke down in the fields far from the outskirts of Stockholm. In his book "Dick Button On Skates", Button recalled, "Like characters out of a melodrama train robbery, we clambered out one of the windows in the baggage department and fled across a stubbly frozen field, ignoring the shouts of the other passengers. Fortunately, a truck [drove] into view as we reached a road. The driver had to jam on his brakes when we planted ourselves firmly to the middle of the road, with expressions on our faces that would have stopped clocks, if not trucks. We had come over five thousand miles for this competition and being run over by a truck was not to stop us now. The driver knew no English and we no Swedish, but by showing our skates and making with sign language, we convinced him it was urgent for us to reach Stockholm... We roared off at a speed that had my father holding on to his high fur hat, and Eileen clinging desperately to the rattling door as though their lives depended on it - which they did!" The American foursome arrived late and were initially told that Button was disqualified, but the mess was soon cleared up and he was allowed to compete. Dick won the silver medal behind Hans Gerschwiler; Eileen finished just off the podium in fourth.

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.

#Unearthed: Skating, Historical And Practical


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. Today's fascinating gem is a piece entitled "Skating, Historical And Practical" that first appeared in "The New Sporting Magazine" in February of 1860. Its British writer went by the pseudonym 'Hoary Frost', a name derived from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream".

"SKATING, HISTORICAL AND PRACTICAL" (HOARY FROST)

There is a trite old proverb that "it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good:" and in its pure and simple explanation, that adage has been fully verified in the recent severities of the present season. A north-east wind brought upon us with unexpected surprise, during the month of December, hard frosts, snow and bitter cold; the consequence was, that thousands of the poorer classes had to undergo much suffering, want, and deprivation.

Many hands were thrown out of work, more especially the masons and bricklayers; though for some of these there cannot be felt even the solace of public sympathy, on account of their ill-judged obstinacy, in regard to the 'nine hours' strike'; they will be looked upon, in a measure, as the authors of their own sufferings; when they might have had work, and might have provided for contingencies such as these, they refused to do it: now they are willing, stern old Frost interposes, as if to punish them for their contumacy. Other classes have more or less claim to sympathy at this season.

But to look at the other side of the question, and scan the immense advantage to the country and the people, which a few weeks' hard frost produces, the welcome it receives from the heavy-land farmer, the beneficial effect it works upon the land, and other minor advantages are extraordinary. To attempt enumerating the good that arises to the community at large, and to trades of various denominations, would be to discourse upon subjects foreign to our purpose. Let us, therefore, turn at once to the subject of the recreations of the people.

At this season of the year there is no out-of-door amusement so popular as skating, more especially in the metropolis; where from the skill of some of the performers, the art has attained a perfection which, it would seem, cannot be excelled. There is no place where it is so eagerly pursued, and so recklessly persevered in, spite of warnings and fatal catastrophes, as in London: in no other place are we so well provided with precautionary means for saving lives, and yet in no other city are there half so many fatal accidents.

It would appear that the art of skating was quite unknown to the ancients, as no notice of it can be discovered in the writings of the classical authors.

The earliest trace that can be found as to the discovery of the art, is somewhere about the year 1170; when it appears from the works of Fitzstephen, a monk who wrote temp Henry II., that the discovery of skating was then first made, through some young men going to sport upon the ice, and binding to the soles of their shoes, shin-bones of the legs of beasts; which which they found they could dart about the ice with the speed of a bird.

In the fifteenth century it appears to have arrived at some sort of perfection: for it is alluded to by Tasso in the "Gierusalemme Liberta", Canto XIV.

In Holland, and in some parts of America, skating is still used in another manner to that of a recreation. When the rivers, canals and lakes are frozen over, skating is resorted to, as the most agreeable and expeditious mode of travelling from place to place: and where the ice admits of it, very long journeys are sometimes performed on skates, and frequently by the poorer classes with merchandise upon their heads, such as baskets of eggs, poultry &c., these journeys are performed in Holland by the female portion of the community with equal skill to that of the males.

Cyclos, in his book on the "Art Of Skating," says "A Dutch woman, skating to market, will carry her baby and a basket of eggs forty miles of a morning; and in winter the Amsterdam market for country produce is mostly supplied by skaters."

All the Dutch country-women skate, the poorer classes as a useful, if not necessary, mode of communication with the nearest market-towns; and the superior classes as an agreeable exercise. It is only those who have been in Holland in winter, and seen the Dutch girls skate, that can imagine what a fascinating figure they cut. A pretty Dutch girl dressed in her usual neat and exquisitely clean attire, gliding gracefully upon her skates, now whirling to the right, now to the left, then backwards, forwards and round again; then darting along and bending her symmetrical form in such leaning positions as if she would kiss the frozen element, but in an instant recovering her position, or leaning to the other side; her graceful movements and pretty attitudes becoming more and more attractive as the rude wind from time to time ruffles her lily-white garments and displays "the prettiest ankles in the world."

In scenes such as these, among the "fairest of the fair", who can wonder at an English traveller speaking of them as "irresistable to human nature?"

Captain Clias, in his little work "On Gymnastics" states that, "In Friesland, thirty persons may sometimes be seen together on the ice: that is, fifteen young men with their mistresses, who, all holding each other by the hand, appear as they move along, like a vessel driven before the wind. Others are seated on a sledge fixed on two bars of wood faced with iron, and pushed on by one of the skaters. There are also boats ten or fifteen feet long, placed on large skates, and fitted up with masts and sails. The verility with which these boats are driven forward exceeds imagination: and it may be said they equal the rapid flight of a bird. They go three miles in less than a quarter of an hour."

And it appears that in Sweden and Norway, and on the shores of the Baltic, it is no uncommon practice with hunters of wild animals to conduct the chase on skates, when the haunts of the objects of their pursuit are in covers, skirting the margin of some frozen lake. In these adventures the hunters are sometimes threatened with savage attacks by wolves and other ferocious animals; when, such is the skill and dexterity of the skating hunter of those parts, that by actively turning himself about on the skates, when closely pursued, and then darting off at great speed, he saves his life. But it is seldom that the Norwegian hunter runs away from his prey, he rather prefers close quarters, and a brief but sharp attack: during which, a few dextrous stabs, or a well-directed shot from his carbine, generally finishes his victim.

In Canada the skating is remarkably good; there, too, various pursuits on the ice engage the attention of the people. The winters there are generally very severe, the ground being usually covered with snow from December to May. Business is frequently suspended, and the most animating scenes take place; outdoor games of all sorts are performed on the ice, and in these the people of all ranks indulge, with a spirit and energy such as adds greatly to the popularity of the neighbourhood and the encouragement in healthful recreation. Sledging, cricket, golf, bandy or hocky, trap-ball, dancing and other active amusements are kept up from day to day throughout the winter with unbating zeal.... "They sweep, on sounding skates, a thousand different ways, In circling poize swift as the winds."

And, during the season, the merriest of festivities are going forward of an evening; dances are of nightly occurrence; and parties are given, interchangeably, from house to house throughout the whole winter; so that life in Canada is by no means unenviable when the severities of frost have caused a stagnation to trade and mercantile pursuits.

Cyclos relates an amusing anecdote of an escape of a captive settler from the hands of the West Indian marauders through the aid of a pair of skates, which, under the ruse of showing his captors how to use, they permitted him to put them on, when he dashed away with lightning speed...

Thomas Hood illustration from "Hood's Own, Or, Laughter From Year To Year, Being A Further Collection Of His Wit", 1861

Before the English fens were drained and cultivated, travelling upon skates was much resorted to in this country; but within the last twenty years this graceful and independent mode of transit from place to place has been very rarely used - the drainage of low levels, and the absence of a severe frost following immediately upon a flood, having precluded the possibility for such a practice; added to which there are now so great facilities for travelling across those levels by railroad, that the old-fashioned custom is unnecessary. But previously to the railways, when roads became bad from frost or snow, a regular communication or ice-transport, was kept up between Whittlesea, Wisbeach, Chatteris, Ramsey, St. Ives, and March, to Peterborough; various productions used to be conveyed from villages and farmhouses to the towns and populous distrcts many miles distant, by means of sledges, and in some instances small boats placed on sledges; so that in the event of the ice breaking or a thaw suddenly setting in, the merchandise was safe from injury from wet; and sometimes on the return journey the boat was brought back by water with the sledge uppermost. At many of the places alluded to, in the fens, there used to races and sports, which were of a character to attract considerable attention, and immense numbers of peoples. At these performances prizes were given in the shape of money, coals, legs of mutton, great-coats, hats, shoes, skates, tea-kettles, &c., the intention being to provide a slight help to those classes who were thrown out of work through the severity of the frost.

In the year 1820 challenges were publicly advertised by some celebrated 'runners', to race with skates upon the ice with any man in England for 50 or 100 guineas. The most distinguished runners were Staplee, Egar, Perkins, Youngs, Gittam, and others.

Among the records of performances by those celebrated fen-skaters, we find that Perkins could always beat John Staplee for one mile, though the latter could run a mile in one minute and four seconds; and over a two-mile course he could always beat Perkins. Charles Staplee ran a match upon skates with Youngs for 5 guineas over a two-mile course, which was performed by the winner in five minutes and eight seconds.

It is also recorded that in 1838, two of these runners went from Ely to Cambridge and back, on their skates, in 2 hours and 36 minutes, the distance to and fro being 40 miles, and this on ice anything but smooth.

To perform feats such as these, a systematic and somewhat severe training is necessary, or to attempt such long rapid journeys might be attended with dangerous consequences. And it must not be lost sight of, that these men were trained to running rather than to any graceful performances on the ice. In fleetness, and in that only did they excel.

In the event of the present winter proving severe, a revival of some of these good old ice-sports and festivities would be very popular.

In London, during a severe winter, the greatest attraction to peer and scavenger, from Whitechapel to Belgravia, is skating on the Serpentine. Everybody goes to the parks, either to skate or slide, or to look on at those who do so. Old and young, papas and mammas, nursemaids and children, all linger on the banks of that far-famed field of science - the London skaters' practice board; and in severe weather, when the ice is pronounced "perfectly safe," the crowds that assemble in that locality are astonishing. No other amusement commands half so great an attraction, or is half so eagerly and energetically indulged in. The Londoners, proud of their fame as the most accomplished skaters in the land, are eager to maintain that character, and encourage so healthful and agreeable a recreation.

Among the thousands who gaze upon the gliding multitude, how few are aware that among that busy throng, all mixed together in a heterogeneous mass, might be selected characters of every denomination, from the most distinguished statesmen in the land to the most notorious pilferer of the metropolis; but so it is, and whilst mirth and good-nature prevail around, no one cares to think or know whether the Earl of Pomposity or Duke of Hauteur are performing a reel in the same circle side-by-side with an Old Bailey smasher, so long as there is scope for pleasure and merriment in the animated displays upon the ice. Peals of laughter ring among the throng, and are echoed from bank to bank, as ever and anon some awkward performer measures his length upon the ice, in his vain attempts to imitate the more accomplished skater. Let us pass on among the crowd, and our ears are everywhere greeted with "all hot! 'taters!" "mutton pies, all hot!" and "Here ye are, ladies and gentlemen, all hot and strong peppermint and ginger lozenges!" Then there are the skate proprietors, or those who have tables full of skates for sale or hire, and who never fail to ask every passing man or boy - "Try a pair on, sir?" "Some of all sorts, sir;"  "Rockers, sir;" "Just your size, sir;" and with such like persuasive arguments, it seems almost unkind to refuse to "try a pair on," and deposit half-a-sovereign with the proprietor as a guarantee for safely returning them.

But let a gentleman only walk along the banks of the river with a pair of skates or a suspicious-looking parcel under his arm, and he will be accosted at every ten or a dozen yards with "Put your skates on for you, sir?" "House to sit down in, sir!" (pointing to a small covered tent). "Good place to go on here, sir!" In short, he will get no peace until he submits to the operation of having his heels pierced with the gimlet of some frozen-out bricklayer, or other industrious mechanic, who probably has nothing else to depend on for the maintenance of himself and family during the inclemency of the season; but the few pence bestowed upon him by the skaters, for whom he provides the convenience of a chair and [gimlet] for the purposes aforesaid.

George du Maurier illustration for "Outing" magazine, 1888


When fairly equipped upon the ice, should the hapless skater glide into one of the thousand circles, which are swept and cleared for the reception of the evolutionists, he is soon accosted by the sweeper with a humble request that he will "give him a copper". All these, and a thousand other incidents, though simple in themselves, form matter of reflection to the thoughtful-minded in this great metropolis, during the "hard times" of a severe frost.

Having alluded with merited commendation to the ladies of Holland, in their capacity of skaters, it is impossible to pass over without a comment the English ladies who figure upon the ice in London. Happily, they are but very few. An English lady is out of her place when figuring publicly upon the Serpentine; and in these days of interminable crinoline, however exquisite the foot and ankle, or taper the leg encased in scarlet hoze, the ice in the public parks is no place for our wives and daughters. Let the ladies of other countries indulge to their hearts' content in such performances; but let our English ladies content themselves with parading the banks of such scenes, and looking on from thence; or if they wish to indulge in so harmless and healthful a recreation, let them do so in a place where the public eye is forbid to gaze: "Lest some censorious jester should exclaim, Behold a goddess on the crystal plane!"

In reference to the practical part of this elegant accomplishment, the best instruction is that obtained through watching the movements and performances of the most skilful skaters; and it seldom that such opportunities can be met with elsewhere than in the neighbourhood of large towns - a circumstance which probably accounts for the fact of townsmen being invariably so much better skaters than country gentlemen.

Skates are now so beautifully and perfectly made, that there needs not a word upon the subject - modern improvements having satisfied the desire of the most fastidious performer. A pair of skates is within the reach of all; and those who cannot afford new ones, can get them second-hand for a "mere song."

Beginners should bear in mind that is very necessary and important to keep the ankle stiff - that is, to prevent it from inclining inwards, whilst learning to skate; the whole length of the iron should be lifted, as the foot is raised, and so set down again.

To perform the backward motion, the skater should lean well forward; turning the toe of the right foot inwards and at the same time push himself backwards from that footing; then turn the left foot inwards in the same manner; and so on alternately right and left. Cyclos says that by this backward motion "great speed may be acquired, but it is not graceful, though it may facilitate more difficult evolutions."

Another backward movement is called treading the circle. This is performed by placing the feet in line one behind the other, the toe of the right to the heel of the left; then by leaning forward and slightly lifting one foot alternately, and setting it down again in its position behind the other, and so on repeating the motion without changing the relative positions of the feet, the skater will be propelled backwards in a circle inclining that towards which he leans. It must be remembered that the greater pressure must be made on the front foot, which also should rest on the outside edge; and the back foot on the inside. When this movement is made on a small circle, the lifting of the feet should very slight indeed.

Every tyro finds turning on the inside circle a very easy performance. It is the outside circle which puzzles him, because he fears to trust himself without a prop, which, on the inside circle, his inside leg affords him; whereas on the other, there is no prop: and in fact, none is required, the inclination of the body towards the centre, when in motion - or rather, the centrifugal force - saves him from falling; and he will find that the faster he goes, the more he may lean over.

Forward striking is that easy and juvenile performance on the inside edge. As the tyro requires confidence in this, he should dwell longer on his strokes, but never lift his leg too high, or throw it about ungracefully.

The outside Edge forwards. - Of this performance Cyclos says: "It is unquestionably the most graceful and elegant performance on skates. No one can claim any pretensions to be called a good skater, who is deficient in it." There is no doubt but all the most beautiful evolutions are but variations of the outside movement, forwards and backwards.

The Outside Roll is neither more nor less than the outside forwards. It consists of an outside semicircle on each foot alternately. The tyro should no strike out when practicing this graceful movement. He will find that, by merely lifting one foot at a time, and setting it down again, with a slight inclination of the body, it gives sufficient impetus. Let him learn to lift one foot and then the other alternately, cross it steadily over the other in front, and set it down, observing to dwell as long as may be on whichever foot is inside the circle, and as short a time as possible on the other. Do not bring the aft foot forward until the instant it is to be put down. Never carry the disengaged foot poised in the air in front of the other. Practice both circles alternately. The best-sized circle for practicing is from eight to ten feet diameter. The tyro should learn to make a complete outside circle, before commencing the more advanced accomplishment of rolling.

The Outside backwards. - This difficult movement is performed by resting as much as possible on the foot which happens to be nearest to the inside of the circle, that foot working on the outside edge of the iron, and at the same time try to lift the other altogether, which, with practice, may soon be performed; and when the skater is able to perform it easily and gracefully, he will be well-nigh master of the whole art of skating, and be able to twist and turn in every graceful evolution he can think of or invent.

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 1912 World Figure Skating Championships


His Majesty King George V was Great Britain's reigning monarch, "Alexander's Ragtime Band" played on gramophones and Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his team had just become the second group in history to reach The South Pole. 


The year was 1912 and much of Europe was suffering through an unseasonably cold winter. Dozens died of exposure in the Eastern part of Germany. In early February of that year, a forty-five year record low temperature was recorded in London. However bone-numbing, the subzero temperatures were optimal for skating enthusiasts.

The winter resorts of Switzerland were packed to the brim with a who's who of figure skating and on January 27 and 28 of that year, seven women took to the ice in Davos to vie for the seventh World Championship in women's figure skating, then styled as 'the ISU Championship for ladies'. At the time, it was a record number of entries for an international women's figure skating competition.

In 1952, Herbert G. Clarke recalled, "In those days it was not considered necessary to skate the compulsory figures on clean ice. The whole rink was open to the public until about 10:30 AM when a few chairs were placed on the ice to mark the space reserved for the Championship figures, and a few skaters, of which I was one, were asked to patrol the ice to see that the competitors were not obstructed by other skaters. I have never seen this happen since."

Zsófia Méray-Horváth

In the absence of Lili Kronberger who had won the event the previous four years, the favourite was Transylvanian born Zsófia Méray-Horváth, who had finished second to Kronberger the previous year in Vienna. However, for the first time since Madge Syers' retirement from the sport in 1908, British skaters had arrived to give the Continental women a run for their money. Méray-Horváth decisively won the school figures with first place marks from four of the five judges. British judge John Keiller Greig stood alone in placing the three British women competing - Dorothy Greenhough Smith, Gwendolyn Lycett and Phyllis (Squire) Johnson - ahead of the reigning World Silver Medallist. In the free skate, Méray-Horváth built upon what was already a firm lead. One of the two Swiss judges and Greig tied her for first with Greenhough Smith and the second Swiss judge gave the nod to Johnson but first place ordinals from the French and Austrian judges assured her a winning placement in both the free skate and overall. Greenhough Smith settled for silver, ahead of Johnson, Lycett, Germany's Grete Strasilla, Austria's Mizzi Wellenreiter and German born Ludovika (Eilers) Jakobsson. In conjunction with the event, an international competition for junior skaters was held in Davos with British skater Basil Williams (representing St. Moritz) taking top honours ahead of six other skaters hailing from Germany, Great Britain and France. There was also a waltzing contest, won by Daphne Wrinch and Herr H. Jensen. Arthur Cumming and Lady Cadogan were second; Gwendolyn Lycett and Louis Magnus third.

Competitors in the 1912 World Championships. Back: Fritz Kachler, Andor Szende, Basil Williams, Arthur Cumming, Ernest Worsley, Yngvar Bryn, Dunbar Poole, Harald Rooth. Front: Muriel Harrison, Mrs. Arthur Cadogan, Louise Lovett, Alexia Bryn. On ice: Werner Rittberger

On February 16 and 17, 1912, the newly constructed Manchester Ice Palace in England played host to the World Championships in men's and pairs skating. Though unable to attend, Irving Brokaw of  New York received an invitation to participate. This invitation marked the first time an American skater was offered a chance to compete at the World Championships and was significant in that at the time, the U.S. wasn't even a member of the ISU. Brokaw's invitation was likely based on his strong ties to Switzerland and his advocacy in bringing the Continental (or International) Style to America.

Judges at the 1912 World Championships in Manchester

To the delight of Austrian skating aficionados who had waited over ten years for one of their countrymen to reclaim the top spot on the World podium, Viennese engineer Fritz Kachler was unanimously first in figures. It didn't hurt that Germany's Werner Rittberger - the odds-on favourite entering the competition - struggled on his forward paragraph loop.

Fritz Kachler and Werner Rittberger

The February 23, 1912 issue of the "Reichspost" offered one of few accounts of the performances in the men's free skate. The newspaper recalled that Kachler "managed everything in his difficult program", that Arthur Cumming "is like his [role] model [Henning] Grenander, a complete acrobat on the ice], that Andor Szende "skated his way through a difficult program safely, but was less beautiful" and that Rooth "skated a very difficult program at a brisk pace."

Andor Szende

The results of the men's free skating were all over the place. French judge Louis Magnus (who placed Sweden's Harald Rooth first) and British judge Herbert Ramon Yglesias (who placed Germany's Werner Rittberger first)  were the only two judges not to tie at least two skaters for the lead in the free skating segment. Rittberger earned five first place ordinals, Rooth four, Hungary's Andor Szende and Austria's Fritz Kachler two apiece. In an era where nationalistic judging biases were the norm, none of the three British judges placed Great Britain's sole entry, 1908 Olympic Silver Medallist Arthur Cumming, any higher than fifth overall. When the marks were tallied up and the ordinals combined with the scores and factors, Kachler's sizable lead in the figures held up and he easily won his first World title ahead of Rittberger, Szende, Rooth, Cumming and Dunbar Poole, an Australian living in England and representing the Stockholms Allmanna Skridskoklubb in Sweden.

The Manchester Ice Palace

Ludovika and Walter Jakobsson, who'd won the 1911 World Championships by default in Vienna the previous year, faced considerable competition from no less than seven other pairs teams in Manchester... also a record number of entries at that point in time. The event proved to be an extremely close contest. One of the two British judges and the Swiss judge voted for Phyllis and James Johnson, the Hungarian and German judges for the Jakobsson's and the second British judge for Norwegians Alexia and Yngvar Bryn.

Phyllis and James Johnson practicing in Davos

Only one and a half ordinal placements separated first and second but the Johnson's managed to squeak out a win in their home country and defeat the reigning World Champions. Bryn's took bronze, ahead of Germany's Hedwig and Hugo Winzer, France's Anita del Monte and Louis Magnus and three British teams who were clearly out of their element. It's interesting to note that Magnus judged both the men's event in Manchester and women's event in Davos but took the ice to be judged by his peers in the pairs event... not an uncommon practice back in those days.


When Fritz Kachler returned to Vienna, he was met at the railway station by well-wishers from the Cottage Eislauf Verein and fêted at an evening reception at his home club's hall. Less than five years later, the Manchester Ice Palace was temporarily closed and used to manufacture observation balloons during The Great War... and less than two months after the Bryn's won Norway's first medal in pairs skating at the World Championships, Wilhelm and Selma Henie welcomed their daughter Sonja to the 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.

The Best Short Program Skaters In The World

Compulsory connected program, original program, technical program... The short program has had many names since it was first introduced by the ISU for pairs at the World Championships in 1964. The short program for singles was first contested at the World Championships nearly a decade later in 1973.

In the first two blogs in this series on The Best Short Program skaters we looked at all of the winners of the short program at the European, Canadian and U.S. Championships. Today we'll take a quick look at the winners of the short program at the World Championships each year... and some interesting takeaways. One note: a '*' denotes that a skater or couple also won the overall title that year.

Year

Men's

Women's

Pairs

1964

(none)

(none)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov

1965

(none)

(none)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1966

(none)

(none)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1967

(none)

(none)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1968

(none)

(none)

Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov*

1969

(none)

(none)

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov*

1970

(none)

(none)

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov*

1971

(none)

(none)

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov*

1972

(none)

(none)

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov*

1973

Toller Cranston

Karen Magnussen*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1974

Toller Cranston

Christine Errath*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1975

Yuri Ovchinnikov

Dianne de Leeuw*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1976

Toller Cranston

Dorothy Hamill*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1977

Jan Hoffmann

Linda Fratianne*

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1978

Jan Hoffmann

Linda Fratianne

Irina Rodnina and Aleksandr Zaitsev*

1979

Vladimir Kovalev*

Linda Fratianne*

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1980

Robin Cousins

Denise Biellmann

Marina Cherkasova and Sergei Shakrai*

1981

Scott Hamilton*

Katarina Witt

Irina Vorobieva and Igor Livoski*

1982

Scott Hamilton*

Katarina Witt

Sabine Baeß and Tassilo Thierbach*

1983

Scott Hamilton*

Katarina Witt

Sabine Baeß and Tassilo Thierbach

1984

Scott Hamilton*

Katarina Witt*

Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev

1985

Alexandr Fadeev*

Katarina Witt*

Larisa Selezneva and Oleg Makarov

1986

Brian Orser

Debi Thomas*

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov*

1987

Brian Orser*

Katarina Witt*

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov*

1988

Brian Boitano*

Debi Thomas

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov

1989

Kurt Browning*

Midori Ito*

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov*

1990

Viktor Petrenko

Midori Ito

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov*

1991

Viktor Petrenko

Kristi Yamaguchi*

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler

1992

Viktor Petrenko*

Kristi Yamaguchi*

Natalia Mishkutenok and Artur Dmitriev*

1993

Kurt Browning*

Nancy Kerrigan

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler*

1994

Elvis Stojko*

Yuka Sato*

Evgenia Shishkova and Vadim Naumov*

1995

Todd Eldredge

Nicole Bobek

Radka Kovaříková and René Novotný*

1996

Ilia Kulik

Michelle Kwan*

Mandy Wötzel and Ingo Steuer

1997

Alexei Urmanov

Tara Lipinski*

Mandy Wötzel and Ingo Steuer*

1998

Alexei Yagudin*

Michelle Kwan*

Jenni Meno and Todd Sand

1999

Evgeni Plushenko

Maria Butyrskaya*

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze*

2000

Alexei Yagudin*

Maria Butyrskaya

Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao

2001

Evgeni Plushenko*

Irina Slutskaya

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze

2002

Alexei Yagudin*

Irina Slutskaya*

Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao*

2003

Evgeni Plushenko*

Michelle Kwan*

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin

2004

Evgeni Plushenko*

Sasha Cohen

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin*

2005

Stéphane Lambiel*

Irina Slutskaya*

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin*

2006

Brian Joubert

Sasha Cohen

Dan and Hao Zhang

2007

Brian Joubert*

Yuna Kim

Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao*

2008

Jeffrey Buttle*

Carolina Kostner

Dan and Hao Zhang

2009

Brian Joubert

Yuna Kim*

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy*

2010

Daisuke Takahashi*

Mirai Nagasu

Qing Pang and Jian Tong

2011

Patrick Chan*

Yuna Kim

Qing Pang and Jian Tong

2012

Patrick Chan*

Alena Leonova

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy*

2013

Patrick Chan*

Yuna Kim*

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov*

2014

Tatsuki Machida

Mao Asada*

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy*

2015

Yuzuru Hanyu

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2016

Yuzuru Hanyu

Gracie Gold

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han

2017

Javier Fernández

Evgenia Medvedeva*

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han*

2018

Nathan Chen*

Carolina Kostner

Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot*

2019

Nathan Chen*

Alina Zagitova*

Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov

2021

Yuzuru Hanyu

Anna Shcherbakova*

Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii

So many fascinating things to take from this! Bearing in mind there were other events at the World Championships over the years - school figures and qualifying rounds - the short program winners more often than not succeeded in taking the World title. In fact, only twice in history have all three of the short program winners not won an overall title – 2006 and 2016.


Frau Jutta Müller and Katarina Witt. Photo courtesy Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig.

The first six years the men's short program was held at the World Championships, it wasn't won by the overall winner. Katarina Witt would have won six World titles had it been based on the short program alone.


Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov's short program at the 1989 World Championships in Paris. Video courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd.

Soviet pairs hold the record for the biggest streak of short program wins at the World Championships from one country – fifteen years in a row! The first five of those wins were by Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov; the final ten by Irina Rodnina and her partners Alexei Ulanov and Aleksandr Zaitsev. Another dominant Soviet pair, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, won the short program at every World Championships they entered.


Toller Cranston. Photo courtesy "Maclean's" magazine.

Then there were the unlucky ones! Canada's Toller Cranston holds the record for being the skater to win to the short program at the Worlds the most times (three) but never take an overall title. Alexei Urmanov is the only short program winner in the history of the World Championships to withdraw prior to the free skate.

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.

The Best Short Program Skaters In North America


Compulsory connected program, original program, technical program... The short program has had many names since it was first introduced at the Canadian and U.S. Championships for pairs in 1964. The short program for singles was first contested at the Canadian and U.S. Championships nearly a decade later in 1973. In the last blog, we looked back at the winners of the short program at the European Championships. Today we'll take a quick look at past winners of the short program at Canadian and U.S. Championships each year... and some interesting takeaways. One note: a '*' denotes that a skater or couple also won the overall title that year.

SHORT PROGRAM WINNERS AT THE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Year

Men

Women

Pairs

1964

(not held)

(not held)

Debbi Wilkes and Guy Revell*

1965

(not held)

(not held)

Faye Strutt and Jimmy Watters

1966

(not held)

(not held)

Alexis and Chris Shields

1967

(not held)

(not held)

Betty and John McKilligan*

1968

(not held)

(not held)

Betty and John McKilligan*

1969

(not held)

(not held)

Anna Forder and Richard Stephens*

1970

(not held)

(not held)

Sandra and Val Bezic*

1971

(not held)

(not held)

Sandra and Val Bezic*

1972

(not held)

(not held)

Sandra and Val Bezic*

1973

Toller Cranston*

Lynn Nightingale

Sandra and Val Bezic*

1974

Toller Cranston*

Lynn Nightingale*

Sandra and Val Bezic*

1975

Toller Cranston*

Lynn Nightingale*

Kathy Hutchinson and Jamie McGrigor

1976

Toller Cranston*

Lynn Nightingale*

Candy Jones and Don Fraser*

1977

Ron Shaver*

Lynn Nightingale*

Janet and Mark Hominuke

1978

Vern Taylor

Heather Kemkaran*

Sherri Baier and Robin Cowan*

1979

Brian Pockar*

Heather Kemkaran

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini*

1980

Gordon Forbes

Heather Kemkaran*

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini*

1981

Brian Pockar

Tracey Wainman*

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini*

1982

Brian Orser*

Elizabeth Manley

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini*

1983

Brian Orser*

Kay Thomson*

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini*

1984

Brian Orser*

Cynthia Coull

Cynthia Coull and Mark Rowsom

1985

Brian Orser*

Elizabeth Manley*

Cynthia Coull and Mark Rowsom*

1986

Brian Orser*

Elizabeth Manley

Denise Benning and Lyndon Johnston

1987

Brian Orser*

Elizabeth Manley*

Cynthia Coull and Mark Rowsom*

1988

Brian Orser*

Elizabeth Manley*

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler

1989

Kurt Browning*

Karen Preston*

Cindy Landry and Lyndon Johnston

1990

Norm Proft

Josée Chouinard

Cindy Landry and Lyndon Johnston*

1991

Kurt Browning*

Josée Chouinard*

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler*

1992

Elvis Stojko

Karen Preston*

Christine Hough and Doug Ladret

1993

Kurt Browning*

Tanya Bingert

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler*

1994

Elvis Stojko*

Josée Chouinard*

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler*

1995

Sébastien Britten*

Netty Kim*

Michelle Menzies and Jean-Michel Bombardier*

1996

Elvis Stojko*

Josée Chouinard

Michelle Menzies and Jean-Michel Bombardier*

1997

Elvis Stojko*

Susan Humphreys*

Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz

1998

Elvis Stojko*

Angela Derochie*

Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz*

1999

Emanuel Sandhu

Jennifer Robinson*

Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz*

2000

Elvis Stojko*

Michelle Currie

Jamie Salé and David Pelletier*

2001

Ben Ferreira

Jennifer Robinson*

Jamie Salé and David Pelletier*

2002

Emanuel Sandhu

Annie Bellemare

Jamie Salé and David Pelletier*

2003

Ben Ferreira

Jennifer Robinson*

Anabelle Langlois and Patrice Archetto

2004

Emanuel Sandhu*

Cynthia Phaneuf*

Anabelle Langlois and Patrice Archetto

2005

Jeffrey Buttle*

Joannie Rochette*

Valérie Marcoux and Craig Buntin*

2006

Jeffrey Buttle*

Joannie Rochette*

Valérie Marcoux and Craig Buntin*

2007

Jeffrey Buttle*

Joannie Rochette*

Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison*

2008

Jeffrey Buttle

Joannie Rochette*

Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay*

2009

Patrick Chan*

Cynthia Phaneuf

Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin

2010

Patrick Chan*

Cynthia Phaneuf

Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay

2011

Patrick Chan*

Cynthia Phaneuf*

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch*

2012

Patrick Chan*

Kaetlyn Osmond

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2013

Patrick Chan*

Kaetlyn Osmond*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2014

Patrick Chan*

Kaetlyn Osmond*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2015

Nam Nguyen*

Gabrielle Daleman*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2016

Patrick Chan*

Kaetlyn Osmond

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2017

Patrick Chan*

Kaetlyn Osmond*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2018

Patrick Chan*

Gabrielle Daleman*

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford*

2019

Stephen Gogolev

Gabrielle Daleman

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro*

2020

Keegan Messing

Alicia Pineault

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro*


Some interesting things stand out here! First and foremost of course are the fact that there are some tremendously talented skaters on this list who probably should have won national titles but didn't. One skater that stands out is Ben Ferreira. He won the short program at Canadians twice (2001 and 2003) but was never a Canadian Champion.

Ben Ferreira

If you're a little superstitious, winning the pairs short program at Canadians was kind of curse in Olympic years for a period of time. In 1984, 1988 and 1992, the pairs short program winners all fell short of taking the national titles. It's happened in singles skating too - three times for the men (1980, 1992 and 2002) and three times for the women (1984, 2002 and 2010).

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

Patrick Chan holds the record for winning the men's short program the most times (nine), followed closely by Brian Orser (seven). Three women have won the short program at the Canadians five times: Lynn Nightingale, Elizabeth Manley and Kaetlyn Osmond. The pairs team who have won the short program the most times at Canadians are Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. They won it seven times in a row from 2012 to 2018. Meagan also won the short program at the 2009 Canadians with Craig Buntin, giving her the most pairs short program wins ever at the Canadian Championships.

SHORT PROGRAM WINNERS AT THE U.S. CHAMPIONSHIPS

Year

Men

Women

Pairs

1964

(not held)

(not held)

Vivian and Ronald Joseph

1965

(not held)

(not held)

Vivian and Ronald Joseph*

1966

(not held)

(not held)

Cynthia and Ron Kauffman*

1967

(not held)

(not held)

Cynthia and Ron Kauffman*

1968

(not held)

(not held)

Cynthia and Ron Kauffman*

1969

(not held)

(not held)

JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley

1970

(not held)

(not held)

JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley*

1971

(not held)

(not held)

JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley*

1972

(not held)

(not held)

JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley*

1973

Gordon McKellen Jr.*

Dorothy Hamill

Melissa and Mark Militano*

1974

Gordon McKellen Jr.*

Dorothy Hamill*

Melissa Militano and Johnny Johns*

1975

Terry Kubicka

Wendy Burge

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner

1976

Charlie Tickner

Dorothy Hamill*

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1977

Charlie Tickner*

Barbie Smith

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1978

Charlie Tickner*

Linda Fratianne*

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1979

Charlie Tickner*

Linda Fratianne*

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1980

Charlie Tickner*

Lisa-Marie Allen

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner*

1981

Scott Hamilton*

Vikki de Vries

Kitty and Peter Carruthers*

1982

Robert Wagenhoffer

Rosalynn Sumners*

Kitty and Peter Carruthers*

1983

Scott Hamilton*

Rosalynn Sumners*

Kitty and Peter Carruthers*

1984

Scott Hamilton*

Tiffany Chin

Kitty and Peter Carruthers*

1985

Brian Boitano*

Tiffany Chin*

Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard*

1986

Brian Boitano*

Caryn Kadavy

Gillian Wachsman and Todd Waggoner*

1987

Brian Boitano*

Debi Thomas

Gillian Wachsman and Todd Waggoner

1988

Brian Boitano*

Debi Thomas*

Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard*

1989

Christopher Bowman*

Jill Trenary*

Natalie and Wayne Seybold

1990

Todd Eldredge*

Kristi Yamaguchi

Kristi Yamaguchi and Rudy Galindo*

1991

Christopher Bowman

Kristi Yamaguchi

Natasha Kuchiki and Todd Sand*

1992

Christopher Bowman*

Kristi Yamaguchi*

Natasha Kuchiki and Todd Sand

1993

Mark Mitchell

Nancy Kerrigan*

Calla Urbanski and Rocky Marval*

1994

Brian Boitano

Tonya Harding*

Jenni Meno and Todd Sand*

1995

Scott Davis

Tonia Kwiatkowski

Jenni Meno and Todd Sand*

1996

Todd Eldredge

Michelle Kwan*

Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen

1997

Todd Eldredge*

Michelle Kwan

Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen*

1998

Todd Eldredge*

Michelle Kwan*

Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen*

1999

Michael Weiss*

Michelle Kwan*

Danielle and Steven Hartsell*

2000

Michael Weiss*

Sasha Cohen

Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman*

2001

Michael Weiss

Michelle Kwan*

Danielle and Steven Hartsell

2002

Todd Eldredge*

Michelle Kwan*

Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman*

2003

Timothy Goebel

Michelle Kwan*

Tiffany Scott and Philip Dulebohn*

2004

Johnny Weir*

Sasha Cohen

Tiffany Scott and Philip Dulebohn

2005

Timothy Goebel

Michelle Kwan*

Kathryn Orscher and Garrett Lucash*

2006

Johnny Weir*

Sasha Cohen*

Kathryn Orscher and Garrett Lucash

2007

Evan Lysacek*

Kimmie Meissner*

Rena Inoue and John Baldwin Jr.

2008

Johnny Weir

Mirai Nagasu*

Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker*

2009

Jeremy Abbott*

Alissa Czisny*

Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett*

2010

Jeremy Abbott*

Mirai Nagasu

Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett*

2011

Ryan Bradley*

Mirai Nagasu

Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin*

2012

Jeremy Abbott*

Agnes Zawadzki

Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker

2013

Jeremy Abbott

Ashley Wagner*

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir*

2014

Jeremy Abbott*

Gracie Gold*

Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir*

2015

Jason Brown*

Ashley Wagner*

Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim*

2016

Max Aaron

Polina Edmunds

Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea*

2017

Nathan Chen*

Karen Chen*

Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc

2018

Nathan Chen*

Bradie Tennell*

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim*

2019

Nathan Chen*

Bradie Tennell

Tarah Kayne and Danny O'Shea

2020

Nathan Chen*

Bradie Tennell

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim*

2021

Nathan Chen*

Bradie Tennell*

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Brandon Frazier*


Only four times in the history of the U.S. Championships has a skater or couple won the short program but failed to place in the top three in the final standings. This happened in the men's event in 1976 and 2001, in the women's event in 1981 and in the pairs in 2019.

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner. Photo courtesy Chicago Public Library.

As of 2021, four men have won the short program at the U.S. Championships a record five times: Charlie Tickner, Brian Boitano, Jeremy Abbott and Nathan Chen. Michelle Kwan is the women's record-holder at eight. The most short program wins by a pair at the U.S. Championships is six, a feat achieved by Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner consecutively from 1975 to 1980.

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.