The son of Edith (Tuthill) and Lester Dunbar Mapes, Bruce Allan Mapes Sr. was born August 16, 1901 in New York City. He grew up in Brooklyn and caught the skating bug when he saw Charlotte perform when he was eleven. He learned the scales of skating - the school figures - at the Brooklyn Ice Palace yet derived far more interest in jumping, spinning and other free skating elements.
Bruce retired from competitive skating after winning the Middle Atlantic dance competition in 1924 and worked as an architect before embarking on a barnstorming professional career with his wife Evelyn Chandler. Christie Sausa's book "Lake Placid Figure Skating: A History" explained, "Evelyn Chandler and Bruce Mapes were big stars in the early 1930s, considered the best professional team in the world at the time." The duo performed in everything from club carnivals to circuses. The popular team also toured with Ice Follies for eight years and performed in Chicago's Century of Progress International Exposition in 1933 and 1934.
Bruce Mapes and Evelyn Chandler. Photo courtesy the Minnesota Historical Society. Used with permission.
Evelyn Chandler performing for the troops in 1938
The on and off ice couple had three children, Chandler, Bruce Jr. and Susan, and both of their sons also became professional skaters. Bruce Mapes Jr. toured alongside two time World Medallist Daphne Walker, Betty Jane Ricker, Bill Keefe and Florine Couls, Bobby Temple and Phyllis Kirby in the fifties ice show Ice Vanities.
Left: Evelyn Chandler and Bruce Mapes on roller skates. Photo courtesy "Skating Review" magazine. Right: Evelyn Chandler and Bruce Mapes in military-inspired costumes. Photo courtesy "World Ice Skating Guide".
Bruce has historically been credited with inventing the toe-loop. and by some, the flip. Whereas John Misha Petkevich's 1988 book "Figure Skating: Championship Techniques" gives full credit to Mapes for the toe-loop, the origins of the flip are a little more murky. Gustave Lussi claimed to have invented the jump with Bud Wilson in Canada. He stated that when Evelyn came up to Canada to perform, she saw the jump performed and took it down to the States where the couple performed it and it became known as a Mapes. Interestingly, in roller skating today a toe-loop jump - not a flip - is known as a Mapes.
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