Saturday, 15 October 2016

Figure Skating Hodge Podge, Volume 4

As autumn creeped in the last three years, I introduced you to a Maritime classic: hodge podge.  If you've never had a proper bowl of hodge podge, you don't know what you're missing. It's a traditional Nova Scotian fall dish that uses nothing but the freshest harvest vegetables. It just warms your soul and I'm craving it already by just mentioning it.

Here in Atlantic Canada, we use the expression "hodge podge" to describe anything that's got a little bit of everything. Figure skating constantly evolves and changes that much that it's not always easy to keep track of all of the developments, stories and (sometimes) dramas that develop along the way. I've had several topics that I'd been wanting to write about for quite a while that all seemed to have two common denominators. For one, they are all tales that many people may not know or if they did, might not remember. Secondly, they don't all really have enough material to constitute a full blog of their own. Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for a tour of compelling stories with a skating connection... an a delicious 6.0 finish:

A TALE OF TWO LYUDMILA'S


Lyudmila Vasilevna Zhuravleva was not a skater herself but a staff member at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Nauchnyj, near Bakhchysarai, Crimea. Her research with the Institute Of Theoretical Technology began in 1972 and continued into the late nineties. In that time period, she discovered no less than two hundred and thirteen minor planets and other celestial bodies. I'm sorry, but is that not insane?! In her first year on the job, she discovered an inner main belt asteroid that she named 3231 Mila. Considering her name was Lyudmila, I think it's a reasonable assumption that she named it after herself initially. Although three unconfirmed sightings of the asteroid had been made in 1949 and 1955, this was her baby.


3231 Mila, which takes three years, three hundred and one days and twenty two hours to orbit the sun at an average speed of 1904 km/s, was officially dedicated in the memory of another fabulous Lyudmila, Olympic, World and European ice dancing champion Lyudmila Pakhomova on May 31, 1988. Pakhomova had passed away two years prior of leukemia. On the world stage, her posthumous induction that same year to the World Figure Skating Hall Of Fame may have garnered more attention, but the fact that a light shines in the skies commemorating this skating great is a tremendous testament to the influence that her skating had on the world. Always remember... Up there in the Milky Way, there's an asteroid where you can skate all day.

LES PLAISIRS DE L'HIVER OU, LES PATINEURS, OU... WHAT DID YOU CALL ME?

I quite intentionally usually shy away from even mentioning roller skating on the blog. To be honest with you, I am not a fan. However, from Jackson Haines to Carrie Augusta Moore, the mention of the roller skating floor is something that is quite inescapable when you're researching figure skating history. Many Victorian era performers switched almost seamlessly from blades to rollers, so much so that you really have to do your homework when sifting through primary sources to figure out what they had on their feet at times. Haines popularized "Le prophète" on roller skates but what many don't know is that the very same year that Meyerbeer's opera debuted, another ballet took Europe by storm with an attempt to depict ice skating on stage. It was called "Les Plaisirs de l'Hiver ou, Les Patineurs (The Pleasures Of Winter, or, The Skaters") and was performed at the Academie de Musique Paris, the Great Theatres of Germany and Her Majesty's Theatre in London in the late 1840's. Morris Traub's 1944 book "Roller Skating Through The Years" noted, "in this ballet was a winter sports scene, in which [Paul] Taglioni, in order to depict skating on the Danube, used roller skates with the wheels masked to resemble the blade of an ice skate. The stage was covered with a sheet of some smooth material to represent the frozen river. The music was composed to help describe the sports of a Hungarian winter, 'even imitating the sound of gliding on the ice,' as a critic who reviewed the ballet described it." Roller skating may have largely appropriated from - and in the eyes of some critics at the time, corrupted - ice skating, but the success of this particular attempt to mimic ice skating on stage opened up many eyes to the possibilities of actual ice skating as bona fide stage entertainment.

THE 1995 SKATE ISRAEL COMPETITION



On March 31, 1995, a rocket attack on the northern Israeli coastal city of Nahariya killed an eighteen year old. The subsequent Katyusha attacks in Galilee left one hundred thousand people sleeping in shelters where they sought refuge from Lebanese shelling. Hardly a safe environment to say the least but this was the scene in December 1995 when seventy four skaters from twenty three countries converged at the rink at the Canada Centre in a dangerous area in Metulla, Israel bordered by Syria and Lebanon for the first international figure skating competition ever held in the Middle Eastern region.

The competition didn't go off without a hitch. An initial plan to exclude the original dance and just judge ice dancers on their compulsory dances and free dance obviously didn't meet ISU standards and several ice dancers had to recycle costumes and improvise music or have them flown in last minute as a result of only expecting to need costumes for compulsories and a free dance. A nasty fall in the Silver Samba forced French ice dancers Marianne and Romain Haguenauer to withdraw. However, the real drama was off the ice, with bombings twenty five kilometers north of the Canada Centre leaving skaters and coaches on edge while they tried to focus their attention on the ice and not on the sky above. Despite the bombs and soldiers everywhere, the show went on. The ice dance event was won by Lithuanians Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas and the pairs event by France's Sarah Abitbol and Stephane Bernadis of France. In winning with a flawless free skate, Abitbol and Bernadis defeated future Olympic Gold Medallist Elena Berezhnaya, who was then still competing with Oleg Shliakhov for Latvia... and we all now how that went. Though not without errors, World Bronze Medallist Tanja Szewczenko of Germany won the first Skate Israel ladies title in convincing fashion, defeating Elena Liashenko of Ukraine and Katerina Berankova of the Czech Republic in a field of twelve. Hometown favourite Michael Shmerkin won Israel's only medal of the event, a gold, in front of a hometown audience, defeating European Champion Dmitri Dimetrenko and World Junior Champion Evgeny Pliuta. It was a case of who fell the fewest times, with Dimetrenko landing only two clean triples and Pliuta missing his triple Axel. Despite a strong roster of competitors, only the Lithuanian ice dancers and Abitbol and Bernadis made a strong impression with the judges... but the audience was supportive to skaters from here, there and everywhere. And that's how it was just days before Christmas in Metulla, Israel in 1995. As the bombs dropped outside, peace reigned on the ice.

WHERE THERE'S A WYMAN, THERE'S A WAY



Born June 23, 1832 in Cornish, New Hampshire, Addison P. Wyman grew up working on his father Saul's farm with his two brothers. When he was twenty five, he married Ann E. Atwood, a noted soprano singer, and embarked on a new life studying and teaching violin and piano. After working as a teacher in Wheeling, Virginia, he opened a music school in Claremont, New Hampshire and took up the art of 'fancy' skating. He was so inspired by the ice that he wrote a series of piano-forte pieces in ode to the craft: "Music On The Water", "Floating On The Water" and the 1869 March de Bravurs "The Alps'' among them. Perhaps most famous was his 1867 Caprice "Skating By Moonlight" dedicated to skater Annie Moore of Washington, Pennsylvania. Although largely forgotten today, Wyman was among the first of many American composers to compose pieces inspired by skating and used widely by ice Valsers at the time.

JOHN KEILLER GREIG TAKES A TRIP


Who could forget the 1908 Summer Olympic figure skating skirmish between Ulrich Salchow and Nikolay Panin? As far as tawdry tabloid material, it made the whole Pasha/Sasha/Maya/Evgeny partner switcharoo look like small potatoes. This was OLD SCHOOL scandal of the first quality. One man who quietly faded into the background of figure skating's first Olympic appearance was a man named John Keiller Greig, who just missed the podium in his home country in 1908.

Born in Dundee, Scotland in 1881, Greig thrice won the British Figure Skating Championships prior to World War I but seeing as his only international appearances were his 1908 fourth place finish at the Olympics and a fourth place finish at the 1910 European Championships in Berlin, Germany, he wasn't a skater that historically is greatly remembered. However, he was an athletic skater for his day and one of the first British skaters to compete internationally sporting the Continental Style as opposed to the traditional English Style of skating still popular in Britain at the time. He also won a large ice waltzing contest at Prince's Skating Club with Phyllis Johnson.


Eminent British judge, pairs skater, author and historian T.D. Richardson offered a wonderful anecdote about Greig's career: "I myself preferred Greig's skating. It was so unstereotyped, so intrinsically his own, less influenced by [Henning] Grenander than any of his contemporaries. I think this was mainly the result of his superb physical strength, on which was based all the beauty and power of his performance. Once, I remember, he had promised to skate a show at Samaden, near St. Moritz, on a date which would have allowed him a week or so at the 6,000 ft. altitude in which to get acclimatised. But he was delayed in London on business, and found himself in the train on the way up to St. Moritz on the day of the show. He quickly changed into costume black tights and lion tamer jacket in the train and, leaving his luggage on the platform; with guards on his skates, he strode along to the rink, skated a four-minute show and an encore, then, returning to the station, he found the train still there, waiting for the St. Moritz Coire train to pass through, boarded it, re-changed and in due course took tea in the Kulm Hotel. Yes! There was something to remember in the skating of this grand fourteen-stone athlete... Incidentally, later on, although no longer young, he took to skiing like a duck takes to water and became one of the first British skiers to jump with any degree of success." I don't know what it is about this story that just made me smile but I think it's just the hilarity of a man getting dressed into tights, skates and a lion tamer costume on a train, hopping off and giving this amazing performance and continuing on his merry old way... I love it!

Greig would ultimately retire from competitive skating in 1910 at the age of twenty nine and as mentioned by Richardson, turn his attention to skiing. The very year of his departure from skating he was featured in W. Rickmer Rickmers' book "Skiing For Beginners And Mountaineers". Tim Ashburner's 2003 book "The History Of Ski Jumping" explains that "after the War, Keiller became the leading light for a new generation of ski jumpers and langlaufers with St Moritz as their base." A pioneer in not one but two Winter Olympic sports by way of his SUMMER Olympic appearance in 1908, Greig would pass away in Scotland in 1971 in Ballater, Scotland at the age of ninety, leaving a legacy of excellence in sport and this wonderful anecdote to make all of you smile as much as I did!

NOVA SCOTIAN HODGE PODGE RECIPE


Sop up what's left with some nice hearty bread and be sure to double or triple up so that you have leftovers... this is always better the second day! This recipe is for four to six people:

Ingredients (fresh from a farmer's market or garden):

10-12 new potatoes – scrubbed/not peeled, and halved – quarter any large potatoes, and don't cut the small ones – you want the potato pieces to be about the same size
2-3 cups chopped new carrots – scrubbed/not peeled, cut into bite sized pieces (you can peel them if you like)
1 cup chopped yellow beans – 1 inch long pieces
1 cup chopped green beans – 1 inch long pieces
1 cup shelled pod peas – you want just the peas, not the pods
1.5 cups cream
1/4 – 1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. Fill a large, heavy pot about halfway with water, and salt lightly (about 1/2 teaspoon of salt). Bring to a boil.
2. Add the potatoes to the boiling water. Cook for about seven minutes.
3. Add the carrots to the pot, and continue cooking for about seven minutes.
4. Next add the yellow and green beans to the pot, and continue cooking for about five minutes.
5. Finally, add the peas, and continue cooking for about three minutes.
6. Drain off most of the water – leave about an inch of water (no more) in the bottom of the pot with the vegetables. Return the pot to the stove, and reduce burner heat to low. Add the cream and butter, and some salt and pepper (I start with a 1/4 teaspoon of each).
7. Gently stir to combine, allowing the the blend and butter to heat through. As you’re stirring, the potatoes might break up a bit. As the the blend and butter heat through, the broth may begin to thicken. This is normal. Don’t allow the mixture to boil.
8. Once the mixture has heated through, it is ready to serve. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste. Serve with bread.

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.

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