The Fifth Annual Skate Guard Hallowe'en Spooktacular

It's the ghost wonderful time of the year! Hallowe'en has once again fallen upon us and all of you loyal Skate Guard readers know that means. It's time for a yearly Skate Guard tradition... The Annual Skate Guard Hallowe'en Spooktacular! Dim the lights enjoy this creepy collection of darker stories that have peppered skating's history through the years!


For decades, Ohio State University's Pomerene Hall in Columbus has reportedly played host to an unwelcome resident: a ghostly lady in pink who reportedly haunts Room 213. However, long before the legend of the lady in pink worked its way into dorm room ghost stories, students were telling the tale of a ghost that haunts a small pond on campus known as Mirror Lake. The ghost is said to appear as a female skater, garbed in clothing of another era, warming her hands in a muff. An article in the October 26, 1990 issue of "The Ohio State Lantern" noted, "It is hard to find people willing to talk about the sighting because many do not believe what they saw. Interestingly, most of the sightings of the skater are by witnesses standing on a Pomerene Hall balcony overlooking the lake, while the lady in pink can be seen when looking across the north side of Mirror Lake towards Pomerene Hall. No one has ever linked the two ghosts, but it is curious that the lady in pink chooses to walk to a window overlooking the lake. The two women are also dressed in clothing which could be from the same period." In 1990, the university asserted that no deaths were documented in either Room 213 or the Mirror Lake pond since the university has been in existence but since then more than one student has tragically died in Mirror Lake. Did the skating ghost or the lady in pink play a hand? You be the judge.

Anita Hartshorn and Frank Sweiding performing to Enigma's "Mea Culpa" at the 1994 Miko Masters


The infamous Salem Witch Trials occurred in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693. In the mass hysteria and religious fervour, more than two hundred people were accused of practicing witchcraft, and two hundred were executed. You'd think the good people of Massachusetts would have learned their lesson, but apparently not. Over a century later, a school teacher in Salem had her 'virtue' and character called into question - and was even accused of witchcraft - for teaching her female students how to do something as 'undignified' as ice skating. Jennie Holliman was one of the first to recall the story in the twentieth century in her 1939 book "Amusements And Sports In American Life". She noted, "In 1801, at Salem, Massachusetts, it was reported that a teacher of that place had instructed her pupils in the art of skating. The virtue of this woman and that of the girls was vindicated, however, when it was proved through the columns of the local newspapers that the report was an absolute falsehood." One primary source that verifies the story is the diary of William Bentley, the Pastor of the East Church in Salem. On December 1, 1801, Pastor Bentley recalled, "The vile slanders propogated last year to injure a school mistress* [Mrs. Rogers] in this town, have been echoed from other parts of the Continent, and the writer under the name of the Hindu, has dared to report that a teacher in Salem instructed her female pupils in the art of skaiting. A proper notice of this absolute falsehood is taken in the Imp. Register of this day." Through the help of Jen Ratliff, The Salem Historical Society and the Boston Public Library I was able to track down a clipping from the December 3, 1801 edition of the "Salem Impartial Register" that corroborates the story,

While far from spooky, this tale goes to show you just how far skating has come. What is now a pursuit dominated largely by females was once in some parts considered something worth burning over.


The site of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in London has a long, fascinating history. The present venue which occupies the site is actually the third theatre in the space. The first two were destroyed in fires in 1808 and 1856. When the theatre underwent construction in the summer of 1999, workers reported having bricks, nuts, bolts and metal plating hurled at them from above while they toiled away. The workers laughed off the incidents, referring to their unseen attacker as 'The Phantom Of the Opera'. Security was beefed up, a reward even offered if someone could prove the attacks weren't otherworldly in nature, but nothing ever came of it. Did the phantom have a skating connection? It's possible. In 1937, Claude Langdon's "Rhapsody On Ice", a lavish skating production in two parts comprised of two ice ballets - "Enchanted Night" and "The Brahman's Daughter". Ten thousand pounds alone was spent on installing ice on the theatre's fifty five by seventy foot stage. A cast of one hundred and twenty professional skaters were employed, including two time Olympic Gold Medallists Andrée and Pierre Brunet, barrel jumper Phil Taylor and no less a legend that Belita Jepson-Turner herself. The show was largely panned by critics. Choreographer Alfred Mégroz was blamed by some for the production's failure and Langdon took a huge financial loss. In his 1953 book "Earl's Court", Langdon wrote, "To this day I confess I do not know all the reasons why this show was such a disappointment, while ice at the Stoll [Theatre] was such a success. Perhaps the regular 'Garden' enthusiasts resented the intrusion of ice entertainment and were slow to see the advantages of ballet on ice. Perhaps it is always an uphill task to present a show, of any sort, in a setting and background which is startlingly different. Gordon Jackson devised a perfect portable ice floor for the Covent Garden stage, the show was artistic, musical and colourful. In fact all our troubles were centred on the other side of the footlights, where there was (after the first few opening days) almost no audience. I was bitterly disappointed." Was a resentful Langdon the mystery phantom, lashing out at workers at a venue that cost him a pretty penny? Heaven (or hell) only knows.


The legend of The Hickling Skater first appeared in Ernest Richard Suffling's 1890 book "History and Legends of the Broad District". As the story goes, one cold winter in the early nineteenth century around the time of the Battle Of Waterloo, a young soldier was on a month's leave from duty and came to visit his sweetheart, who lived across the Hickling Broad near the village of Potter Heigham, England. His sweetheart's father didn't approve of the young man, so the couple had to meet in secret. On one secret rendezvous, the couple decided to go skating on Hickling Broad, when the soldier fell through the ice and drowned. His body wasn't found for several days. For decades, locals claimed to have seen his ghost on Hickling Broad around seven o'clock at night on cold February evenings, zooming around the ice looking for his beloved. The ghost was said to have been seen beating a drum and whistling along to gather his lover's attention.  Did Suffling encounter The Hickling Skater himself? Perhaps. In his 1887 book "The Land of the Broads: A Practical and Illustrated Guide to the Extensive but Little-Know District of the Boards of Norfolk and Suffolk", he stated, "I have sometimes been on the beautiful crystal surface of Hickling Broad, about a square mile in area, with perhaps only a dozen other persons on it besides myself; no fear of being knocked down by the crowded state of the ice here! In very cold weather, one may skate for miles and miles along the rivers; or if the skater be nervous, he may try his fortune on the glassy covering of ice which surmounts the flooded marshes, with a depth of only about a foot of water; so that, if he should happen to go through, he can step quietly out again." It's certainly possible that a chance encounter with The Hickling Skater inspired Suffling to write about the legend, but he made no mention of such an encounter. Instead, he claimed in 1890, "this 'poor ghost' appears to have been exorcised, for it is now a number of years since he has been seen, in fact, not since the advent of the superstition-destroying School Board". Did The Hickling Skater really pass over to the other side? If you decide to head out to Hickling Broad on a cold February night to find out for yourself, you might want to stay off the ice.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

#Unearthed: The Crystal Ball

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 treasures' require us to scry into an imaginary crystal ball to see the future from the past. With an open mind, we consider two alternate futures that skaters from decades past envisioned for the figure skating world. Provided by Sandra Bezic and shared with the permission of the U.S. Figure Skating Association, both of these pieces first appeared in "Skating" magazine. The first, a poem by Jane Maletz called "Nineteen Skatey-Four", was written in 1968 and imagines what skating would be like in 1984. The second, an article by Dr. Irwin J. Polk called "1991: Skating Odyssey", is a prediction penned in 1972 of what a regional skating competition in the U.S. would be like 1991. These prophecies may not have turned out to be entirely accurate, but how they foretold technology - cell phones, computerized scoring, instant replay - is just plain eerie. If you try to look at these writings through the eyes of the authors at the time they wrote them, there's almost a spooky element to them .


Right next door to the psychedelicatessan
Across from the nuclear pizzeria
There's a futuristic, flipped out ice rink
                                                  just think
Of a minute's wait
   on an escalate-
or, heading straight for
heated bleachers with rocking chair seats
each in reach
of its own thermostat!
(No more sittin'
wearin' mittens)
And as your rocking toasting toes
switch on very
ampliphonic armchair earphones.

Down below on coloured ice
Chicks will sport the shortest sort
of paper shift
Tossing minis after use
                       in refuse.

Skating moms who gush with love
Will pamper precious progeny
And pros can rant and rave full time
Cajoling small celebrities
Using teensy walky-talkits
Carried in a skater's pocket!

Zippy jet skates will have 4 speed blade traction
And dual lift thrusts for rocket jump action.

Tots who find their trousers thinning
From mixing up their 'sits' and 'spinning'
Will fit well polished derrieres
Into inflatable underwear
To cushion each flop with an ounce
                                           of bounce!

Wearing a flexible plastic belt
To special cameras sensitized
You'll skate
           and rate
A sharp-eyed lens
trained on each curve of your swoops and bends.

Time lapse cold pills swallowed just once
Will take away the itch to sniff
At patch
or catch-ing
judges smudges,
A runny nose
Won't impose.

The population will explode-
A relocation
Under ocean
And folks will skate on flippered feet
When Lutzing under briny deep.

And think
of a shrink-ing
at worst
in a minute's
You'll trot
To the spot
of games that include
Olympics skated on the moon!
The Mars World Champions feature a crew
Of three legged cheesemen of delicate hue
Their green bodies flash
past the chartreuse spectators
On ice that's the shade
Of an unripe tomater.

Imagine the Kilian changed
                               to arrange
The three legged contortions
Of ice dancing Martians!

Or Saturn plant people
Nasturtium and Rose
Gliding on leaves
To the Viennese...

The scene will be groovy-
There's no debate
You may hold your partner's antennae to skate.

But be not beguiled
Though the future be wild
Ye old FSA
Will be there all the way
scoring the stroking of jet propelled eights!

Kelly Colman and Commander Robot in the 1969 Ice Follies tour. Photo courtesy Ingrid Hunnewell.


A Brief Note To Cynics:

According to author Polk, his conceptualization of future techniques in skating has a firm basis in reality. He states, 'Should you think this article too fanciful, let me suggest to you that this procedure has already been tested in part of Canada. According to my knowledge, several years ago taped presentations were used for grading."

Scene: 1991. New York City. A Regional Competition.

The first skater moves onto the ice to do her compulsory figures. She skates over to the referee who asks her to select her ice and put down the first figure. He smiles at her and reminds her that the figure is number 28 A, the RFOI-LFIO change double three.

The room is completely silent as the competitor begins and, little wonder, for she and the referee are the only ones in the room. There are no judges visible anywhere nor any audience.

The skater selects her ice. As she does so, the judge checks the light fixed to the front and back of each skate as well as the signal light on the overhead television camera. When the skater is ready, the referee signifies that she lay out her figure. At the completion of the figure, she moves on to another patch of ice and lays out her next figure. At the completion of the test, she skates off the ice and goes about changing her equipment for the freestyle competition.

Meanwhile a computer is preparing her marks for the figures. This particular computer has been programmed to accept the patterns drawn for the television camera by the lights on the skater's boots. It judges each figure for size, shape, and symmetry. It credits extra points for improvement of faulty figures as well as adjusting for those parts of the figures which have been skated identically, while subtracting points for scatter in the tracings. This particular computer has been programmed to do this for all of the figures. The televised patterns are transmitted to the computer by telephone. This part of the service is the same as that which doctors use at the bedside to get instant, accurate readings of cardiograph tracings.

The computer is prepared to print out a numerical figure grade for each figure almost instantaneously. Comparing the tracing that the skater made with standards in its memory, the computer prints a numerical grade from 001 to 999. However, to conserve computer time, all the TV tapes for the competition are saved until the end and fed into the computer. Within minutes, a typewritten listing is presented at the rinkside. Only those skaters whose figures return grades which are better than preassigned levels are permitted to go on to the freestyle competition.

Freestyle competition is much the same as it was back in the 1970's. The panel of judges grades the contestants as they always have. But now the judges have help from the ever-present television camera. A tape is made for each skater, and where the competition is close, the judges can use the tape for instant replay, even in slow motion. They can check and re-check the flow of each skater as well as the synchronism of the skating and the program music which has also been recorded. Slow motion helps to detect imperfect jumps and turns. Finally, at the end of the computer-assisted judging, a winner is selected more easily than in the past.

Should any question arise in the future, the tapes of both the figures and the freestyle are available in the USFSA library for replay. In this fashion, the development of the skaters over the years is followed. New technique can be developed by observing the way various skaters do their jumps.

Teaching will also have benefited from the use of electronic techniques. The pros all have available a library of programs and figures to study. They have access to a gold mine of recent skating history.

Perhaps the greatest benefit is to the skaters. They take to the ice secure in the knowledge that the impartial computer is judging the figures and that, win, lose or draw, they have the best judging that modern society and technology can provide.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

The 1986 Skate Canada International Competition

Held from October 30 to November 2, 1986 in Regina, Saskatchewan, the 1986 Skate Canada International competition was a star-studded event that featured over fifty skaters from thirteen countries. Notably absent were Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson and Rob McCall, who instead opted to compete at the Novarat Trophy in Budapest to get a feel for the rink that was to be used for the 1988 World Championships. The creaky, dimly-lit Exhibition Stadium was the venue for the men's and women's school figures, with all other events held at the nine year old Regina Agridome. Many skaters complained about the stuffy, dry air in the arena. Quoted in the November 3, 1986 issue of the "Leader Post", Yugoslavia's Zeljka Cizmesija complained, "I found it hard to breathe." Elizabeth Manley added, "The air is extremely dry here... that and the scent from the flowers and the popcorn from the concessions made it hard on all of us."

Attendance was down from the 1984 Canadian Championships in Regina, with about eighteen thousand of the twenty seven thousand seats in the Regina Agridome filled during most sessions. However, the three hundred and ninety four thousand dollar event net a profit of approximately thirty five thousand dollars. Quoted in the November 3, 1986 issue of the "Leader Post", event co-chairman Gerry Walsh remarked, "The compliments from the competitors and officials have been so positive. A judge told me that she has never witnessed a better run event than this one. That makes me feel good." Media attention was ample, though not extensive. "The Globe And Mail", The Canadian Press in Edmonton, "The Saskatoon Star-Phoenix", CKCK Radio, CBC Radio and the "Leader Post" covered the event on a daily basis, and Johnny Esaw, Brian Pockar and Debbi Wilkes commentated television coverage on CTV. Television crews from ABC and TSN also covered the event. Thanks to Alice Frederick of the Regina Public Library, I'm able to shed a great deal of light on this exciting competition. Bundle up and hop in the time machine as we take a look back at this fascinating event!


Sixteen year old Ekaterina Gordeeva and nineteen year old Sergei Grinkov were the heavy favourites to take the gold in the pairs event in Regina. Winning the short program with first place marks from every judge, they appeared well on their way to what should have been an easy win. That's not exactly how things played out.

In the free skate, Gordeeva tumbled three times and Canada's Cynthia Coull and Mark Rowsom managed to defeat Gordeeva and Grinkov with first place marks from six of the seven judges. Canadians Denise Benning and Lyndon Johnston dropped to fifth and American siblings Natalie and Wayne Seybold moved up to take the bronze.

Quoted in the November 4, 1986 issue of the "Windsor Star", Rowsom admitted, "I was the most surprised person in the building when we discovered we had won. We didn't see Gordeeva and Grinkov skate so we didn't know they didn't skate well. We really didn't think we had a chance of catching them because we never thought they'd have as much trouble as they did. We knew we were skating well Saturday but there was no reason for us to expect they'd skate below their usual level. They were great in practices and we weren't so the way things turned out was a tremendous surprise." In reality, Gordeeva was suffering from a bad cold at the event. In her book "My Sergei", she admitted that they "weren't well prepared". This was around the time where they made the coaching switch from Stanislav Zhuk to Stanislav Leonovich and would prove to be one of the legendary G and G's only losses in international competition.


Karyn and Rod Garossino
Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay, who had left Canada to represent France, felt snubbed by CFSA officials when they were left off the invite list. Reigning U.S. Champions Renee Roca and Donald Adair were initially slated to appear, but were replaced pre-competition due to Roca's tendon injury by Suzanne Semanick and Scott Gregory. Soviets Natalia Annenko and Genrikh Sretenski took a commanding lead in the compulsory dances ahead of Semanick and Gregory and Canadian siblings Karyn and Rod Garossino. A low mark of 4.4 for the Canadians from the Soviet judge on the first compulsory drew a chorus of loud boos from the revved up Regina crowd. Quoted in the October 31, 1986 issue of the "Toronto Star", Rod Garossino lamented, "The placings were a little bit predictable, given the World ranking. We would have liked to have been closer in the markings... perhaps we were not aggressive enough in the first dance." The Soviets only expanded their lead in the OSP, the Viennese Waltz. Prior to the free dance, Austrians Kathrin and Christoff Beck withdrew due to injury. Speaking of injury, Karyn Garossino took a nasty fall on a lift in the free dance and had to go to the hospital before receiving her bronze medal. Semanick and Gregory's silver medal winning free dance to "Waiting for Robert E. Lee" and "Duellin' Banjos" was a hit with the audience and Annenko and Sretenski's Tchaikovsky's "Romeo And Juliet" a bigger hit with the judges. Great Britain's Sharon Jones and Paul Askham placed fourth, ahead of France's Corinne Paliard and Didier Courtois, Canada's Michelle McDonald and Michael Farrington and America's Dorothi Rodek and Robert Nardozza. After the free dance, the judges met to "discuss" whether or not Annenko and Sretenski's non-rhythmic free dance music was illegal, despite the fact not a single one marked it down.


Prior to the event, East Germany's Joachim Edel withdrew due to injury. The Soviet Union opted to replace Vladimir Petrenko, who had initially been slated to compete, with Vitali Egorov. Twenty year old Grzegorz Filipowski of Poland opted to compete despite the fact he was suffering from a groin injury. Escorted by a Skate Canada volunteer to Regina's Polish Club, he reluctantly accepted a small donation towards his training costs raised by a collection of the club's members. Egorov took a commanding lead in the school figures, ahead of Filipowski and France's Frédéric Harpagès. Young American Christopher Bowman won the short program with a clean and stylized performance, but was only able to pull up to fourth after a disapponting sixth place showing in the figures.

Despite being upstaged by Bowman, Filipowski and Czechoslovakia's Petr Barna in the latter phases of the event, Egorov turned in a clean but utterly uninspired five-triple free skate to take the gold. Commentating for CTV, Debbi Wilkes remarked, "He's got the good tricks, but it's very boring to me." Brian Pockar added, "It's absolutely frustrating for me to watch this program, because I have absolutely nothing to comment on besides putting checkmarks beside the number of triples that he's landed." Bowman moved up to take the silver ahead of Bowman, Filipowski and Canada's Neil Paterson. Canada's second entry, Michael Slipchuk of Edmonton, placed ninth.


Elizabeth Manley warming up backstage

Prior to the event, Japan's Juri Osada and Finland's Elise Ahohen withdrew due to injury, as did Rosemarie Sakic of Burnaby, British Columbia, who broke her foot trying to land a triple loop. America's Tiffany Chin also pulled out at the last minute and was replaced by Tracey Damigella. The USFSA didn't volunteer a reason for Chin's withdrawal and predictably, rumours swirled that the reason was because they didn't want to pit her against Elizabeth Manley. In reality, she'd been a replacement for Debi Thomas at Skate America only two weeks prior. Manley was coming off a win the month prior at St. Ivel in Richmond, England was heavily favoured to take the gold. She won the first two figures, but lost the change loop to sixteen year old Joanne Conway of Great Britain. The overall lead in figures was only Manley's second ever at an international competition. Quoted in the October 31, 1986 issue of the "Montreal Gazette", she remarked, "I was a little disappointed in the counter but maybe it made me better, I came back fighting. If I skate figures boldly, I usually do them very good. I didn't have that boldness in the first figure... I was about third or fourth... but that put the boldness back in me. The second figure was one of the best I've ever done." Third after figures, Natalia Lebedeva of the Soviet Union won the short program ahead of West Germany's Claudia Leistner and Manley, who two-footed in the required double toe-loop in her triple toe-loop/double toe-loop combination. Joanne Conway dropped to fourth overall with a fifth place showing in the short program and Manley maintained the overall lead.

Rallying back in the free skate, Manley earned a standing ovation for a gutsy performance that earned marks ranging from 5.5 to 5.8. She took the gold over Leistner, Conway, Damigella and America's Kelly Szmurlo but admitted, "It wasn't how I wanted to win."

Natalia Lebedeva

What she meant by that statement was the fact her chief competition, Natalia Lebedeva, was forced to withdraw after twisting her knee on a bad mid-program fall on a triple Salchow. Taken to the hospital for treatment after leaving the ice with the assistance of her coach and medical staff, Lebedeva watched the Exhibition Of Champions from the stands. Manley skated over and presented her with a bouquet of flowers in a touching display of good sportsmanship.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

Hana Mašková, Prague's Ice Queen

Today's blog comes as a request from 'suki' on the Figure Skating Universe forum, and I'm not going to lie... tackling this particular biography was a bit of a challenge, to say the least. A lot of the sources I was able to find relating to Hana Mašková were contemporary articles in Czech or blogs in Russian - not primary sources  - and there were some really conflicting stories out there relating to two major parts of her story: her mother and her tragic death. After sifting through a lot of the 'he said, she said' and contradictory information out there, I decided to give her story the old college try... and believe me, it's fascinating stuff!

Born September 26, 1949 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Hana Mašková was the daughter of Joseph Mašek, a hotel waiter, and Marie Mašková, who worked as a cook at a kindergarten. She started skating at the age of five in 1955 at the Štvanice Stadium. A year later, she began taking lessons from a former pairs skater named Karel Glogar, who had previously worked with Ája Vrzáňová and Dagmar Lerchová.

From the get-go, her mother Marie was always rinkside. She soon developed a reputation as a bit of a stage mother and taskmaster. In a 2006 article, journalist Martina Bittnerová claimed, "The lady was something abnormal. Indeed, in the last years of her life she was plagued by severe mental illness." However, other accounts paint Hana's mother as a woman who (understandably) suffered from severe depression after her first husband, a technical officer named John Kubata, murdered two of her children and then committed suicide. Whatever the case may have been, no one can accuse Marie of being an absentee skating parent.

Hana idolized Sjoukje Dijkstra and took training very seriously, getting up at four in the morning every day before school. More interested in free skating than spending time toiling away at school figures, she was constantly trying difficult jumps in practice but was often painted as a talented jumper who struggled with self-confidence when it came down to competing. Through work with coaches Jaroslav Sadílek, Míla Nováková (Doe) and Dr. Vladimir Koudelka, she soon developed into quite the little athlete. She competed in her first competition at the age of eight and won her first title at the age of ten.

At the age of fourteen, Hana competed in her first major international competition, the 1963 European Championships in Budapest. Though she finished fifteenth, she landed a double Lutz and double Axel and the Dutch, Polish and Soviet judges had her in the top four in free skating. What really hurt her in Budapest was a less than stellar showing in school figures and the fact she didn't skate with the panache and artistry of her competitors. To improve the artistic side of her skating, Hana was sent to study ballet from one Madame Aubrechtové, who had a home studio at Wenceslas Square. She also studied piano to gain a better appreciation of music and began creating new programs every year to try her hand at a variety of styles of music. This was unique in that many of her competitors would often rework the same free skating program for at least two seasons rather than create new programs every season. Her efforts didn't go unrecognized. Czechoslovakian news sources began comparing her 'new style' to that of Ája Vrzáňová.

In the years that followed, Hana made a progressive rise in the standings. After placing out of the top ten at both the 1964 Winter Olympic Games and World Championships, she finished fifth at the 1965 European Championships in Moscow, defeating all three of the medallists in free skating. After an unlucky thirteenth place finish at the 1965 World Championships in Colorado Springs, she finished just off the podium in fourth at the 1966 European Championships in Bratislava and sixth at the 1966 World Championships in Davos. However, her most impressive accomplishment during this period was undoubtedly her win at the 1966 Czechoslovakian Championships... with a cast on her arm after breaking her hand.

Hana on the podium with Gaby Seyfert and Zsuzsa Almássy at the 1967 European Championships

At the 1967 European Championships in Ljubljana, Hana won the silver medal behind Gaby Seyfert, soundly defeating the East German skater in the free skate. At the World Championships in Vienna that followed, she won the bronze medal. At that event, the Canadian and Czechoslovakian judges had her first in free skating, ahead of Peggy Fleming and Gaby Seyfert. With three of her five Czechoslovakian national titles under her belt at that point, it appeared she had a legitimate chance at a medal at the 1968 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck.

Left: Hana Mašková and Jiri Štaidl . Right: Hana Mašková 

Then Hana began dating lyricist, screenwriter and musician Jiri Štaidl, much to her mother's shagrin. By accounts, it was quite the rocky relationship. Her coach Míla Nováková recalled, "In the year that they were dating, she seemed to have aged ten years. But she could not escape from the captivity of that relationship." While her mother and coach seemed to point fingers at her boyfriend, Štaidl's friends had a different perspective. In an interview for the 2000 publication "Unexplained Deaths VI", one wrote, "Jiri changed. He became more serious, more responsible, restricted [his] benders and pranks and his lyrics began to return to depth and poetry." As if the outside influences on her relationship weren't enough, it didn't help that when Hana went to competitions she had to contend with the well-documented mind games of Jutta Müller, Gaby Seyfert and friends. 

Gaby Seyfert, Peggy Fleming and Hana Mašková at the 1968 Winter Olympic Games

At the 1968 European Championships in Västerås, Sweden, Hana soundly defeated Gaby Seyfert and Trixi Schuba. At first it seemed that she was carrying that momentum into the Winter Olympic Games. She was actually the leader after the first three figures in Grenoble but floundered in the latter trio, finding herself in fourth entering the free skate. She rebounded to snatch the bronze from Trixi Schuba and followed her medal win in France up with a bronze at the 1968 World Championships in Geneva. Then came an offer from Ája Vrzáňová to turn professional, which she soundly declined. With Peggy Fleming out of the picture, Hana wanted to take one final stab at a World title.

Whether it was self-confidence or the distraction of her relationship with Jiri, things started to unravel for Hana in 1969. At the European Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, she told her coach before she got on the ice that she couldn't feel her legs. Urged on to compete anyway, she landed two double Axels and a double Lutz, then just stopped her program. Her coach yelled at her to finish. She did, finishing second and leaving the rink in tears. She arrived in Colorado Springs for the 1969 World Championships injured after a nasty fall in an exhibition in Winterthur, Switzerland. After skating the figures in excruciating pain, she opted to withdraw after doctors refused to give her further sedative injections. Míla Nováková claimed by that point, Hana was just drained physically and psychologically. A la Toller Cranston years later, legend goes that she threw the skates she used for figures in a river.... and that was the end of Hana's amateur career.

Hana went on the ISU's 1969 World Champions Figure Skating Exhibition tour of North America then joined Holiday On Ice and the Vienna Ice Revue. Bittnerová wrote, "In the beginning she felt satisfied, she had time for a lot of others, and for most normal and common hobbies. Love blossomed with Štaidl... However, this period did not last a long time [as] it seemed performances in ice revues were tiring." Life wasn't all doom and gloom from the Czechoslovakian ice queen though. She relished her independence and told one Czechoslovakian reporter, "I am happy that [I can] finally [read] books, which I have for years had [not been able to]... The packages that I get from Prague, contain the books and sometimes, of course, apple pie from Mom. My hotel room is like a library." She won the World Professional title at Wembley and depending on which Czechoslovakian source you read, she either broke up with Jiri or she didn't. 

On the night of March 31, 1972, Hana was on her way from Paris to Poitiers, France with her dog and fellow skater Kveta Celflová. They stopped at a party thrown by a fellow skater. She had a drink or two (as one does) and her friend Milena Kladrubská tried to convince Hana and Kveta to stay the night and sleep it off, but they refused. On her drive to Poitiers, they stopped and picked up a French soldier who was hitchhiking. In the village of Vouvray, Hana lost control of her vehicle going around a sharp bend at at least one hundred kilometers an hour and collided with a truck with a trailer attached. The soldier and dog were killed instantly. Kveta was badly injured but survived after several operations. She said Hana died in great pain, with severe chest injuries and both of her feet crushed. She breathed her last breath in a French ambulance and was buried in the Vyšehrad cemetery. A beautiful statue designed by Jan Štursa decorates her final resting place. 

Jiri took Hana's death very hard and started drinking and driving himself. On October 9, 1973, he was on his way to his parents home near Prague and wanted to dazzle his newest female companion with his 'fancy driving skills'. What did he end up doing? Crashing into a truck. She survived; he didn't. Following Hana's death, there was a whole decade of debate and speculation about the crash between the police, insurance companies, Milena Kladrubská and Hana's mother. The whole matter fizzled out by 1981 but rumours persisted that someone cut her break line. Hana Havránková of the National Museum of Czechoslovakia claimed, "When the Treasury Department ordered to vacate [Hana's] apartment, they found [the] bronze medal [from] Grenoble. That got to us."

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

The conflicting accounts that exist out there surrounding Hana's mother, relationship with  Jiri, mental state and the crash itself serve as wonderful examples of how there are always fifteen sides to every story. Wherever the truth may lie, the fact remains that one of skating's most talented and underappreciated skaters was lost far too soon and I think it is important that she is remembered for the contributions she made to the sport and not primarily for her untimely premature death. All too often in this world people are reduced to headlines, and Hana's story is so much more complex than that.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

The Demise Of The North American Championships

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

Do you know what's funny? Whenever I blog about judging controversies, my inbox goes berserk. Scandals don't just whet the appetites of skating fans... People have a penchant for these stories and I promise that the scandal du jour on today's Skate Guard menu will be every bit as delicious.

Advertisement for the 1969 North American Championships. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

The event was the 1969 North American Figure Skating Championships held from February 6 to 8, 1969 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and hosted by the St. Moritz Ice Skating Club. Thirty six entries from Canada and the United States skated their hearts out in hopes of bringing home medals.

Program from the 1969 North American Championships

Tim Wood won the men's event and Toller Cranston finished last. Americans Cynthia and Ron Kauffman prevailed in the pairs event, while Canadians Mary Petrie and Bob McAvoy took the bronze. Mary recalled, "It was so exciting for us to compete Internationally.  We flew down with the Montreal Canadiens... the likes of Gump Worsley, John Ferguson, [Jacques] Laperrière, etc. I got many autographs! At North Americans, I fell on our best element in the short program... the death spiral. I lost my edge and we came last... In the long, we skated right after the Kauffman's who had a very long standing ovation! We took the ice with a 'well, we've got nothing to lose' attitude and had the skate of our lives! In those days the long program was a gruelling five minutes long. We got off to a good start with the double flips and then the split double twist and after that it was clear sailing. It's funny when you are relaxed and things click. It was the absolute easiest five minutes I ever skated. We moved up to third place behind the Kauffman's and Starbuck and Shelley. It was an honour to stand on the podium with them."

The pairs podium at the 1969 North American Championships. Photo courtesy Mary Petrie McGillvray.

Another talented Canadian skater, Sandra Bezic, recalled her first trip to the North American Championships thusly: "North Americans were always a party - as much as a party it can be for a twelve or fourteen year old! We always had a blast with the Americans. especially since Val and I trained in Lake Placid in the summer, so we knew a lot of them. It was always judged by protocol so you knew the results before they happened. Except in '69 we came fourth in the short program! We got a standing ovation for our 'Caravan' . Then, of course, we finished in our rightful place – sixth. These competitions were probably a pain in the neck for contenders, but great experience for the young ones, like us."

Mary and Sandra's positive experiences aside, by the time of the women's competition, there was more than the usual amount of squawking among the eleven thousand spectators about the integrity of the judges.

After teenage sensation Janet Lynn won the women's event, Denny Boyd of the "Vancouver Sun" wrote, "Miss [Karen] Magnussen was patently jobbed in the North American Championships at Oakland, when four American judges contrived to give the title to little Janet Lynn of the U.S. The decision was so gamey that many people in the attendance expressed deep concern that there was a cargo of rotting fish unattended at the Oakland fish docks. One Canadian muttered, 'I know what those judges are doing. They're getting even with us for sending them Paul Anka.'"

Peggy Fleming with Janet Lynn at the 1969 North American Championships

Well, as much as that would be a very logical motive for revenge, the chatter about Lynn's victory over Magnussen was a perhaps a little more founded in logic than figure skating's favourite dismissal: the ever convenient 'sour grapes' argument. With four American judges to Canada's three in all four disciplines contested, if there was funny business going on one country was certainly at a disadvantage. The fact that Magnussen had skated particularly well in both the school figures and free skating and all four U.S. judges had given the nod to Lynn fuelled the fire of those crying foul. The women's event, however, was only a small precursor of drama to come.

The ice dance podium in Oakland. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

The final event to be contested was ice dance. World Bronze Medallists Judy Schwomeyer and Jim Sladky were heavily favoured to take home America's fourth gold medal. They trounced the competition in the compulsories. In the OSP, their closest competitors, Canada's Donna Taylor and Bruce Lennie, had finished second in a four/three split down country lines. The four American judges who had placed the American team first gave the top Canadian team a second place ordinal, two third's and a tied fourth. What happened in the free dance was another story entirely. In his 1984 book "The Golden Age Of Canadian Figure Skating", David Young wrote that "the U.S. judges seemed to be tumbling all over themselves to cover up their tracks, and awarded the ice dancing title to Canadian champions Donna Taylor and Bruce Lennie, ranked twelfth in the world, over their own pair Judy Schomeyer and Jim Sladky, ranked third." Lynn Copley-Graves, in her authoritative book "Figure Skating: The Evolution Of Dance On Ice" explained, "After computation of the very close marks, Taylor/Lennie ended in first by the majority of the judges. Schomeyer/Sladky ended second despite first place in the compulsories and free dance, the highest total points, and the lowest total ordinals. Jim Proudfoot of the "Toronto Star" criticized 'the laughably inconsistent judging' and warned the demise of the North American Championships. The bright side is that the couple who was 'supposed' to win did not and the nationalism of an international event did not prevail."

In a February 5, 2002 article in "The Globe And Mail", writer Beverley Smith recalled the controversy in an interview with the referee of the ice dance event at the 1969 North American Championships, Canadian Pierrette Devine: "The top contenders for the gold medal were talented Americans Judy Schwomeyer and James Sladky. The Yankee polka that they performed in the original set-pattern dance at the event was so revered that it eventually became an official compulsory dance. Schwomeyer and Sladky were leading after the original set pattern dance, but Devine was approached before the free dance by a reporter who told her that he knew a Canadian team would win the dance event and that the Americans would finish second. It was a way for the Americans to say thank you for Lynn's victory, he said. 'That's impossible,' Devine scoffed. But then she watched in amazement as Schwomeyer and Sladky won all three portions of the event but still finished second in the final account. 'I sat in the accounting room for an hour, trying to figure that out,' Devine said. 'They had messed with the marks... It seems like they had got a great accountant to figure it out and one or two American judges to do some funny stuff.' Devine complained to both the CFSA and the Canadian dance technical delegate, but she said she was told: 'Shut up. We won.' Devine headed to the hotel bar with her husband, Frank, in tears. There sat the reporter who had heard about the results before the competition ended, as well as Canadian coach Sheldon Galbraith. She told them she was going to quit. Finally, Galbraith took her hand and said: 'Pierrette, just remember one thing before you decide anything: These skaters are better off when you are on that panel. I love it when you are a referee because I know every kid is treated equally.'" Devine pressed on only to retire in 1976 after becoming disillusioned with the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing in the judging world. At the 1969 World Championships in Colorado Springs, a more balanced panel placed Schwomeyer and Sladky in third and Taylor and Lennie eleventh. The scores weren't even close.

Following the competition, the CFSA's Technical Advisory Committee reviewed the judging and concluded that there were "many [examples of] national bias on both sides." It was suggested Joe Geisler, a CFSA director, that a possible solution would be to bring in a European judge or two. Both the USFSA and CFSA balked at the suggestion.

Suna Murray, Karen Magnussen and Janet Lynn on the podium at the 1971 North American Championships. Photo courtesy Mary Petrie McGillvray.

While John McKay, the North American Committee chairman felt the solution was as simple as ensuring the best referee possible was in place, CFSA Executive Director Hugh Glynn tried everything in his power to cancel the 1971 North American Championships in Peterborough, which had already been committed to, because the USFSA initially refused to send Janet Lynn, one of its top skaters. The waters calmed between the two skating federations when Lynn was ultimately named to the North American team.

Left: Toller Cranston at the 1971 North American Championships. Right: Advertisement for the 1971 North American Championships. Photos courtesy "Skating" magazine.

The competition in Peterborough marked the first and last time at the North American Championships that a computer was used to calculate the results. Interestingly, the placements were far less controversial that year than in 1969. In pairs and dance, Americans JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley and Judy Schwomeyer and Jim Sladky were the unanimous choices of every judge. In the women's event, Janet Lynn substituted a double flip for a triple toe-loop and slipped on a double Lutz, handing the victory to a clean Karen Magnussen in six-one vote. John 'Misha' Petkevich also won the men's event in a six-one vote over Toller Cranston. Both men missed triple Salchows in their free skates, and there were minor rumblings from the American side about a 6.0 by Cranston received for artistic impression. However, all in all, the judging controversies that had arisen in 1969 were very much absent from the Peterborough event. That said, Jim Proudfoot noted, "There was a smattering of bitterness at the end when the American team pulled up stakes without skating in the traditional final day exhibition program." Following the event, USFSA officials set to work planning a rematch in Rochester, New York from February 8 to 11, 1973. The Canadians weren't having any of it.

Clipping from Donald Gilchrist's 1973 article "North Americans die" citing further reasons for the cancellation of the North American Championships. Courtesy Marie Petrie McGillvray.

On April 15, 1972 at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Americans F. Ritter Shumway, Benjamin T. Wright and Chuck Foster and Canadians Donald Gilchrist, Hugh Glynn, John McKay and George Blundun met to 'discuss the future' of the North American Championships. The Americans thought they were there to discuss the planning of the 1973 event. They were blindsided by the CFSA's announcement they were withdrawing from the event as they felt "that time had passed by the Championships". The CFSA made a recommendation that the North American Championships be cancelled indefinitely, as it was "in the best interest of both organizations". After discussion, those present voted unanimously in favour of the discussion and voted to recommend to the CFSA and USFSA that the North American Championships be cancelled.

Excerpt from the minutes of the April 15, 1972 meeting. Courtesy Marie Petrie McGillvray.

While some have have suggested that the introduction of Skate Canada International that autumn was far from a coincidence, Donald Gilchrist remarked in a 1989 interview, "We cancelled it because it wasn't panning out and it wasn't fulfilling the objectives I think both countries wanted. On the basis of the judging split, the unhappiness about some of the results and the fact that you can't guarantee some of the best skaters, we said let's call it splits... They [the Americans] agreed to it. We finished the meeting, the Americans left, then we rolled up our shirt sleeves and said, OK, what are we going to do? We talked about Skate Canada and said, OK, we'll do it... Never did we cancel it because of Skate Canada." By that autumn, George Blundon's brainchild - initially named the Canada-Skate International Competition - was all planned out and the CFSA was in talks with Johnny Esaw to cover the event on CTV. As they say, sometimes when one door closes another door opens.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

A Wonder From Warsaw: The Zbigniew Iwasiewicz Story


Uprising after uprising... In 1908, the citizens of Warsaw remained under the rule of the Russian Empire despite three years of ultimately unsuccessful demonstrations, strikes and violent confrontations. Economic conditions in the city were dire and those who weren't hopping mad were largely despondent. It was in January of that year that Warsaw played host to the European Figure Skating Championships for the very first time. An Austrian won, a Russian lost and ten months later, on October 18, 1908, Jan Iwasiewicz and his wife Francis welcomed their son Zbigniew into this world.

The opening of the first artificial rink in Katowice, Poland, circa 1930. Zbigniew Iwasiewcz is the fourth from the left. Photo courtesy National Archives of Poland.

Zbigniew grew up during World War I and a month after his tenth birthday, saw Poland finally restore its sovereignty after one hundred and twenty three years under foreign partition. As the years passed, he developed a keen interest in figure skating and pursued the sport passionately while attending a military college and studying economics. Through skating, he met a beautiful young woman named Jadwiga Cukiert. The couple soon fell in love, formed a pairs partnership and married. Unfortunately, at the time the team of Zofia Bilorówna and Tadeusz Kowalski were absolutely dominant of the discipline in Poland, winning nine consecutive national titles from 1927 and 1935. Bilorówna and Kowalski won the country's first medal at the European Championships in 1934; the Iwasiewicz's remained in Warsaw empty handed. However, the lovebirds ironically found more success on their own than they ever did together. Jadwiga won a local competition in Warsaw, Zbigniew the Polish senior men's title three times consecutively from 1931 to 1933. Never given the opportunity to compete internationally, the couple glided away from the sport.

Senior men's competitors at the 1933 Polish ChampionshipsPhoto courtesy the Przegląd Sportowy. 

Fast forward to the autumn of 1939. In accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, both the Russians and the German Nazi's invaded Poland at the same time. Zbigniew was in the country's eastern territories on business when Stalin's Red Army invaded. He managed to narrowly escape back to Warsaw and his wife, posing as a railway worker. The couple's sense of security was short lived. They were both arrested by the Gestapo and herded like cattle to a concentration camp. Incredibly, they both escaped from the truck and survived World War II!

Photo courtesy National Archives of Poland

After the War, the couple moved to Gydnia for a time then returned to Warsaw, where Zbigniew worked in foreign trade and for the Western Press Agency, even publishing a book on marine issues called "Polskie ziemie zachodnie i pólnocne: zagadnienia morskie" for the Agency. However, like many, Zbigniew watched on in disbelief as the regime of the Communist Polish United Workers' Party implemented a Sovietized sports program and incorporated all sports organizations into a Central Committee Of Physical Culture. He had never lost his passion for skating and felt powerless as he watched on as Poland's just went through the motions, quite possibly terrified to speak up and get the help they needed to compete successfully on an international stage. When the Polish Skating Union broke into two organizations - speed and figure - in 1957, he stepped up to the plate as the very first President of the Polski Zwiazek Lyzwiarstwa Figurowego (Polish Figure Skating Association). At a time when a faction of more liberal Polish Communists seized power in the country after Stalin's death, he became figure skating's unwavering leader. It was a challenging period full of rebuilding and restructuring sports programs in the country yet under Zbigniew's guidance, Polish skaters slowly started seeing more progress and better training conditions than they had in years. Barbara Jankowska and Zygmond Kazmarczyk earned top ten finishes at the European Championships; ice dancers from the country made their international debut.

Photo courtesy National Archives of Poland

Sadly, not long after Zbigniew took the bull by the horns and became Polish skating's biggest advocate in years, his beloved wife Jadwiga passed away. He later remarried but when he passed away on July 8, 1986 at the age of seventy seven, he was buried next to his first wife, the woman he'd skated pairs with, escaped from a concentration camp with and who encouraged him to return to the sport he loved dearly when it needed his help the most.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

The 1982 European Figure Skating Championships

Held the first week of February 1982 at the Charlemagne Ice Rink in Lyon, France, the 1982 European Figure Skating Championships was a particularly compelling competition in that history was made in all four disciplines at the event that year... but not without putting the safety of many of the skaters in jeopardy. Today on the blog, we will take a look back at all of the excitement!


Norbert Schramm

To the pleasure of the French audience, Jean-Christophe Simond won the school figures at the 1982 European Championships ahead of defending champion Igor Bobrin, Heiko Fischer, Norbert Schramm and Vladimir Kotin. In the short program, Simond singled a double Axel and Bobrin stumbled on his jump combination, opening the door for Jozef Sabovčík - who was only seventh in the figures - to win that phase of the event ahead of Schramm, Rudi Cerne and Alexandr Fadeev.

In the free skate, the ordinals were all over the place and it was twenty one year old Norbert Schramm that came out on top. He nailed four triples including the Lutz, his only major error a fall on a triple loop attempt. His victory was not only particularly significant in that he had only placed third at that year's West German Championships: he actually became the first German skater to take the European men's title since the Berlin Wall was erected.

The men's podium

Skating last in the free skate, Simond rallied back with a jam-packed program with six clean triples (including a Lutz and flip) but fell attempting a second triple toe-loop and was hampered by artistic marks that weren't on par with Schramm's. Bobrin claimed the bronze, followed by Cerne, Fadeev, Fischer, Kotin and Sabovčík  . Poland's sole entry at the competition Grzegorz Filipowski finished ninth, skating to "The Impossible Dream" after taking a thirty-six hour train ride to the event. Future World Medallist Todd Sand, then representing Denmark, dropped from eighteenth in the figures to nineteenth overall.


Bronze Medallist Elena Vodorezova

In 1972, Trixi Schuba didn't win the free skate at the European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden. However, she did win the title based on a massive lead in the school figures. The exact same thing happened exactly ten years later in the women's event in Lyon, when Vienna's Claudia Kristofics-Binder became the first Austrian woman since Schuba to take the European title. Like Schuba, Kristofics-Binder won based on her exemplary school figures. She was only third in the short program and free skate, both of which were won by a young upstart from Karl-Marx-Stadt, East Germany you may have heard of named Katarina Witt. Witt skated last in the free skate and managed three triples - two toe-loops and a Salchow - but touched down on a triple flip attempt. Interestingly, Kristofics-Binder actually had the skate of her life in the free skate, matching Witt's effort with three clean triple Salchows but the judges preferred the verve and vitality of Witt and West Germany's Claudia Leistner. Witt's sixth place finish in the figures kept her in second. Elena Vodorezova of the Soviet Union claimed the bronze, followed by Debbie Cottrill of Great Britain, Leistner and Finland's Kristina Wegelius.


Sabine Baeß and Tassilo Thierbach

History was made in the pairs event when East Germans Sabine Baeß and Tassilo Thierbach became the first German team since Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler to win the European title. In fact, they were the first non-Soviet team to win in eighteen years. It hadn't been easy. Defending champions Irina Vorobieva and Igor Livosky had narrowly defeated them in the short program. However, when an injured Irina fell twice in the free skate, it opened the door for Baeß and Thierbach and they met the challenge with an athletic free skate. Another Soviet pair, Marina Pestova and Stanislav Leonovich actually took the silver and Vorobieva and Livoski were forced to settle for bronze ahead of teams from the Soviet Union, East Germany, Great Britain, West Germany, France and Switzerland.


Nineteen teams competed in the ice dance event in Lyon but twenty four year old Jayne Torvill and twenty three year old Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean were in a class of their own. They danced their way to their second consecutive European title with a stunning blues OSP to Larry Adler's "Summertime" and their iconic "Mack And Mabel" free dance. The Britons received eleven 6.0's throughout the competition, setting a new World record at the time... and a trend in their career. A report from the February 6, 1982 issue of "The Globe And Mail" recalled, "[Torvill] and Dean skimmed across the ice so close to each other at times that they appeared as one dancer, a marvel of technique.. Their dancing was light, charming and airy, yet strong."

Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin in Lyon

Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin, students of Tatiana Tarasova, overshadowed their more experienced Soviet teammates Irina Moiseeva and Andrei Minenkov to claim the silver. Lynn Copley-Graves, in her book "Figure Skating History: The Evolution Of Dance On Ice" asserted that despite Bestemianova and Bukin's rise, they still had areas to improve upon in Lyon: "Some skaters skated on the ice, others skated above, but B&B skated into the ice, deeper in than others, digging, cutting, chipping away. You felt sorry for anyone who had to skate after them. The sweet Natalia transformed into a shrew sometimes, a sorcerer at others, as she took to the ice... Their free this year was overchoreographed in places, underchoreographed in other places." In fourth were Soviets Olga Volozhinskaya and Alexandr Svinin, followed by Karen Barber and Nicky Slater of Great Britain.

Top: Toller Cranston in Lyon covering the event for Canadian television. Photo courtesy "Canadian Skater" magazine. Bottom: Postcard from the event.

The real drama at the 1982 European Championships had absolutely nothing to do with figure skating... but it absolutely affected the safety of the skaters. The night before the men's free skate, a bomb went off in the parking lot of the rink. In his book "Jumpin' Joe", Jozef Sabovčík
recalled, "While in the warm-up for the long, I heard a commotion coming from the stands. There were demonstrators in the audience supporting the solidarity movement that was erupting in Poland... As I and the other skaters were standing on the ice, people jumped over the boards, holding banners with the word 'Solidarity' printed on them. The demonstrators began to throw bottles, shattering glass over the ice. We were quickly led off the rink, as security took control of the situation." Many of those shards of glass remained on the ice (which hadn't been flooded) while the final flight of men skated their programs, and the skaters had to keep an eye out for them, worrying both for their safety and jumps at the same time.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

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