German editorial cartoon of skaters at The 1925 European Figure Skating Championships
On February 7 and 8, 1925, a frozen lake in the mountains of the Black Forest, an hour from the small town of Triberg im Schwarzwald in Baden-Württemberg, was the unlikely yet idyllic setting for the 1925 European Figure Skating Championships. The event marked the first time in fifteen years that Germany had played host to the European Championships; the first since the Great War ended. Interestingly, the event also marked the final appearance at the Europeans of the man who finished second at the 1910 European Championships in Berlin... Werner Rittberger, who was credited as the inventor of the loop jump.
Six men from three countries vied for gold in Triberg before a panel of five judges - two from Germany, two from Austria and one from Hungary. Despite poor weather conditions - rain and a thaw - all six skaters performed exceptionally well in the figures. As expected, the two German judges cast their votes for Rittberger. One of the two Austrian judges and the Hungarian judge placed Austria's Willy Böckl first, while the other Austrian judge voted for another Austrian, Otto Preißecker. Despite drawings that a reporter from the "Wiener Sportagblatt" described as "magnificent", Georges Gautschi placed outside of the top three, hampered by the fact that he was the only competitor without a judge on the panel to support him. However, that same reporter noted, "Böckl offered the most consistent performance and created a clear lead mainly by [his] wonderfully soft transitions. Rittberger (Berlin) did much better compulsory exercises as in the previous year in Davos. Dr. Preißecker shone as well, but his tracings were not perfect. [Paul] Franke (Berlin) skated well, but was nevertheless the weakest among the championship candidates."
The following day, the temperature dropped by ten degrees and the sun came out as the six men took the ice to perform their free skating programs. The reporter who covered the event for the "Wiener Sportagblatt" called the event thusly: "In [free] skating Rittberger offered little content, but in the execution gave a first-class performance. Gautschi also did not show too much, but has in the presentation substantially improved. Dr. Preißecker skated nervously and for this reason was a little weaker than we are used to. [Ludwig] Wrede's freestyle was excellent. He succeeded in everything, including the Axel Paulsen backwards. [Willy] Böckl brought a lot of difficulty to his freestyle, but the very unfortunate music inhibited [his performance] and much of its effect was robbed."
After the judge's marks were tallied, four judges still had Bockl first in free skating, while the Hungarian judge tied he and Rittberger. Overall, Böckl easily took the win. Gautschi and Preißecker were close in the free skate, but Preißecker managed to defeat him by four ordinal placings for the bronze. It's interesting to note that Austrian judge Karl Mejstrik had Rittberger, Preißecker, Gautschi and Wrede in a four-way tie for second in the free skate. As he'd won the event twice before, Böckl's win was far from a surprise to anyone. However, Ludwig Wrede's fifth place finish shocked many. He had won the silver medal at the event the year prior and had been considered one of Böckl's main challengers prior to the competition.
Medal from the junior men's event at the 1925 European Championships
In addition the 'main event', a number of other skating titles were decided in Triberg at the European Championships. There were also non-championship classes for senior men and women, junior men and senior pairs. Skaters from the Wiener Eislaufverein - Hugo Distler, Hilde Thiel and Karl Kronfuss - swept the singles events, while Else and Oscar Hoppe of Troppau took the pairs title. Speed skating races were also held, and these were dominated from skaters from Vienna also.
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