#Unearthed: I'm Just Going To Do My Best

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 treasure' is an article called "I'm Just Going To Do My Best", which first appeared in the weekly "Canadian Magazine" on February 7, 1972. Penned by late journalist Douglas Sagi, the article chronicles the career of Karen Magnussen, who would win a silver medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo that year. Lots of interesting tidbits in this one!


The 16,750 seats in the Pacific Coliseum are empty. In the box where the visiting hockey team would sit, a girl's possum-skin coat is carelessly draped over the end of the bench. On the ice is the girl, Karen Magnussen, totally alone, chin down, tongue tight behind her teeth, willing her skates through the brackets, circles and loops of international figure skating.

She is an inch or so taller and much prettier than in 1968 when this magazine reported she was "short, moon-faced, cute but no knockout" in an article that also claimed she probably would become figure skating champion of the world. And 1972 is to be her year. First the Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, then, next month the world championships in Calgary. On April 4, Karen will be 20.

Dark blue eyes, blonde hair cut like a skull cap, a figure to draw double takes (and which she keeps formidable by skipping lunches despite a formidable daily expenditure of energy), muscular legs.

She has been skating in front of crowds since she was 7 and played a snowflake in a Vancouver winter carnival. Her father's parents are Norwegian and she remembers them telling her she was just like Sonja Henie, the Olympic skating and movie star. Karen never saw the late Miss Henie skate. She hasn't seen Barbara Ann Scott either. (Miss Scott won her Olympic title in 1948, four years before Karen was born.)

"I never looked at anyone and said, 'I wish I could skate like her'," says Karen. 'I've just gone out and skated my way."

Her mother Gloria, and coach Linda Brauckmann, have guided her, but never forced her. Mrs. Magnussen herself trained as a figure skating judge in the years Karen was becoming a world-class skater, but she has tried deliberately to avoid becoming a pushy skating mother. "So many of the mothers practically blow the kids' noses for them," says Karen. "Mine never has."

Gloria Magnussen has insisted that Karen, the eldest of three daughters, be something more than the family superstar. In the Magnussen house, this means Karen does practically all the cooking - pineapple chicken, homemade bread and exotic meatballs are specialities - and most of the grocery shopping. Mrs. Magnussen has also encouraged Karen to stay in school, and she has completed one term at Simon Fraser University. The university goal is a general arts degree, then a job in public relations.

An athlete needs something besides sport to provide balance in living, Karen says. Her housework and studies are a relief from the pressures and occasional boredom of the 30 hours a week she spends on the ice and additional time in jogging and physical training. A balanced athlete doesn't need to feel that the only goal is winning, she says.

"I believe it's wrong to go into a competition thinking you will win. The greatest ones who think they are the greatest don't win. I'm not expecting anything in the Olympics. I'm just going to do my best."

If skating were like other sports, Karen's best should be enough. But skating is a screwy complexity of athletics, art and human judgment. If skaters were judged simply on how well they skate, Karen might have been world champion in the Sixties. There were judges who thought she could outskate Petra Burka, the 1966 world champion. But skaters in international competition must also demonstrate that they can do the basic figure exercises that enable them to become expert skaters. Half the marks are given for free skating, the other half for doing compulsory figure movements - tracing repetitive patterns on ice with their skates. It's like insisting that pianists submit to judgment not only on how well they play, but also on how expertly they run through their scales and do their finger exercises.

In the world championships last year, the U.S. champion Janet Lynn and Karen both won more points for free skating that Austria's Beatrix Schuba and another American, Julie Holmes. Yet Miss Schuba won the title and Miss Holmes was second because they scored more heavily in the compulsory figures part of the judging.

The international judges have also been criticized for cliquishly ignoring skaters they haven't seen before - in order words, being prejudiced against newcomers, reasoning that experience at the world level is necessary to produce a true champion.

The judges may be right, but Karen was competing against her fellow Canadian, world champion Petra Burka in 1966 and showing well. Only 14, Karen placed fourth in Canada that year and came close to upsetting Miss Burka in free skating. But in the 1967 world championships in Vienna, she was just a kid from North Vancouver, somewhere in Canada. She placed twelfth.

Jim Proudfoot, sports columnist for the Toronto Daily Star, was not surprised: "Karen's due for disappointment, of course," Proudfoot had written before she competed internationally. "She's unknown at the international level and that means that the judges won't be taking her seriously. What she's got to do in these... competitions is not to win or even come close but to establish herself as one of the world's finest female skaters."

Proudfoot worried that Karen would find the international competitions unpleasant or discouraging. He needn't have. When Miss Schuba won at [Lyon], France last year, Karen went to the Austrian team's victory party, took Miss Schuba across the hall to where the rest of the Canadian skating contingent was grumbling about the judging, and declared: "Now, you are going to applaud the world champion."

Miss Schuba had been booed by skating fans at the [Lyon] Palais des Sports when the victory medal was presented to her. The fans thought that Karen or Miss Lynn, clearly the better free skaters, should have won.

"When they started booing I almost died," Karen says. "It was terrible sportsmanship. Trixi Schuba deserved to win. She'd done her best and won by the rules."

The rules were change in favour of free skaters like Karen, but not until the world championships of 1973. Then the classical figure exercises will be worth only 20 per cent of a skater's total marks instead of the present 50 per cent. Basic free skating exercises - some of the elementary jumps and spins - will be worth another 20 per cent. The remaining 60 per cent will be based on free skating - what people who watch skating go to see, and what skaters like to do best.

The changes will make it easier for Karen, but she wants to win this year, to prove that even under the old rules a skating artist is better than a technician.

At 9 a.m., an hour after her workout begins in the Pacific Coliseum, Karen has covered half the hockey rink with the classical figures. She pauses from time to time, head down, hands on hips, gliding backwards, searching for the flaws that judges might spot.

The figures must be done on one edge of one skate blade. The judges will get down on their hands and knees in competitions and check each line to make sure that it is single (a double line means the skater has slipped on to the bottom of the skate blade). Each figure must be traced at least three times - some are traced six times - and perfection is only one line on the ice.

Linda Brauckmann, Karen's coach, appears for the second hour of the work-out. Mrs. Brauckmann sticks with her pupil, making her go over and over the figures. A slender autocrat who chain-smokes cigarettes, Mrs. Brauckmann has been concentrating on building up a sense of self-discipline in Karen.

Mrs. Brauckmann is regarded by some skating coaches as a revolutionary - a designer of unique skating programs for the four-minute period of free skating in competitions. She admits she tries to be less rigid than other coaches. "I like to get close to the purity of skating. A lot of edges simply means skating - no stunts and tricks, just lots of long flowy movements."

Each world skater brings along to competitions her own music on a specially cut four-minute recording. Over the years, the music has tended to be heavily classical with full orchestration. Mrs. Brauckmann was among the first to select piano music for her skaters. "I used piano music because I liked it," she says. This year Karen will skate to four minutes of Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F.

"I love it," she says. "It's really gutsy. I have to be turned on by music. When I'm skating I listen to the power in it, and it moves me."

Not all skaters are good athletes, but Mrs. Brauckmann thinks they should be. A four-minute free skating routine does not require the exceptional endurance of an Olympic long-distance runner, and the compulsory figures part of skating requires little physical effort once the skills are mastered. But Linda Brauckmann thinks skaters owuld be much better equipped for the intense concentration that is necessary for both skating and figure routines if they were in better condition. "It's only a four-minute skate in competition, but there's no reason why it shouldn't be an all-out run like a four-minute mile. Karen should be in the same shape as a four-minute miler."

Quick to agree is Tom Walker, Simon Fraser football coach and a specialist in physical training. He's been helping Karen - specifically helping her to learn how to breathe more efficiently.

Endurance athletes can use more oxygen than sprinters. They can keep going longer than the others because they have trained their hearts and lungs to get more oxygen out of each breath of air. This training involves regularly stressing the heart and lungs to the limits of endurance, virtually to the point of exhaustion, recovering, and then repeating the stress.

It is not good enough if an athlete simply gets his heart beating fast and then stops, as sprinters do. Walker says the heart must be kept going hard - say 150 beats a minute - for several minutes before the heart musicle gets any value from the training. So, instead of her daily training program with a four-minute run-through of her free-skating program, Karen rests for a moment, then goes back on the ice for at least half an hour of hard endurance skating.

She goes to a laboratory at Simon Fraser four times a week for endurance runs on an Ergometer, which is a contraption something like an exercise bicycle with attachments to measure heart beat and breathing rate. She breathes into a mouthpiece connected to a box so researchers can measure the amount of oxygen she consumes with each breath. In figures, it is 47.6 millilitres of oxygen per minute for each kilogram of body weight, about 12 millilitres more than an average girl.

"That's not bad," says Walker. "An average Olympic athlete is in that range. A long-distance runner could be as high as 70 to 74 millilitres, maybe more. We're shooting for 60 millitres for Karen. That's about the same as a cross-country skier. She'll be up there in time for the Olympics, if she keeps following her program."

Karen's present physical condition is already quite pleasing to most observers, including, late in the morning, Babe Pratt, assistant to the vice-president of the National Hockey League Vancouver Canucks. He has emerged from the Canuck offices officially to check the ice before a team practice, but actually to watch Karen end her workout with a few minutes of free skating.

"Hi, Mr. Pratt. I'll be done in a minute."

"Take all the time you need - we're gonna be late getting on the ice anyway," says Pratt. "And the way this team's been going they should give up all their ice time for you." (That day, the Canucks were in the cellar.)

The Magnussen house on a crescent cut into a mountain on the north shore of Burrard Inlet is a happy place headed by a balding real estate agent named Alf. He is a man surrounded by women, and he enjoys it.

Gloria Magnussen admits she is more of a secretary to Karen than a mother, but her idea of raising daughters is to have them learn housework by doing it. Mrs. Magnussen therefore looks after Karen's mail - as many as 20 letters a day during skating season - Karen cooks; and her sisters, Lori, 16 and Judy, 14, do the other chores.

The younger girls both figure skated, much like Karen, says their mother, but they gave up competing and training. Lori and Judy were both as talented as Karen, Mrs. Magnussen says, but they lacked the determination to concentrate on the compulsory figures. She says Karen's drive, a combination of a desire to win and please her coaches and parents, is what sets her apart on the ice.

Alf Magnussen is a quiet man, successful in real estate, happy that he has been able to afford the maintenance of an international ice skater. (Most of the expense is in coaching lessons and travel expenses for Karen and Mrs. Brauckmann, and it has totalled thousands of dollars since 1967, the year Karen started international competitions.) He is concerned that there are girls of talent in less fortunate homes who will not get the chance that Karen has unless governments increase financial aid to amateur sports.

Karen is receiving some help. At the urging of the National Fitness and Amateur Spoirts Council in Ottawa, the Pacific National Exhibition has donated the use of the Coliseum - it means the cost of lighting the place for a couple of hours and flooding the ice when she's finished - but her training conditions are still not ideal.

"Hockey ice is hard - it's kept at a temperature lower than good figure skating ice," she says. "I can tell the difference. It's like being on concrete instead of a trampoline. It really is."

Apart from the bills, Karen's parents have been affected in other ways, particularly in 1969 when doctors discovered that severe pain in both of Karen's legs was caused by stress fractures - tiny hairline breaks - in the bones below her knees, the result of too much strain on bones that were too young to take it. Had the Magnussen's pushed Karen too hard? They concluded that they hadn't. Karen was skating because Karen wanted to skate. She sat out three months of competition in a wheel chair, both legs in casts. The decision to resume skating was hers and there was no doubt in her mind that she would be back.

Karen Magnussen at the 1970 World Championships

"There were rumours that I was giving up, that I couldn't take it any more, but I was skating again a few months later." And in 1970, a year after the mishap, she recaptured the Canadian championship she had first won in 1968.

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": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.

Jamboree On Ice

Photo courtesy "World Ice Skating Guide"

There were really three categories of ice shows in North America in the fifties and sixties - big tours (like the Ice Follies, Ice Capades and Holiday On Ice), long-running hotel shows and small-scale 'for hire' outfits that staged ice shows here, there and everywhere. These smaller companies usually consisted of anywhere between four to twenty skaters and a small portable 'tank' ice rink. They'd set up shop in some of the most unlikely places - nightclubs and taverns, fairs, auto and industrial trade shows, sporting events and shopping centers - sometimes for one night only; sometimes for months at a time. The pay usually wasn't great, the work wasn't always consistent and often the skaters had to help with set-up and tear-down, postering and ticket-taking. If life in 'the big shows' was indeed glamorous, touring with a smaller outfit was often anything but.

There were over a dozen of these smaller-scale shows operating in North America in the fifties and sixties. Pioneers in this field like Ruth McGowan and Everett Mack faced stiff competition from California's George Arnold Productions, Georg von Birgelen's "Symphony On Ice", Wilma and Ed Leary's Leary Ice Productions, Blonda and Paul LeDuc's "Frosty Follies", Jo Barnum and Jane Broadhurst's "Almanac On Ice", Jack Kelly's "Ice Frolics", the "John Flanagan Ice Show", Earl Dunn's "Ice Royals", John Melendez' "Ice-A-Rama", Harry Hirsch's "Icetime"  and Chicago and New York based units "Ice Varieties" and "International Ice Capers", which specialized in fairs and amusement parks.

Photo courtesy "World Ice Skating Guide"

One of the most successful and longest running smaller-scale ice shows of this period was "Jamboree On Ice". The show was the brainchild of Robin Nelson, a former Holiday On Ice skater from Chicago. Robin's first engagement was a production at a private Gaslite key club in Chicago run by Burton Browne. The show opened on April Fool's Day in 1955 and a two-week engagement turned into a year long run. The key club seated only eighty five people but its members loved the novelty of watching skating while drinking scotch and smoking cigars.

In the years that followed, "Jamboree On Ice" went on the road, appearing everywhere from the
Gregg Exposition and Livestock Show in Longview, Texas to Harrah's Lake Tahoe in Nevada to the Cocoa Beach in Cape Canaveral and Florida's first motel, the one-hundred room Starlite. The show only had four to six skaters, including Robin - who doubled as producer and star.

In 1957, Robin brought the show north to Canada for an engagement at the Rancho Don Carlos Cabaret-Restaurant in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In what would have been rare for the period, 'unaccompanied ladies' were permitted to attend the production. In 1961, the "World Ice Skating Guide" recalled one of the show's most unique gigs: "One of the most unusual experiences was an engagement at Chicago's 'Brass Rail'. You've heard of piano bars? Well, Robin at the Brass Rail placed his rink right on top of the bar! Using a tiny 7 1/2 ft. by 10 ft. rink the 'Jamboree' ice show was a success and became one of the most popular night spot shows. A Chicago reporter described it as 'ice skating in a phone booth'."

In addition to solo, comedy and adagio acts brought to life with flashy costumes and lighting effects, "Jamboree On Ice" set itself apart by including magic acts. In his book "The Magical Life of Marshall Brodien: Creator of TV Magic Cards and Wizzo the Wizard", John Moehring recalled, "When Robin had a ten-month run at the Gaslight Club on Rush Street [in Chicago], he had choreographed a sequence that centered on a classic illusion, the Temple of Benares. A tiny model of an East Indian temple glided onstage, and a skater crawled inside. A dozen sharp swords were thrust into all four sides and through the roof of the temple. Then, the front doors were opened, showing the girl had disappeared. The doors were closed and, as the tempo of 'Song of India' accelerated, the ice-chorines skated around the temple while Robin quickly removed the swords. A crescendo from the band, and the girl majestically popped through the roof doors of the temple." Robin had bought 'the temple' from a retired illusionist named Jack Gwynne.

"Jamboree On Ice" continued to operate what he billed as "The Largest Ice Cube In The World" until the late sixties, when the success of other productions began affecting Robin's bottom line. Though 'the big shows' are more historically remembered, shows like "Jamboree On Ice" have an important place in skating history.

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": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.

A Short History Of Skating Siblings

Kate Greenaway's illustration "Brother And Sister". Photo courtesy New York Public Library.

Throughout figure skating's rich history, the masses have loved a good romance. What could be more appealing to the general public's sensibilities than a couple whose feelings for one another transcended the ice?  It makes a great story, right?

Though many champion pairs and ice dance teams have had off-ice relationships, countless others were subjected to the endless speculations of "are they or aren't they?" In 'skating's early days', many on-ice couples who had no romantic interest in one another were creepily asked by photographers to "just give us a little kiss for the camera". Heaven forbid two people just enjoyed skating together and wanted to win some medals.

The tired argument that "a brother and sister dance team couldn't express romance on the ice, so their skating couldn't possibly be as beautiful to watch" has been peddled for decades. Sadly, these kinds of comments have long plagued skating siblings and influenced the perceptions of their abilities and potential.

The reality of the matter is that siblings have been skating together as long as there has been ice... and they've been doing a tremendous job of it despite the prejudices they've sometimes faced along the way. Today's blog looks back at some of the sport's most famous siblings... and the history they made.

Constance and Bud Wilson. Photo courtesy City Of Toronto Archives.

In 1905, Ottawa siblings Katherine and Ormonde Haycock won the first Canadian title in pairs skating. They defended their title in 1906 and in 1908, Ormonde and his other sister Aimée took the title. The Haycock's would pave the way for Toronto siblings Constance and Montgomery 'Bud' Wilson, who went on to win five Canadian pair titles from 1929 to 1934 and become the first sibling pair to win the North American title. Lindis and Jeffery Johnston became the first sibling pair to win a Canadian dance title in 1955, a feat they repeated the following year. The first time two Canadian sisters won a competition together was in 1939, when Hazel and Dorothy Caley were members of the top-placing Toronto four at the North American Championships. They never got to enjoy their victory though. The deed of gift for the Connaught Cup (awarded to the champions) required that all members of a four represented the same club. The Caley's were Granite Club members and their teammates were from the Cricket Club, so the Cup was awarded to the second place team.

Left: Grace and James Lester Madden. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine. Right: Maia and Alex Shibutani.

Boston's Grace and James Lester Madden became the first sibling pair to win a U.S. pairs title in New Haven in 1935. Incredibly, a sibling ice dance team didn't manage to top the U.S. senior dance podium until 2016, when Maia and Alex Shibutani finally claimed the title.

The first sibling pair to win a European title were Jennifer and John Nicks, who claimed gold in 1953. They subsequently became the second sibling pair to win a World title the following year. The first were Seattle siblings Karol and Peter Kennedy in 1950.

Karol and Peter Kennedy

In 1962, Czechoslovakian ice dancers Eva Romanová and Pavel Roman won their first of four consecutive World titles, cementing their place in history as the first sibling ice dance team to win gold at Worlds. Not all champion skating siblings in the fifties and sixties were pairs skaters or ice dancers. There were, of course, the famous Jenkins brothers - Hayes and David - who both won Olympic gold medals and dominated the World Championships for seven years straight. It was the first and only time two brothers both won the Olympic and World titles.

Ilse and Erik Pausin, a brother and sister from Vienna, made history as the first sibling pair to win an Olympic medal in 1936. Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay, Canadians skating for France, were the first sibling dance team to win an Olympic medal in 1992. Critics of the unique duo used the fact that they were brother and sister as a 'go-to' argument in their case that ice dancing wasn't ice dancing unless there was a suggestion of romance. In her book "Figure Skating History: The Evolution Of Dance On Ice", Lynn Copley-Graves argued, "Did dance have to be an interaction between two lovers? As sister and brother, Isabelle and Paul could not bring out this aspect of dance because of its potential incestual overtones. Other successful dance partners had been siblings: Eva Romanová and Pavel Roman, The Becherers, the Becks, and the Garossinos. Some cultures used dance to celebrate reaching manhood or as an offering to gods. Others used dance to celebrate the joy of life, as a catharsis in times of turmoil. Round dances and country folk dances needed no sexual overtones. In the broadest sense, dance could range between movement for lovers to movement for movement's sake. Dance could tell a story, paint pictures, or explore feeling from music."

The rest of the history of skating siblings is unwritten. There are still plenty of 'firsts' to achieve - an Olympic gold medal and World titles won by two sisters among those. Who are your favourite skating siblings? Share your thoughts on social media.

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": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.

The Harlem-On-Ice Tour

Less than a decade after Mabel Fairbanks had been turned away from the Gay Blades Ice Casino on Broadway and 52nd Street in New York and told "blacks didn't skate there", a small group of skaters of colour regularly practiced together at the ice rink at Rockefeller Center. 

Sterling Bough. Photo courtesy Lisa Fernandez.

The group included fifteen year old Armida Ambrose, Joseph Vanterpool, a former G.I. who had taken up skating after seeing an ice show while on a Tour of Duty in England, and Sterling Bough and Jimmy McMillan, dancers who later headlined a European tour of Larry Steele's Smart Affairs show in Europe. Sterling was the son of Juanita (Boisseau) Ramseur, a legendary Cotton Club performer who danced with Lena Horne in the early thirties. This group was largely self-taught, and none of them would have had the opportunity to join the big touring ice shows of the time because of the colour of their skin.

Top: Harlem-On-Ice group shot. Bottom: Jimmy McMillan. Photos courtesy Lisa Fernandez.

The idea of an ice show with an all-African American cast had first been floated by Elizabeth and Fritz Chandler in 1946. They'd reached out to Mabel Fairbanks, who had made a huge name for herself in California, but were unsuccessful in their efforts to convince her to return to New York to perform in the show. Mabel's reluctance to headline such a show proved extremely wise, for the idea was soon scrapped. Another skater, Venita Holquina 'Lucky' Berea Petersen, was instead cast in the Chandler's show "Derby On Ice". The September 7, 1946 issue of "The Greater Omaha Guide" recalled, "As a known inferior skater to Mabel, Lucky... skates nightly at Iceland in N.Y. to the tune of 'Shortening Bread' after being announced as 'our little Negro skater'. Mabel's music [in 'Hollywood On Ice' in California] will be international and her part will be as an American."

In the summer of 1947, John Brett (who had produced the ice shows at New York's Hotel St. Regis) and Stewart Seymour of the Musical Entertainment Agency put together a cast of the skaters of colour that practiced at the Rockefeller Center rink. 

"Harlem-On-Ice" was billed as the first skating tour to feature an "all-Negro cast". A seventeen year old skater named Dolores Jackson and Jimmy McMillan were cast as the headliners. They were supported by ensemble of 'Harlem Ice-Ballet Dears' and popular jazz musician Gene Sedric and his orchestra. The show was set on a four hundred square foot portable ice tank, and the organizer's plan was to hold auditions in each city the show was performed to grow the cast.

An article promoting the tour from the October 4, 1947 issue of "The Pittsburgh Courier" raved, "The extravaganza-on-ice, staged by John Brett, famed ice show producer, sets a new high mark for dazzling beauty, brilliant color and kaleidoscopic action. [There are] four thrilling acts, 'Panama', 'Katie Went To Haiti', 'Frankie and Johnnie' and the spectacular 'Harlem-On-Ice' grand finale. Each spotlights a series of striking modern ice skating ballet sequences featuring the Harlem Ice-Ballet Dears, the sensational Gay Blades quartet, Whirlwind Jimmy McMillan and the 17-year old Queen of the Ice, Dolores, whose incomparable beauty, grace and technique and almost incredible speed on the ice have won her stardom despite her youth."

Dolores Jackson and Jimmy McMillan

Dates in smaller centers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Illinois had already been announced when the Harlem-On-Ice tour made its debut at Turner's Arena in Washington, D.C. on October 5, 1947 as part of a variety night of Vaudeville-style entertainment. 

The tour was abruptly cancelled after a short run for reasons we can only speculate on. Two vastly different reasons were provided in African American newspapers of the day. A clipping from a September 1947 issue of the Los Angeles based "California Eagle" reported that Mabel Fairbanks' manager Wally Hunter had threatened the organizers with a one hundred thousand dollar lawsuit. Mabel was to have been "featured as the star in the production and was merely waiting to begin work, but as yet she had not been called by Brett. As a result Miss Fairbanks has refused work on other jobs." Another account by Elmer Anderson Carter in the National Urban League's "Opportunity" journal claimed that in D.C. the tour's "manager decided their rare performance detracted from the major show. The members of the 'Harlem-On-Ice' cast returned to New York with a full determination to further the Negro in the world famous sport of ice skating."

Though the Harlem-On-Ice tour never made it off the ground after its debut in D.C., its role in skating history is an important one. It was the first skating production in history to feature an all-African American cast... during a time when that simply wasn't done because of racism. When the show went on tour, Jim Crow laws and constitutional provisions meant that public schools, transportation, restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains in America's capital were segregated.

Sadly, the story of the Harlem-On-Ice tour isn't one that can really be fully told based on the little information that was published in newspapers and journals. So many mysteries remain. Was the motivation of the tour's organizers to genuinely showcase the talents of a pioneering group of New York skaters of colour or to exploit them? Why was the tour really cancelled? What were the skaters told when it was? Were they paid? How did they get back to New York? Sometimes history leaves us with more questions than answers.

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": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.

The 1996 Canadian Figure Skating Championships

Top news stories included the Bosnian War and the tragic crash of Birgenair Flight 301 in the Dominican Republic. The film "Mr. Holland's Opus" had just reached number one at the box office in its second week of release. Joan Osborne had a number-one single with "One Of Us" and two novel new creations - the scented crayon and stuffed crust pizza - captured people's imaginations.

From February 7 to 11, 1996, all eyes were on the nation's capital when three hundred and twenty three of Canada's top figure skater's battled it out at the 1996 Canadian Figure Skating Championships. Sponsored by Royal Bank, the event was spread over two venues - the Ottawa Civic Centre and Jim Durrell Recreation Complex. The latter venue played host to all of the novice events and the junior women's and pairs short and compulsory dances, with all senior events being held at the Civic Centre. All-event ticket packages went for one hundred and ten dollars and nearly sold out a year prior to the competition.

World Champions Barbara Ann Scott and Donald Jackson acted as co-chairs for the event, signing autographs and doing interviews to promote the competition. With Rod Black, Barb Underhill, Dan Matheson and Rob Faulds on its commentary team, CTV upped its coverage from the year prior. Leading up to the competition, Donald Jackson had performed in the Governor-General's New Year's celebration and Toller Cranston had performed in a Winterlude ice show at the Civic Centre called "The Great Canadian Ice Breaker", priming local audiences for the skating showdown ahead.

At the opening press conference, David Dore gave a speech which reporters interpreted as"fire and brimstone", repeatedly stressing the importance of young skaters being taking risks and being more aggressive on the ice. In an interview with Cam Cole of "The Edmonton Journal", Elvis Stojko responded, "If [the CFSA] is willing to lend a hand, keep it in balance, enough just to keep them on track, then it's a positive thing. Putting too much pressure on - gotta have the triple Axel at sixteen or you're not going to make it - that's the other side. Kids are going to be so stressed by that time, who wants to compete like that? That's not why they compete." How did those 'kids' fare? Let's take a look back!


Oshawa's Sean Kelly came from behind to win the novice men's event over Carl Des Rosiers and Clinton Petersen. Petersen, who led after the short program, also finished second in novice pairs with his partner Ashley Poole for the second year in a row. That title was won by Marni Wade and Lenny Faustino. One of the more talked about skaters in the novice men's event was thirteen year old hometown favourite Fedor Andreev. Andreev, the son of Marina Zoueva, was making his debut at Canadians and had been mentored by the late Sergei Grinkov. Rebounding from a sixth place finish in the short program, he landed two triples to finish second in the free skate and fourth overall.

Martine Dagenais

Daniel Béland's students Marie-Eve Vezina and Martine Dagenais took the gold medals in the novice and junior women's events. It was the first time Lac-Brome, Quebec's Dagenais had even qualified to compete at the Canadians. The novice dance title went to Barrie's Jessica Nake and Robert Kiricsi, while the junior title was won by a pair of nineteen year olds, Jonathan Pankratz of Chateauguay, Quebec and Dara Henderson of Collingwood, Ontario. Henderson was Pankratz' seventh partner in eight years and their win was quite remarkable, considering they had placed only third at that year's Sectionals.

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

Samantha Marchant and Chad Hawse took the junior pairs title, while the junior men's title was won by Toronto's Collin Thompson, who trained in Lake Arrowhead with Frank Carroll, alongside soon-to-be World Champion Michelle Kwan. The silver and bronze medallists in junior men's, Jayson Dénommée and Ben Ferreira, would both go on to win medals in the senior men's event at Canadians. Ben Ferreira landed a rare triple Axel in his free skate.


Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz

As predicted, nineteen year old Shae-Lynn Bourne and twenty-four year old Victor Kraatz took a commanding lead after the Silver Samba and Tango Romantica and Paso Doble original dance enroute to winning their fourth consecutive Canadian dance title. Due to some serious partner swapping, Bourne and Kraatz and Janet Emerson and Steve Kavanagh were the only two couples of the top five at the 1995 Canadians in Halifax to return in 1996. Michel Brunet had parted ways and teamed up with Patrice Lauzon's partner Chantal Lefebvre; Lauzon had paired with Marie-France Dubreuil, who had placed fourth in 1995 with Tomas Morbacher. In the lead-up to the event, Brunet had ended up in "Frank" magazine after he got into a scrap with Juan Carlos Noria at the Minto Skating Club that ended up with the cops being called to the rink.

The ice dance podium. Photo courtesy "American Skating World" magazine.

Bourne and Kraatz took the gold in Ottawa with an outstanding performance, with Lefebvre and Brunet taking the silver over Emerson and Kavanagh. Following their win, Shae-Lynn Bourne told reporters, "Performance-wise, that felt great. We'll sit back and analyze this before the Worlds and fix up little things you might not notice that we can feel." 


Left: Josée Chouinard. Right: Jennifer Robinson.

One of the biggest stories in Ottawa was the comeback of Josée Chouinard. The three-time Canadian Champion had reinstated from the professional ranks and won a bronze medal at Skate Canada and a gold at the Trophée de France in the autumn, in the first ever Champions Series. She wasn't the only skater mounting a comeback. Twenty-three year old Shannon Allison, a coach and student at Simon Fraser University from Langley, B.C. had won the bronze medal at the 1988 Canadian Championships in Victoria but hadn't competed at the Canadians since 1989, when she placed fifth. Since then, she went through a divorce, battled an eating disorder, suffered several injuries and twice missed making it out of Divisionals by one spot. 

Jean-Michel Bombardier and Josée Chouinard. Photo courtesy Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

In the short program, Josée Chouinard won over the judges and audience alike with a charming performance to "Comme ci, Comme ça" but struggled on her combination jump. Nineteen year old Jennifer Robinson, who'd thrice missed her triple Lutz in the warm-up, managed to put it all together but lost to Chouinard in a six-three split of the judging panel. Twenty-one year old Cathy Belanger landed a triple Lutz and flip but faltered on her double Axel to finish third. Susan Humphreys sat fourth, and defending champion Netty Kim - missing all three of her jumping passes - placed seventh.

Sadly, Josée Chouinard had a bit of a meltdown in the free skate, losing the title many assumed would be hers to Jennifer Robinson. Susan Humphreys landed four triples to Robinson's two, but was only able to move up to third. Netty Kim placed seventh, four spots ahead of Shannon Allison. After her loss, Chouinard was inconsolable. In her book "All That Glitters", Chouinard recalled, "I have had low points in my life, but this was the absolute lowest. It sounds selfish of me to say, but at the time, the agony felt as bad as it did when I lost my Dad. I wanted to run away and hide. I don't recollect standing on the podium. I've totally blocked it out, but I do remember feeling like I'd fallen down a very deep black hole." Susan Humphreys recalled,  "It was hard to watch Josée cry... I was holding her hand before we went out for the medals. She's so nice and so beautiful, and she's never done a mean thing to anyone in her life." Chouinard's coach Louis Stong said, "When she came off, she was in shock, I would say. No reaction other than just stunned, like she'd just witnessed a car accident." Jennifer Robinson told reporters, "Honestly, I wasn't expecting [to win] at all. I was hoping to win, but Josée [was as] well. She's Josee Chouinard! I expected to see her name there, not mine." After the women's free skate, Barbara Ann Scott went up to Barbara Underhill brandishing a piece of paper. She exclaimed, "I counted twenty nine splats!"  


Michelle Menzies and Jean-Michel Bombardier

The Skate Gods weren't exactly smiling on the pairs in Ottawa. Though the defending champions, twenty-three year old Michelle Menzies and twenty-five year old Jean-Michel Bombardier, appeared destined for a perfect skate in the short program, a freak fall in the short program marred what was an otherwise perfect performance. Eight out of nine judges still had them first. Bombardier had little sleep prior to the free skate, spending a restless night consoling his girlfriend Josée Chouinard. In a practice session after the short program, Kristy Sargent and Kris Wirtz hit a rut in the middle of a lift. They took a horrific fall, with Wirtz hitting his head on the ice and suffering a concussion and Sargeant wrenching her knee and suffering cuts and scrapes to her shoulder. Both were hospitalized briefly but decided to take the ice for the free skate. Their coach, Kris' brother Paul, told reporters, "I don't worry about their willingness to skate. Last year when he got up, Kris was so sick he couldn't walk, and they went out and did their long program, anyway. So I know they want to try, it's just the quality of what they can do. If he's not one hundred per cent, you're endangering the girl.''

Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz

Three minutes and fifteen seconds into Sargeant and Wirtz's performance, the fire alarm went off in the Civic Centre. Once the alarm was silenced, the pair was given the option of starting over or picking up where they left off. Wirtz told the referee, "Are you nuts? I may not make it to the end as it is." The team managed to finish their program in fine fashion, but weren't able to catch up with Menzies and Bombardier, who had gave an outstanding performance. Marie-Claude Savard-Gagnon and Luc Bradet edged Jodeyne Higgins and Sean Rice for the bronze.

Higgins and Rice teamed up with Alison Purkiss and Scott MacDonald to win the fours competition for the fourth year in a row. Purkiss and MacDonald had been part of Kerry Leitch's winning four in both 1994 and 1995.


When Elvis Stojko was forced to withdraw from the 1995 Canadians in Halifax after an injury sustained in practice, Brossard, Quebec's Sébastien Britten had won the Canadian men's title. Stojko returned to the national stage in Ottawa happy, healthy and landing triple Axels left, right and center. He was one of three men to land the triple Axel in the short program, easily taking the lead over Britten and Christensen, who didn't attempt one. The other two men to land the Axel were Stéphane Yvars and Matthew Hall. They were ranked fifth and ninth, forcing the question as to what David Dore's message of 'aggressiveness' really meant at the end of the day. There was certainly some discussion about the judging. Both David Pelletier and Daniel Bellemare's ordinals ranged from second to twelfth, while Marcus Christensen's ranged from second to eighth. Both Stéphane Yvars and Jeffrey Langdon had marks putting them from third to seventh. One skating fan quipped that was "a lot to ask from consistency from the skaters if the judges couldn't give the same."

Left: Elvis Stojko. Right: Marcus Christensen. Photos courtesy "American Skating World" magazine.

In the free skate, Marcus Christensen suffered a mishap when his boot strap broke but managed to skate creditably to take the bronze behind Britten. Stojko was in a class by himself, returning to his winning "1492" free skate from the 1995 World Championships after ditching a program to music from the film "Last Of The Mohicans" which didn't work for him. He wasn't perfect, but he attempted a quad - which none of his competitors did. After winning, Stojko told reporters, "I wanted to take a step here, peel off another layer of the program, and I accomplished most of the stuff I went in hoping to do. But it's never easy when you go out. Never. I'm human."

Thanks to a generous donation of VHS tapes by Skate Guard reader Maureen, you can take a trip back in time and rewatch highlights of the 1996 Canadian Championships in digitized video form. The YouTube playlist, which includes several of the medal-winning free skates from the senior events, can be found above or at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6c_NN6KdCfLmwh5y7Drm3eXjorGDWxbb.

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 figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.

Playing With Fire: The Venita Berea Petersen Story

Photo courtesy "World Ice Skating Guide"

The daughter of Emma (McKinnie) and Dr. Solomon Petersen, Venita Holquina Berea 'Lucky' Petersen was born August 15, 1927 in New York, New York. She was named after her paternal grandmother Venita. Her mother came from North Carolina; her father was from the Colombian island of San Andrés, in the Caribbean sea off the coast of Nicaragua. 

As a teenager, Venita had her first exposure to figure skating in Central Park. "I took my roller skates and tried using those," she said. Her grandmother bought her a pair of ice skates and she taught herself the basics of the sport.

Photo courtesy "The National Ice Skating Guide"

After being 'discovered' at the Iceland rink in 1946, Venita was cast in a show called "Derby On Ice" on an outdoor stage at the rink's restaurant alongside Carol Lynne, a star of the Centre Theatre and billed as the "champion sepia skatress". To say her start in the sport was controversial would be to put things mildly. Skater/producer Elizabeth Chandler and her husband Fritz had originally wanted to put on an an ice show with an all-black cast starring Mabel Fairbanks instead of "Derby On Ice". 

An article from the September 7, 1946 issue of "The Greater Omaha Guide" recalled, "Mrs. Chandler finally disbanded the proposed all-Negro show and quickly put an unknown Negro skater, [Holquina] 'Lucky' Petersen into a white show. Why Mrs. Chandler had not secured the same spot for Mabel was never known but conclusions amounted to this: either Producer Chandler was afraid Mabel would skate circles around any other skater she had featured and thus steal [the] show, or after realizing she was a potential money maker, by underpaying her as a star performer on the theory that it was a 'break' and that Negro ice skaters couldn't be choosy. In any event, Mrs. Chandler's many letters and wires to Mabel in Hollywood pleading her to return [to New York] were a failure because Mabel stuck out for the right thing and waited for a better chance. That chance is 'Hollywood On Ice' which will be the first time a Negro has joined the cast as an equal. Lucky Petersen, a Spanish-looking girl, does not have that equal chance. As a known inferior skater to Mabel, Lucky... skates nightly at Iceland in N.Y. to the tune of 'Shortening Bread' after being announced as 'our little Negro skater'. Mabel's music will be international and her part will be as an American." We should absolutely admire Mabel for sticking to her principles. However, it is important to recognize that Venita skating that particular number in the show would have been one of very few opportunities she would have had as a Latino skater with darker skin hoping to embark on a professional skating career just after World War II ended.

After the Iceland show, Venita joined Elizabeth and Fritz Chandler's "Hielo y Estrellas" tour of South America, performing on a portable ice rink in the forties in such exotic locales as Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Barquismieto, Maracaibo and Caracas. As a skater of Latin American heritage she was a rarity in the professional skating scene. She recalled that on the South American tour there were "thirty-two blondes, one redhead and one brunette - me."

Photo courtesy "World Ice Skating Guide"

Throughout the fifties, Venita made a name for herself in show biz as a singer and dancer. One of her gigs was a dance act in the Voodoo Calypso at Chicago's Blue Angel night club. The show was a wild affair featuring "drums, Haitian chanting, singers, dancers and a guy who's handy at monkeying with the lights during the climax of a dance to simulate lightning."

As a skater, Venita performed in theatres, nightclubs and fairs in shows such as Ice Varieties, Silver Skates, Robin Nelson's Jamboree On Ice, Georg von Birgelen's Symphony On Ice and the Frosty Follies. Sometimes skating on ice cubes as small as nine by twelve inches, her unique act featured "Latin, Spanish, Hawaiian and Oriental interpretive dances" and employed the use of fire torches. She'd open or close every performance by singing a song.

Photo courtesy Lisa Fernandez

Venita began coaching skating in Chicago in the sixties at the Lake Meadows skating rink and taught for three decades, supplementing her income by performing dance acts in places like the Empire Room Supper Club at the Langford Hotel in Orlando.

Venita was involved in show business her entire life, dancing in senior's ballroom dancing contests and singing every chance she got. In 2011, she and her husband (an Elvis Presley impersonator) auditioned for the show "X-Factor". She passed away at the age of ninety on September 26, 2017 in Pahrump, Nevada after a long struggle with Alzheimer's Disease, her unique contributions as a pioneering Latino skater sadly overlooked.

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": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.

It Takes A Village

Anett Pötzsch, Frau Jutta Müller and Jan Hoffmann

The internet and social media have brought coaches from the background to center stage in recent years. Just ask Brian Orser. Just before the Sochi Olympics where his student Yuzuru Hanyu struck gold, Google searches for his name in Japan's Kanagawa Prefecture skyrocketed. In the nineties, the names Evy and Mary Scotvold, Diane Rawlinson and Dody Teachman became part of pop culture after the attack on Nancy Kerrigan. In the eighties, the introduction of the kiss n' cry brought colourful characters like Frau Jutta Müller and Alex McGowan into our living rooms.

The fact of the matter is, figure skating coaches are some of the hardest working people in this world. They're hard-wired with knowledge, fueled by coffee and driven by a deep passion for the sport. Behind every great champion are great coaches, and in today's blog I wanted to talk a little bit about the great coaches behind Olympic Gold Medallists and World Champions... and some fascinating firsts.

Jacqueline du Bief, Jacqueline Vaudecrane and Liliane Madaule-Caffin at the Molitor rink in 1949. Photo courtesy "The Skater" magazine.

We may think of figure skating today as being a sport with equal opportunities for female coaches, but this simply wasn't the case in the sport's early days. Though a small handful of elite skaters had a female as their very first coach, it wasn't until 1952, that a World Champion's primary coach at the time was a woman... and it happened in two disciplines! Madame Jacqueline Vaudecrane was Jacqueline du Bief's coach in the women's event and Miss Gladys Hogg was Jean Westwood and Lawrence Demmy's coach in ice dance. 

Photo courtesy "Skating World" magazine

Few post-1980 World Champions had one coach from the very start of their career to the finish. Some of these remarkably loyal skaters include the stars of The Battle Of The Brian's (Boitano and Orser), Katarina Witt and Rosalynn Sumners.

Petra and Mrs. Ellen Burka

A very small group of parents have coached their own children to World titles. The very first was Lipót Szollás, the father of László Szollás and his partner Emília 'Baby' Rotter in 1931. The first father to coach his daughter to a World title was Megan Taylor in 1938, and the first mother to coach her daughter to a World title was Mrs. Ellen Burka, Petra's fabulous mother, in 1965. Arnold Gerschwiler coached his nephew Hans to a World title in 1947, but a father didn't coach his son to an Olympic gold medal or World title in singles until 1964. Manfred Schnelldorfer, that year's winner in both competitions, was taught by his father Karl and stepmother Elenore.

In the five tables below, I've compiled a list of the coaches of (almost) every Olympic Gold Medallist and World Champion. Some of these may have been long-term coaches, others may have spent time working with them on figures, taught them how to do a waltz jump or helped them keep up their technical skills as professionals. They all, in some way, played an important part in the world's best skater's journeys. 

Arnold Gerschwiler and Sjoukje Dijkstra

I'd like to preface these lists by talking a little bit about how things worked in 'the early days'. Skaters like Ulrich Salchow, who reached the height of his success during the Edwardian era, certainly had mentors but they were largely self-taught. They travelled to competitions without a coach in the stands yelling out instructions, and worked out new ideas through trial and error, conversation and collaboration at the skating resorts in Davos and St. Moritz, letters and telegrams to skaters that lived abroad, reading books and at times, blatantly copying what other skaters did if they got good marks. Most of the coaches of these 'early skaters' that I've listed gave lessons to them at one point or another, but they didn't have the exclusive one-on-one teacher/student relationship we think of today. That really didn't come about until the late roaring twenties and early thirties.

Another note I'd like to add is that the coaches listed for pairs or dance teams may correspond to other partnerships or singles careers. Kerry Leitch is listed under Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler. Kerry coached Lloyd when he was skating with Kathy Matousek, not Isabelle. Uschi Keszler and Tatiana Tarasova are listed under Natalia Mishkutenok and Artur Dmitriev. Neither worked with the couple when they were skating together, but Keszler and Tarasova both worked with Mishkutenok when she was skating professionally with Craig Shepherd. A coach that worked with an Olympic Gold Medallist or World Champion at any stage in their careers was part of their journey, and obviously should be acknowledged.

I also want to note that these are working documents, based on research from the internet, books,  magazines, newspaper archives and correspondence with skaters. If I'm missing anybody on this list, it certainly wasn't intentional. Please feel free to contact me about any errors or omissions.


Ondrej Nepela and Hilda Múdra

Gilbert Fuchs (1896, 1906)


Gustav Hügel (1897, 1899-1900)


Ulrich Salchow (1901-1905, 1907-1911)


Fritz Kachler (1912-1913, 1923)

Pepi Weiß-Pfändler

Gösta Sandahl (1914)


Gillis Grafström (1922, 1924, 1929)


Willy Böckl (1925-1928)

Pepi Weiß-Pfändler

Karl Schäfer (1930-1936)

Pepi Weiß-Pfändler, Rudolf Kutzer, Eduard Engelmann Jr.

Felix Kaspar (1937-1938)

Pepi Weiß-Pfändler, Angela Hanka

Henry Graham Sharp (1939)

Phil Taylor, Bror Meyer

Hans Gerschwiler (1947)

Arnold Gerschwiler

Dick Button (1948-1952)

Gustave Lussi

Hayes Alan Jenkins (1953-1956)

Edi Scholdan, Gustave Lussi, Walter Arian

David Jenkins (1957-1959)

Edi Scholdan, Gustave Lussi, Walter Arian

Alain Giletti (1960)

Jacqueline Vaudecrane, Andrée and Pierre Brunet

Donald Jackson (1962)

Sheldon Galbraith, Pierre Brunet, Wally Distelmeyer, Otto Gold, Arnold Gerschwiler, Ede Király, Alex Fulton, Nan Unsworth

Donald McPherson (1963)

Dennis Silverthorne

Manfred Schnelldorfer (1964)

Karl and Elenore Schnelldorfer

Alain Calmat (1965)

Jacqueline Vaudecrane, Pierre and Andrée Brunet

Emmerich Danzer (1966-1968)

Herta Wächtler, Gustave Lussi

Tim Wood (1969-1970)

Ronnie Baker

Ondrej Nepela (1971-1973)

Hilda Múdra

Jan Hoffmann (1974, 1980)

Jutta Müller, Annemarie Halbach

Sergei Volkov (1975)

Viktor Kudriavtsev, Stanislav Zhuk

John Curry (1976)

Carlo and Christa Fassi, Gustave Lussi, Alison Smith, Peter Dunfield, Arnold Gerschwiler, Armand Perren, Peri Levitsky, Ken Vickers

Vladimir Kovalev (1977, 1979)

Valentin Piseev, Tatiana Tomalcheva, Elena Tchaikovskaya

Charlie Tickner (1978)

Wally and Norma Sahlin, Jimmy Grogan

Scott Hamilton (1981-1984)

Don Laws, Kathy Casey, Carlo and Christa Fassi, Evy and Mary Scotvold, Pierre Brunet, Herb Plata, Giuliano Grassi, Phyllis Hendrix, Mark Beck, Rita Lowery

Alexandr Fadeev (1985)

Stanislav Leonovich, Stanislav Zhuk, Sergei Volkov, Gennady Sergeevich Tarasov

Brian Boitano (1986, 1988)

Linda Leaver

Brian Orser (1987)

Doug Leigh, Karol Divín, Jimmy Grogan

Kurt Browning (1989-1991, 1993)

Louis Stong, Michael Jiranek, Karen McLean

Viktor Petrenko (1992)

Galina Zmievskaya, Valentyn Nikolayev

Elvis Stojko (1994-1995, 1997)

Doug and Michelle Leigh, Uschi Keszler, Ghislain Briand, Ellen Burka

Todd Eldredge (1996)

Richard Callaghan, Tommy Litz, Stacey Smith

Alexei Yagudin (1998-2000, 2002)

Tatiana Tarasova, Nikolai Morozov, Alexei Mishin

Evgeni Plushenko (2001, 2003-2004)

Alexei Mishin, Mikhail Markaveyev, Tatiana Skala

Stéphane Lambiel (2005-2006)

Peter Grütter, Viktor Petrenko, Galina Zmievskaya, Cédric Monod

Brian Joubert (2007)

Oleg Vasiliev, Veronique Guyon, Nikolai Morozov, Annick (Gailhaguet) Dumont, Katia Krier, Patrick Gueppe, Laurent Depouilly, Jean-Christophe Simond, Andrei Berezintsev

Jeffrey Buttle (2008)

Lee Barkell, Rafael Arutyunyan, Doug Leigh, Wendy Philion

Evan Lysacek (2009)

Frank Carroll, Ken Congemi, Viktor Kudriavtsev, Maria Jeżak-Athey

Daisuke Takahashi (2010)

Marina Zoueva, Utako Nagamitsu, Takeshi Honda, Nikolai Morozov

Patrick Chan (2011-2013)

Ravi Walia, Joanne McLeod, Marina Zoueva, Oleg Epstein, Johnny Johns, Kathy Johnson, Christy (Haigler) Krall, Eddie Shipstad, Don Laws, Ellen Burka, Shin Amano, Osborne Colson, Mei Yang

Yuzuru Hanyu (2014, 2017)

Brian Orser, Tracy Wilson, Ghislain Briand, Nanami Abe, Shoichiro Tsuzuki

Javier Fernández (2015-2016)

Brian Orser, Tracy Wilson, Daniel Peinado, Nikolai Morozov, Ivan Saez, Carolina Sanz, Jordi Lafarga

Nathan Chen (2018-2019)

Rafael and Vera Arutyunyan, Nadia Kanaeva, Marina Zoueva, Evgenia Chernyshova, Stephanee Grosscup, Karel and Amanda Kovar


Barbara Ann Scott and Sheldon Galbraith

Madge Syers (1906-1907)


Lili Kronberger (1908-1911)

Viktor Seibert

Zsófia Méray-Horváth (1912-1914)

Viktor Seibert

Herma Szabo (1922-1926)

Pepi Weiß-Pfändler, Eduard Engelmann Jr.

Sonja Henie (1927-1936)

Howard Nicholson, Martin Stixrud, Oscar Holthe, Pepi Weiß-Pfändler, Hjørdis Olsen

Cecilia Colledge (1937)

Jacques Gerschwiler, Howard Nicholson, Eva Keats

Megan Taylor (1938-1939)

Phil Taylor, Ernest Batson

Barbara Ann Scott (1947-1948)

Sheldon Galbraith, Otto Gold, Howard Nicholson, Gustave Lussi, Sylvia Seeley

Ája Zanová (1949-1950)

Arnold Gerschwiler, Karel Glogar

Jeannette Altwegg (1951)

Jacques Gerschwiler, Armand Perren

Jacqueline du Bief (1952)

Jacqueline Vaudecrane, Lucien Lemercier

Tenley Albright (1953, 1955)

Maribel Vinson Owen, Willie Frick, Eugene Turner

Gundi Busch (1954)

Thea Frenssen, Howard Nicholson

Carol Heiss (1956-1960)

Pierre and Andrée Brunet

Sjoukje Dijkstra (1962-1964)

Arnold Gerschwiler

Petra Burka (1965)

Ellen Burka, Don Laws

Peggy Fleming (1966-1968)

Carlo and Christa Fassi, John Nicks, Bob Paul, Peter Betts, Doroyann Swett, Bill Kipp, Tim Brown, Eugene Turner, Harriet Lapish

Gaby Seyfert (1969-1970)

Jutta Müller

Trixi Schuba (1971-1972)

Leopold Linhart, Hilde Appeltauer, Inge Solar, Hellmut Seibt

Karen Magnussen (1973)

Linda Brauckmann, Edi Rada, Dr. Hellmut May, Otto Gold

Christine Errath (1974)

Inge Wischnewski

Dianne de Leeuw (1975)

Douglas Chapman

Dorothy Hamill (1976)

Carlo and Christa Fassi, Peter Burrows, Sonya and Peter Dunfield, Gustave Lussi, Howard Nicholson, Otto Gold, Pierre Brunet, John Bryant Renn 

Linda Fratianne (1977, 1979)

Frank Carroll

Anett Pötzsch (1978, 1980)

Jutta Müller, Gaby Seyfert, Brigitte Schellhorn

Denise Biellmann (1981)

Heidi Biellmann, Otto Hugin

Elaine Zayak (1982)

Peter Burrows, Marylynn Gelderman

Rosalynn Sumners (1983)

Lorraine Borman

Katarina Witt (1985-1986, 1987-1988)

Jutta Müller

Debi Thomas (1986)

Alex McGowan, Barbara Toigo Vitkovits, Beth Callan

Midori Ito (1989)

Machiko Yamada

Jill Trenary (1990)

Carlo and Christa Fassi, Kathy Casey, Carol Heiss Jenkins

Kristi Yamaguchi (1991-1992)

Christy Kjarsgaard Ness, John Nicks, Jim Hulick, Ann Cofer

Oksana Baiul (1993)

Galina Zmievskaya, Valentyn Nikolayev, Stanislav Korytek

Yuka Sato (1994)

Nobuo Sato, Kumiko Sato, Sonya and Peter Dunfield

Lu Chen (1995)

Li Mingzhu, Liu Hongyun

Michelle Kwan (1996, 1998, 2000-2001, 2003)

Frank Carroll, Rafael Arutyunyan, Scott Williams, Derek James

Tara Lipinski (1997)

Richard Callaghan, Jeff DiGregorio, Megan Faulkner, Scott Gregory

Maria Butyrskaya (1999)

Elena Tchaikovskaia, Vladimir Kotin, Viktor Kudriavtsev, Vladimir Korolov, Irina Nifontova

Irina Slutskaya (2002, 2005)

Zhanna Gromova

Shizuka Arakawa (2004)

Nikolai Morozov, Evgeni Platov, Nanami Abe, Tatiana Tarasova, Richard Callaghan, Minoru Sano, Kumiko Sato, Hiroshi Nagakubo

Kimmie Meissner (2006)

Chris Conte, Richard Callaghan, Todd Eldredge, Pam Gregory

Miki Ando (2007, 2011)

Valter Rizzo, Yuko Monna, Nikolai Morozov, Carol Heiss Jenkins, Nobuo Sato, Kumiko Sato, Sachiko Kozuka

Mao Asada (2008, 2010, 2014)

Nobuo Sato, Kumiko Sato, Reiko Kobayashi, Hiroshi Nagakubo, Tatiana Tarasova, Rafael Arutyunyan, Nadezda Kanaeva, Machiko Yamada, Mihoko Higuchi, Yuko Monna

Yuna Kim (2009, 2013)

Brian Orser, Shin Hea-sook, Ryu Jong-hyun, Peter Oppegard, Kim Se-yol, Chi Hyun-jung

Carolina Kostner (2012)

Alexei Mishin, Michael Huth, Friedrich Juricek, Frank Carroll, Christa Fassi, Edoardo De Bernardis

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (2015)

Alexei Mishin, Tatiana Prokofieva, Svetlana Veretennikova

Evgenia Medvedeva (2016-2017)

Eteri Tutberidze, Brian Orser, Tracy Wilson, Sergei Dudakov, Daniil Gleikhengauz, Lubov Yakovleva

Kaetlyn Osmond (2018)

Ravi Walia, Josée Picard, Jessica Gosse

Alina Zagitova (2019)

Eteri Tutberidze, Sergei Dudakov, Natalia Antipina


Marina Cherkasova, Stanislav Zhuk and Sergei Shakhrai

*Ernst Baier is listed as a coach for Maxi Herber and Ernst Baier because he was actually Maxi's singles coach before they formed a partnership. Their Olympic teammate Günther Lorenz served as a manager and mentor after the 1936 Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Anna Hübler and Heinrich Burger (1908, 1910)


Phyllis and James Henry Johnson (1909, 1912)


Ludovika and Walter Jakobsson (1911, 1914, 1923)


Helene Engelmann and Karl Mejstrik (1913)

Pepi Weiß-Pfändler

Helene Engelmann and Alfred Berger (1922, 1924)

Pepi Weiß-Pfändler

Herma Szabo and Ludwig Wrede (1925, 1927)

Pepi Weiß-Pfändler

Andrée (Joly) and Pierre Brunet (1926, 1928, 1930, 1932)


Lilly Scholz and Otto Kaiser (1929)

Pepi Weiß-Pfändler

Emília Rotter and László Szollás (1931, 1933-1935)

Lipót Szollás, Zoltán Balázs, Ivort Farkas

Maxi Herber and Ernst Baier (1936-1939)

Ernst Baier*, Günther Lorenz

Micheline Lannoy and Pierre Baugniet (1947-1948)

Charles Landot

Andrea Kékesy and Ede Király (1949)

Arnold Gerschwiler

Karol and Peter Kennedy (1950)

Edi Scholdan, Cecilia Colledge, Clarence and Fayette Hislop, Mary Rose Thacker Temple, Eugene Turner, Sheldon Galbraith, Michael Kennedy

Ria Baran and Paul Falk (1951-1952)


Jennifer and John Nicks (1953)

Gladys Hogg, Eric W. Hudson

Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden (1954-1955)

Sheldon Galbraith, Sadie Cambridge, Albert Enders, Otto Gold

Sissy Schwarz and Kurt Oppelt (1956)

Herta Wächtler, Arnold Gerschwiler, Jacques Gerschwiler

Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul (1957-1960)

Sheldon Galbraith

Maria and Otto Jelinek (1962)

Bruce and Marg Hyland, Arnold Gerschwiler, Gustave Lussi, Jean Westwood, Karel Glogar

Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler (1963-1964)

Erich Zeller, Lothar Müller, Bernd Häusel, Werner Franz, Sigrid Knake, Günther Koch, Friedrich Wilhelm Berntheusel

Ludmila (Belousova) and Oleg Protopopov (1965-1968)

Igor Moskvin, Pyotr Petrovich Orlov, Stanislav Zhuk

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov (1969-1972)

Tatiana Tarasova, Stanislav Zhuk, Miloslav Balun and Soňa Balunová, Lev Mikhailov, Yakov Smushkin, Svetlana Smirnova, Viktor Kudriavtsev

Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev (1973-1978)

Tatiana Tarasova, Stanislav Zhuk, Miloslav Balun and Soňa Balunová, Lev Mikhailov, Yakov Smushkin

Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner (1979)

John Nicks, Mabel Fairbanks

Marina Cherkasova and Sergei Shakhrai (1980)

Stanislav Zhuk

Irina Vorobieva and Igor Livosky (1981)

Tamara Moskvina, Igor Moskvin, Alexei Mishin

Sabine Baeß and Tassilo Thierbach (1982)

Irene Salzmann

Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev (1983, 1985, 1988)

Tamara Moskvina

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini (1984)

Louis and Marijane Stong, Sandra Bezic, Sheldon Galbraith, Anna Forder McLaughlin, Judy Henderson

Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov (1986-1987, 1989-1990)

Marina Zoueva, Stanislav Zhuk, Stanislav Leonovich, Nadezhda Shevalovskaya, Vladimir Zakharov

Natalia Mishkutenok and Artur Dmitriev (1991-1992)

Tamara Moskvina, Tatiana Tarasova, Uschi Keszler

Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler (1993)

Josée Picard, Eric Gilles, Kerry Leitch, Fran and Bruce Brady

Evgenia Shishkova and Vadim Naumov (1994)

Natalia Pavlova, Ludmila Velikova, Nuria Pirogova, E. Beilina

Radka Kovaříková and René Novotný (1995)

Irina Rodnina, Ivan Rezek

Marina Eltsova and Andrei Bushkov (1996)

Natalia Pavlova, Igor Moskvin

Mandy Wötzel and Ingo Steuer (1997)

Monika Scheibe

Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze (1998-1999)

Tamara Moskvina, Ludmila Velikova, Nikolai Velikov

Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov (2000)

Ludmila Velikova

Jamie Salé and David Pelletier (2001)

Jan Ullmark, Richard Gauthier

Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao (2002-2003, 2007)

Yao Bin, Sun Zhiping, Sun Yu, B. Han, Q. Wang

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin (2004-2005)

Oleg Vasiliev, Natalia Pavlova

Qing Pang and Jian Tong (2006, 2010)

Yao Bin, Liu Wei, Wenyi Cong

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy (2008-2009, 2011-2012, 2014)

Ingo Steuer, Halyna Kukhar, Alexander Artychenko

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov (2013)

Nina Mozer, Stanislav Morozov, Ingo Steuer, Galina Kukhar, Nikolai Morozov, Oleg Vasiliev, Artur Dmitriev, Tamara Moskvina, Nikolai Velikov, Valeri Tiukov, Valentina Tiukova

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (2015-2016)

Bruno Marcotte, Richard Gauthier, Sylvie Fullum, Lee Barkell, Brian Orser

Wenjing Sui and Cong Hang (2017, 2019)

Hongbo Zhao, Bing Han, Jinlin Guan, Yao Bin, Luan Bo, Cai Weibin

Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (2018)

Alexander König, Jean-Francois Ballester, Ingo Steuer, Halyna Kukhar, Alexander Artychenko


*In 1950 and 1951, International Ice Dance Competitions were held in conjunction with the World Championships in London and Milan. Though these events haven't been recognized historically by the ISU as World Championships, I've included the winners and their coaches nonetheless.

Gennadi Karpsonosov, Elena Tchaikovskaia and Natalia Linichuk

Lois Waring and Michael McGean (1950*)

Rudy and Else (Derksen) Angola, Lewis Elkin, Gustave Lussi

Jean Westwood and Lawrence Demmy (1951*, 1952-1955)

Gladys Hogg, Len Liggett, Jack Wake, Thelma Jenkinson, Joan Lister, Ellen Dallerup, Peri Levitsky, 

Pamela Weight and Paul Thomas (1956)

Len Liggett, Ivy Wilder

June Markham and Courtney Jones (1957-1958)

Kay Simcock, Don Crosthwaite, Gladys Hogg, Doreen and Len Sayward, Jack Santall, Rosetta Ramsay

Doreen Denny and Courtney Jones (1959-1960)

Kay Simcock, Don Crosthwaite, Gladys Hogg, Roy Callaway, Arnold Gerschwiler, Jack Santall, Rosetta Ramsay

Eva Romanová and Pavel Roman (1962-1965)

Míla Nováková, Frantisek Roman

Diane Towler and Bernie Ford (1966-1969)

Gladys Hogg, Ken Vickers

Lyudmila Pakhomova and Aleksandr Gorshkov (1970-1974, 1976)

Elena Tchaikovskaia, Stanislav Zhuk, Viktor Ryzhkin, Alexandra Naryadchikova, Tatiana Tomalcheva

Irina Moiseeva and Andrei Minenkov (1975, 1977)

Tatiana Tarasova, Natalia Dubova, Lyudmila Pakhomova

Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov (1978-1979)

Elena Tchaikovskaia

Krisztina Regőczy and András Sallay (1980)

Betty Callaway, Roy Callaway

Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean (1981-1984)

Betty Callaway, Janet Sawbridge, Len Sayward, Norma Bowmar, Thelma Perry

Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin (1985-1988)

Tatiana Tarasova, Eduard Pliner, Betty Callaway

Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko (1989-1990, 1992)

Natalia Dubova, Tatiana Tarasova

Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay (1991)

Martin Skotnický, Christopher Dean, Bernard Ford

Maya Usova and Alexandr Zhulin (1993)

Natalia Dubova

Oksana Grishuk and Evgeni Platov (1994-1997)

Tatiana Tarasova, Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, Natalia Dubova

Angelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikovv (1998-1999)

Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov

Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat (2000)

Muriel Boucher-Zazoui

Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margalio (2001)

Roberto Pelizzola, Paola Mezzadri, Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov

Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Averbukh (2002)

Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, Natalia Dybinskaya, Oleg Epstein

Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz (2003)

Nikolai Morozov, Uschi Keszler, Natalia Dubova, Tatiana Tarasova, Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, Josée Picar and Eric Gilles, Paul Wirtz

Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov (2004-2005)

Alexandr Zhulin, Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, Elena Tchaikovskaia, Natalia Dubova

Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski (2006-2007)

Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, Alexei Gorshkov

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder (2008)

Muriel Boucher-Zazoui, Romain Haguenauer, Tatiana Tarasova, Lydie Bontemps

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin (2009)

Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karpanosov, Alexei Gorshkov, Oleg Sudakov, Larisa Filina

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (2010, 2012, 2017)

Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, Romain Haguenauer, Marina Zoueva, Oleg Epstein, Johnny Johns, Igor Shpilband, Carol Moir, Paul MacIntosh, Suzanne Killing

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (2011, 2013)

Marina Zoueva, Oleg Epstein, Johnny Johns, Igor Shpilband, Seth Chafetz

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (2014)

Paola Mezzadri, Marina Zoueva, Valter Rizzo, Igor Shpilband, Nikolai Morozov, Muriel Boucher-Zazoui, Romain Haguenauer, Roberto Pelizzola, Barbara Riboldi

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (2015-2016, 2018-2019)

Romain Haguenauer, Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, Catherine Pinard, Muriel Boucher-Zazoui, Catherine Papadakis


The coaches of World Champions who have also won an Olympic gold medal are included in the tables above. In the table below are the coaches of Olympic Gold Medallists who haven't won a World title.

I've also included winners in the team event, because if a skater has an Olympic gold medal sitting in a safety deposit box somewhere, they're an Olympic Gold Medallist... not “an Olympic Gold Medallist... in the team event.” The same applies to their talented coaches.

Oksana Kazakova, Tamara Moskvina and Artur Dmitriev. Photo courtesy Ekaterina Filistovich, Figure Skating Federation Of Russia. Used with permission.

Nikolay Panin-Kolomenkin

Alexei P. Lebedeff, Alexander Nikitich Panshin

Wolfgang Schwarz

Herta Wächtler

Robin Cousins

Carlo and Christa Fassi, Gladys Hogg, Pamela Davies, Gordon Holloway

Alexei Urmanov

Alexei Mishin, Nina Monakhova, Natalia Golubeva

Ilia Kulik

Tatiana Tarasova, Viktor Kudriavtsev

Magda (Mauroy) Julin


Sarah Hughes

Robin Wagner, Jeff DiGregorio, Ron Ludington, Patti Johnson

Alina Zagitova

Eteri Tutberidze, Sergei Dudakov, Natalia Antipina

Oksana Kazakova and Artur Dmitriev

Tamara Moskvina, Natalia Pavlova, Viktor Teslia

Julia Lipinitskaia

Alexei Urmanov, Eteri Tutberidze, Sergei Dudakov, Elena Levkovets, Marina Voitsekhovskaya

Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov

Nina Mozer, Vladislav Zhovnirski, Ludmila Velikova, Natalia Golubeva

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov

Elena Kustarova, Svetlana Alexeeva, Olga Riabinina, Nikolai Morozov, Maria Voitsekhovskaia, Denis Samokhin, Tatiana Tarasova, Alexandr Zhulin, Oleg Volkov, Irina Lobacheva, Petr Durnev, Marina Zoueva

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev

Alexandr Zhulin, Oleg Volkov, Elena Kustarova, Svetlana Alexeeva, Olga Riabinina

Gabby Daleman

Lee Barkell, Tracy Wilson, Brian Orser, Andrei Berezintsev, Inga Zusev, Kent Grice

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": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.

Featured Post

Pre-Order Your Copy of "Jackson Haines: The Skating King"

  "Jackson Haines: The Skating King" won't be available for purchase until November 1, but the good news is that you can place...