2021 has been yet another challenging year but one thing we can be thankful for is the presence of figure skating in our lives. Many of us haven't been in an ice rink for some time... but thanks to the incredible efforts of organizers around the world, we've been able to cheer on our favourite figure skaters from the safety and comfort of our homes.
As we applaud the great figure skating stars of the present and future, we have been perhaps more appreciative than ever of the sport's rich history. Many beloved members of the community have passed away this year, among them Olympic and World Medallists, respected coaches and professional stars. Their deaths all serve as a sad reminder that the pioneers of the sport won't be around forever.
In case you may have missed them, here's a little countdown of 10.0 of the most compelling stories shared on Skate Guard this year. A Happy New Year to you and here's to more fascinating figure skating history in 2022!
10. THE QUALIFYING ROUND QUAGMIRE
In May, we looked back at the complicated history of qualifying rounds being used to cut down on the number of entries at ISU Championships. The story behind 'keeping things short and sweet' was anything but!
9. FRIDA SEGERDAHL-NORDSTRÖM: AN UNLIKELY SWEDISH FIGURE SKATING PIONEER
Frida Segerdahl-Nordström is best known for being a pioneer in the world of hunting, but in the nineteenth century she was the first woman in Sweden to skate in front of an audience... with 'The Great American Skating King' Jackson Haines. We explored her fascinating story on Skate Guard in March.
8. IS ONE THE LONELIEST NUMBER? COLD HARD FACTS ABOUT SKATING FIRST
It took some serious digging through old archives to put together this particular piece in September! Is there any basis to the old skating superstition that skating first is unlucky? Or is the truth a little more complex than lore?
7. AN AMERICAN IN KYOTO: THE JACK B. JOST STORY
Remember that time an American won the Japanese men's figure skating title? This August, we took a deep dive into Jack B. Jost's extraordinary life story.
6. THE HALF-BROTHERS GERSCHWILER
Arnold and Jacques Gerschwiler are both members of the World Figure Skating Hall Of Fame - and with very good reason! Between them, they taught dozens upon dozens of the world's best skaters of the twentieth century. In June, we took a close-up look at both of their life stories as well as some rare family photographs from Arnold's daughter Stella's private collections.
5. AIRBORNE: A TIMELINE OF CANADIAN JUMPING HISTORY
Who doesn't love a good jump? Here in Canada, we appreciate a good triple Axel as much as the next person. Back in March, we took a little journey through the history of Canadian figure skating and highlighted important Canadian milestones achieved in the air. P.S. - I like to call this one Meagan Duhamel's Greatest Hits.
4. AXELS AT THE APOLLO THEATER: THE JOSEPH VANTERPOOL STORY
I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Akbar Vanterpool about his father's incredible story. As one of the first men of colour to make a name for himself in the figure skating world, Joseph Vanterpool appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and skated at the historic Apollo Theater. If you haven't read up on him in this blog from March, you need to get on that.
1. THE ALMANAC OF PROFESSIONAL FIGURE SKATING COMPETITIONS
Skate Guard's fourth full-length feature, released this May, explores the long and storied history of professional figure skating competitions, from the Victorian era to modern day. Through results, interesting historical tidbits, photographs and videos, this feature challenges the modern perception that professional competitions were only a thing of the nineties.