#Unearthed: The Ice Grotto

When you dig through skating history, you never know what you will unearth. #Unearthed is a monthly feature on Skate Guard where fascinating writings by others that are of interest to skating history buffs are excavated, dusted off and shared. From forgotten fiction to long lost interviews to tales that have never been shared publicly, each #Unearthed is a compelling journey through time. 

This month's gem is an article from the January 1896 issue of "Ice And Refrigeration" magazine describing The Ice Grotto at the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition, the first artificial ice rink in the Southern United States. Also included is a clipping from "The Atlanta Constitution" highlighting the exploitation that went on at the rink.


So much has been said of the Atlanta Exposition that nothing need now be added, the Exposition having closed, except that it was a great success as a representative Southern effort, although, like all public enterprises of like character, the ultimate financial exhibit is not as satisfactory as might be wished. However, the readers of "Ice And Refrigeration" are now less interested in those considerations than in the exhibits of ice and refrigerating machinery. No large machines were erected on the grounds, but two interesting exhibits were made by two new competitors for public favor, who are best known at present, perhaps, to our readers as builders of the 'small' machine, although that type of machine is but an incident of their business. The first of these is the Economical Refrigerating Co., of Chicago, who had a 1-ton machine in operation in Machinery hall, as shown by the illustration herewith. The machine requires about one horse power, gas or electric motor, and will cool about 2,000 cubic feet under ordinary conditions of insulation, etc. As shown by the picture, the machine cooled an "Alaska" butcher's box, and was actuated by a Crocker-Wheeler electric motor. The machine, which is entirely automatic in its performance, and self-contained - compressor, condenser and ammonia drum being all contained within the one casting - and refrigerates by direct expansion, was run continually during the week, being shut down only on Saturday night; and on closing down or on starting up again on Monday morning, no valves were (or need be) changed, the only action required to start or shut down the machine being to turn on and shut off the motive power. The machine was awarded a gold medal and diploma by the committee on awards.

The other exhibit was more elaborate, being none other than the "Midway" concession known as the "Ice Grotto," which is herewith illustrated - an ice palace and skating rink, where, as a local paper said, the following paradox was visible: "Five Esquimaux, attired in heavy furs, stood on the Midway and watched a fancy skater as he cut many curious figures on a lake of ice. The group was in the ice palace, and a perspiring crowd watched the arctic people as they danced around to keep warm." The exhibit, as a whole, may be described as follows: The building was 35 feet wide and 130 feet long. The front was built to represent an iceberg, and was 50 feet high, with a 12-foot flag staff, making 62 feet over all. The framework of the iceberg was of wood, covered with cotton duck, painted to represent ice, and decorated with mica and powdered glass, which made it glitter in the sun by day, while at night the electric light made it appear like a real iceberg studded with sparkling gems.

Clipping from the November 1, 1895 issue of "The Atlanta Constitution" that highlights the exploitation that went on at The Ice Grotto

The Phoenix wheel was just across the Midway, fronting the iceberg, and as it revolved its lights were reflected by the iceberg, making a very beautiful sight. Standing on the highest point of the grounds the grotto could be seen from every point of the Exposition, having been elevated 150 feet above the level of Lake Clara Mere, so that one could easily imagine that he was looking at a mountain of ice studded with diamonds. A negro remarked to another when standing on the bank of the lake, half mile from the berg, that, "A white man done frozen a mountain of ice, and covered it over with diamonds." The entrance was made to represent an ice grotto, on entering which the way seemed blocked with ice, and the effect was so natural that many put out their hands to touch it to see if it were real. Others shivered and said that it was too cold for them to enter, and would not enter until told that the auditorium was heated by steam. Those who thought their way blocked found on turning to the left what seemed to be a tunnel hewn through solid ice, following which they entered a beautiful auditorium 30 feet wide and 50 feet long. This also was lined with cotton duck, painted to represent ice, and at the farther end was a plate glass front, which separated the auditorium from a frozen palace in which the temperature was kept near zero. This palace was 22 feet wide and 35 feet long, 14 feet high. The floor was frozen for skating, while the walls and ceiling were piped and festooned with frost and icicles. The skating surface was always frozen, and there was almost continuous skating by experts from 10:00 A. M. to 11:00 P. M. The surface was kept in good condition by simply sweeping with a wet broom every hour, the skaters at no time being kept off longer than ten minutes. After the rink was closed at night the employees flooded the ice half an inch deep with water, and by the next morning this was as smooth and slick as glass.

The ice surface was used only for trick skaters, except now and then contests were given by skaters from the audience. The ice cut by the skates was always dry, and was swept up in banks and used for snow ball matches. Imagine fifty men and women from the audience going into this frozen palace and joining in a game of snowballing, while the audience sat in a warm auditorium and viewed the scene with nothing but a plate glass and stage between them. There was a small stage between the audience and the  plate glass, and on this stage a band of Esquimaux gave performances of their native songs, dances and athletic sports. They were covered with their fur robes, and had the frozen palace for a background, which, when different colored lights were flashed on it by a powerful electrical projector, made a sight never to be forgotten. When this performance was over the audience was passed out through a grotto which ran along the right side of the ice palace into the Machinery hall, which was 30×33 feet, and beautifully decorated with bunting. In this hall were the compressor, condenser, gas receiver (two views of which are here- with shown) and also the beautiful refrigerators built by the McCray Refrigerator and Cold Storage Co., of Kendallville, Ind. Here also was a large bottle-freezing apparatus, in which 500 bottles, holding 1/2-gallon of water each, were frozen each day. These bottles had the name of the Stillwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Co. blown on them, and were distributed free each day among the saloons and restaurants, drinking places in Machinery hall and offices, to advertise the machine. After the audience had seen the machinery, they were passed on through the frozen palace to see the beautiful incrustations of ice and frost, intermingled with sparkling icicles at close range, while the electrical projector played on them. An average of about 1,500 people passed through this palace each day, and the manager had no trouble in keeping the temperature near zero, with the outside temperature at 80°; and even when the weather was cold, he kept the temperature in the engine room and auditorium 70° with steam heaters, thus always making the machine work against at least 70° of temperature. All of this refrigeration was done by an 8-ton refrigerating machine known as the "Victor," designed by N. R. Keeling, and built by the Stillwell-Bierce & Smith-Vaile Co., of Dayton, Ohio. The exhibit described was put up by N. R. Keeling as concessionaire, and cost about $11,000 exclusive of refrigerating machinery. The machine was awarded a gold medal and diploma by the committee on awards. The well known Frick Co., of Waynesboro, Pa., exhibited no refrigerating machinery, but had a 250 horse power engine furnishing power in the Machinery building; also one high speed automatic 150 horse power engine, to which was belted an Edison dynamo for the electric fountains and search lights.... The Garlock Packing Co., which furnished the packings, ammonia and steam for the Ice Grotto plant, had also packings - in all the steam pumps in boiler house.

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.

The Poison And Power Of The Pen

In the roaring twenties, a duo of Austrian twentysomethings named Elisabeth 'Lilly' Scholz and Otto Kaiser were one of the most successful pairs teams in the world. Vienna born Otto and Graz born Lilly were known for their athletic and daring style. Otto's weightlifting background allowed them to perform lifts that were considered quite acrobatic for the time, and their early incarnation of a death spiral was a highlight of all of their performances. They won their first of four national titles in 1924 and the following year won their first medal at the World Championships. They claimed the Olympic silver medal in 1928 and were the runner-up's at the World Championships for three years in a row, narrowly losing twice in three-two split's of the judging panel. Their greatest success came in 1929, when they won the World pairs title in Budapest. 

Lilly Scholz and Otto Kaiser. Photo courtesy Wiener Eislaufverein.

In late September of 1929, Lilly married Hans Gaillard and decided to hang up her skates. Otto chose to continue his training and soon paired up with Hansi Kast. After a year off the ice, Lilly missed the thrill of competition and teamed up with a man with the unfortunate name of Willy Petter. Lilly and Willy, as they were sometimes called, drew praise for their "difficult, effective and well executed" program, won two national titles and two medals at the European Championships from 1930 to 1932 and had starring roles in the ice revues "Das Verlobungsfest am Hofe des Eiskönigs", "Eislinde" and "Winterfried". Otto and Hansi struggled, finishing second to last at the 1931 World Championships and off the podium at the 1932 Austrian Championships. 

Lilly Gaillard and Willy Petter. Photo courtesy National Archives Of Poland.

In 1933, things started to unravel for Lilly and Willy. Despite giving two of their best performances, they narrowly lost the Austrian and European titles to Idi Papez and Karl Zwack. They were extremely disappointed and opted not to compete in that year's World Championships in Stockholm. Their decision was panned in the press. "Der Tag" criticized them for poor sportsmanship and on February 11, 1933, the "Wiener Sportagblatt" published a highly critical, anonymous letter claiming that the duo had used the excuse that they were "suddenly too tired to skate."

Lilly Scholz and Willy Petter

Five days later, Willy Petter sent a handwritten letter to the "Wiener Sportagblatt" that was published under the headline "Why Gaillard-Petter No Longer Skate". The Petter letter said, "We were, as stated in the article, hurt because we didn't win the last two competitions. Anyone who knows us wouldn't be so reproachful. I honestly don't understand, since we've been sporting over the course of the year. Career losses and wins and alternating orders have been made and we always accepted this without the word. We can, without being immodest, claim that both pairs belong to the same class and that... the decision of victory and defeat comes not only from the skating itself, but almost more in the attitude of the  judges - of their personal sympathy or from their fondness for the style of one or the other couple. It has evolved over the years that the skater is not only skating but also... must learn how these officials and these judges are to be traded. Expressing your own opinion as the most ridiculous little things can have an affect... Generations of skaters change, but the officials almost always remain the same, and then they remain still in office when younger ones have been there for a long time. These are perhaps less experienced officials, but they are more original in their thinking. But those are exceptions to the rule and many become entangled in the old ways... Under these circumstances, not only do we have to suffer, but also a lot of other skaters at the Wiener Eislaufverein. We don't just know each other, the skaters and the officials, but it is certainly no coincidence that in the last few years many transfers from the Wiener Eislaufverein to the artificial ice club took place. The conditions are more favorable there, especially because they are less complicated and the number of officials is significantly lower. The mood in general and various opinions have moved us, but that has nothing to do with sporting successes or failures. It would appear in the circles of the Wiener Eislaufverein that our resignation was by no means particularly painful."

Hans Pfeiffer, the President of the Österreichischer Eiskunstlaufverband, didn't take kindly to Willy Petter's letter, nor did the good folks at the Wiener Eislaufverein. Though Willy contacted the "Wiener Sportagblatt" in early April of 1933 to clarify that his letter was directed at club officials at the Wiener Eislaufverein and not competition judges, this had little effect. The Österreichischer Eiskunstlaufverband gave him a severe reprimand and unanimously voted in favour of a two-year suspension from competition. The unfortunate consequence of this was that it effectively ended the competitive career of World Champion partner Lilly, who had come out of retirement to skate with him in the first place. Willy went on to work behind the scenes with the Karl-Schäfer-Eisrevue and Wiener Eisrevue and Lilly faded into obscurity. 

Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

Willy may have been one of the first pairs skaters to openly criticize the powers-that-be in the skating world, but he wasn't the last. History repeated itself two decades later when World Champion Norris 'Norrie' Bowden had the courage to call out Canadian skating officials publicly in a letter that was mailed to over two hundred CFSA clubs. Though Norris' letter stated that "any opinions expressed are purely those of the writer", both he and his partner Frances 'Frannie' Dafoe were banned from judging for five years. 

Excerpts from Norris Bowden's letter, republished in David Young's "The Golden Age Of Canadian Figure Skating"

Though Lilly and Willy and Frannie and Norrie faced very real consequences by standing up to their federations, their courageous actions enacted change. In the years leading up to World War II, top Austrian skaters continued to flock away from the Wiener Eislaufverein and in Canada, as David Young aptly wrote in his book "The Golden Age Of Canadian Figure Skating", "many of the improvements in competitions which [Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden] fought for have been implemented, and are now accepted without question."

Gone are the days of skaters penning their grievances in cursive and heading to the post office. In our modern age of retweets, Instagram stories, press conferences and mixed zones, it is perhaps easier than ever for those in the sport to make their concerns heard. The skaters today who are using their voices to stand out against injustice and enact positive change in the sport deserve our respect and admiration, as do those who have spoken up on a wide range of important issues in years past - often at a great cost.

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.

The Twentieth Century Bernard Fox Story

Joan Tozzer and M. Bernard Fox. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

"Joan and Bernard slipped over the ice with long silken glides that, because of their very effortlessness, were a moving picture of joyous youth." - Maribel Vinson Owen, "Advanced Figure Skating"

The son of Mary (Fitzpatrick) and Matthew Fox, Matthew Bernard 'Babe' Fox was born October 6, 1916 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He had two older brothers, Paul and Gerald, and in his youth divided his time between the family's year round home in Brookline and summer home in Marblehead. His Roman Catholic parents were well-to-do enough to employ three live-in servants. His father was the President and Director of the Brigham dry goods merchandising company and a former chairman of the Board of Directors of the B. Peek Co. in Lewiston and Filene's in Boston.

Joan Tozzer and M. Bernard Fox. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

Bernard got his start on the ice while attending The Rivers School in Brookline, where he was captain of the hockey team. He didn't take up figure skating seriously until he was sixteen. He received instruction at The Skating Club of Boston from Willie Frick and was mentored by George Henry Browne.

Joan Tozzer, Bernard Fox and Margie and Jenny McKean. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

In 1935, Bernard won the U.S. novice men's title and travelled abroad to England, where he toured the country's top ice rinks, learning dances like the Kilian, Blues and Viennese Waltz which weren't widely known in the United States at the time. The trip ended badly - his pairs partner Joan Tozzer broke her leg and Bernard injured his knee.

Joan Tozzer and M. Bernard Fox. Photos courtesy "Skating" magazine.

The following season, Joan and Bernard won the U.S. junior pairs title. Bernard also won the junior men's crown, making history as the first man to win the national novice and junior titles in successive years. A noteworthy feature of Joan and Bernard's pairs routine were the Salchow jumps they did past other, which Maribel described as "a particularly rhythmic move, as the sway of their bodies as they approached on the rather long preparation was interesting and the dip for the jump was timed so that they passed each other actually in the air."

Joan Tozzer and M. Bernard Fox. Photos courtesy "Skating" magazine.

After claiming the bronze medal in senior pairs in 1937, Joan and Bernard went on to win three successive U.S. senior pairs titles. They also won the North American Championships in 1939. During their competitive career, Bernard was studying at Harvard University, where Joan's father worked as a professor. He graduated with a Bachelor Of Arts in 1938.

Joan and Bernard were named to the 1940 Winter Olympic team, but as we all know, those Games were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II. Joan's engagement was announced before the 1940 Nationals, as was the fact that she planned to "completely, absolutely" retire from the sport once she was married that July.

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

Joan spent much of the War in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her husband Phillip served in the Police Reserve, spending "three nights a week out in a patrol car hauling in drunks, blackout violators, settling domestic troubles, seeing that all alien radios are locked up, etc." She worked four days a week in the Women's Air Raid Defense, plotting airplanes around the islands on giant maps. In her spare time, she volunteered with the U.S.O. 

Bernard served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy from May of 1942 to November of 1945 and was deployed for a time in the Mediterranean, with sea and shore assignments in African, Italian and French waters. 

During the invasion of Southern France, Bernard was the Liaison Officer for Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, the  Commander of the United States Forces in the Mediterranean, aboard the Flagship of the French Fleet. The ship was hit three times by German shore batteries at Toulon, and Bernard was awarded the Croix de Guerre and Silver Star for his bravery and service.

During the time he served in the military, Bernard was still very much involved with skating. He served on the USFSA's Competitions and Rules, Skating Standards and Judges and Judging Committees and acted as a judge at several U.S. Championships. In 1948, he judged the men's and pairs events at the Winter Olympic Games and the women's event at the World Championships. The fact he never judged at a major international event again can be well explained by his marks at those Worlds in Davos. In the free skating, he and the Swiss judge who sat stood out like a sore thumb, placing the twenty skaters in the exact same order, often differing wildly from the rest of the panel with their marks.

M. Bernard Fox and Lucy Linder Pope's wedding. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

Bernard had married Lucy Linder Pope six months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, with whom he had two sons, David and Richard. The couple divorced in the late sixties and she remarried to acclaimed Australian tennis player and coach Harry Hopman.

An episode of Bernard Fox's show "Code 3"

In the early fifties, Bernard began a long career as as a screenwriter and producer at the DuMont Television Network's WABD station in New York. He moved to Los Angeles in 1953, serving as Vice-President of Roland Reed Productions. in 1956, he started his own film production company in Hollywood, under the name Ben Fox. He specialized in Westerns and outdoor documentaries and his credits included "Waterfront", "Code 3", "Whiplash", "The Monroes" and "Racquet Squad". He also wrote several unsold pilots, including "Harbor Inn", "Charter Pilot", "Rails" and "The Forest Ranger". He directed three weekly radio productions for the U.N. Association of New England and did some production work for Hal Roach Studios in Culver City. In his memoir "Eighty Odd Years In Hollywood", director John Meredyth Lucas recalled that one of Bernard's scripts a "Ben Casey" episode was so "terrible" that he had to rewrite it behind his back. "The day after it aired, Ben called me," he recalled. "He quibbled about the casting of minor parts but told me, 'I thought you did a good job of directing.' I don't think he was being snide. He really thought what he'd seen was his script."

Bernard passed away in Santa Monica, California on October 6, 1998 - his eighty-second birthday. Though Joan Tozzer was inducted to the U.S. Figure Skating Hall Of Fame in 1997, Bernard has never been honoured for his contributions to the sport in the thirties and forties.

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.

The 1954 Canadian Figure Skating Championships

Photo courtesy The Glenbow Museum

South of the border, journalists Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly had just released a thirty minute documentary on McCarthyism. The country's Liberal government was led by Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent  The latest fashion trends were Garbadine suits and taffeta dresses. Jo Stafford's "Make Love To Me" blared on Electrohome stereos. The year was 1954, and from March 11 to 13, Canada's best figure skaters convened in Calgary, Alberta for the Dominion's Figure Skating Championships.

The announcement that the Championships would be held in Calgary for the first time since 1948 was made at the CFSA's Annual General Meeting at the Glencoe Club on Hallowe'en in 1953 - the first CFSA meeting held in Alberta. The CFSA was celebrating its fortieth anniversary, taking into account the organization's many years as the Figure Skating Department of the Amateur Skating Association Of Canada. From 1914 to 1954, it had grown from two to one hundred and twenty-five clubs.

Top (left to right): Barbara Gratton, Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden, Charles Snelling. Bottom (left to right, top to bottom): Joan Shippam, Doreen Leech and Norman Walker, Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul, Dick Rimmer. Photos courtesy "Skating" magazine.

In 1954, the European Championships in Bolzano and World Championships in Oslo had been held in late January and mid-February. The Canadian and U.S. Championships were both held in March, in the height of carnival season. Their results were considered when the CFSA named the North American and World teams at their autumn 1954 Annual Meeting.

When skaters and officials arrived in Calgary, they were met by a group of 'caddies' (skaters who held up the judges' scores) dressed in leather jackets and white cowboy hats. By the time of the free skating finals at the Stampede Corral, even the judges were sporting white hats. Social events included a reception at the Glencoe Club, numerous supper parties hosted at the homes of local skating officials and a trip to nearby Banff to swim in the hot springs. Let's take a look back at the most important aspect of these Championships - the skating!


New champions were crowned in all four of the junior disciplines. Doreen 'Do Do' Leech and Norman Walker bested Claudette Lacaille and Jeffery Johnston to win the McLaughlin-Stephens Cups for junior dance in a three-two split. The dances were the Ten-Fox, European Waltz and Paso Doble.

Doreen Leech, Norman Walker and Patricia Spray

The victors in junior pairs were a promising young team you may have heard of... Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul of Toronto. The Toronto teenagers were ranked unanimously first by the five judges ahead of four other teams, all but one from the West Coast. Wagner and Paul were already being praised for their effective shadow skating, and their ten inch height difference was striking. Wagner attended St. Clement's School; Paul the Lawrence Park Collegiate.

Eight talented young men competed for the Howard Trophy in the junior men's event. All but one judge placed Dick Rimmer of the Minto Skating Club first. The second place skater, Norman Walker of the Connaught Skating Club, received ordinals ranging from first to sixth. Sixth was Bob Paul. Dick Rimmer was a fifteen year old only child. He was in tenth grade at Guelph Collegiate, studying Mathematics, Latin and French.

There were a whopping fifteen entries in the junior women's event. The unanimous winner was Joan Shippam of the Porcupine Skating Club, with hometown favourites Dianne Williams and Karen Dixon second and third. It's worth noting that nine of the fifteen skaters represented West Coast clubs. Joan Shippam was less than two months shy of her sixteenth birthday and took her high school classes by correspondence so she could focus on her skating. She was the oldest of three siblings and enjoyed swimming and badminton.


As was customary at the time, there were separate contests for the Waltz, Tenstep and Senior Dance. Geraldine Fenton and Bill McLachlan of the Granite Club won the latter two events, but lost the Dance title to Doreen Leech and Norman Walker, the junior dance champions. Eighteen year old Fenton had won the 1953 junior dance title with Glen Skuce and enjoyed swimming and painting. McLachlan was a tenth grade student at the Lawrence Park Collegiate who enjoyed philately, leathercraft and basketball.

Geraldine Fenton and Bill McLachlan. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

The dance event consisted only of compulsories - the Ten-Fox, Paso Doble, Quickstep and Three-Lobe Waltz. Though many junior dance champions 'skated up' in the senior ranks in the years that followed, Leech and Walker hold the unusual distinction of being the only couple in history to win both the senior and junior dance titles in the same year. Leech was a twenty one year old stenographer; Walker worked several part-time jobs to finance his skating.


Audrey Downie, Patricia Spray, Brian Power and Norman Walker of the Connaught Skating Club were the only entry in the fours event. As the rules required more than one team to compete for the prize to be awarded, the British Columbian team gave an exhibition instead - but it was marked by the judges nonetheless. The four broke up later in the year when Spray got married and Walker turned professional to coach at the Wascana Winter Club.

Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

Fresh off a win at the 1954 World Championships in Oslo, Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden were the obvious favourites in the senior pairs event. They trounced their competitors - Audrey Downie and Brian Power and Dawn Ann Steckley and David Lowery - earning first place marks from every judge. 

Reviewing the event in "Skating" magazine, Anne T. Wickware remarked, "Frances wore a most attractive turquoise skating dress which featured fine fan pleats and glittering sequins at the neckline to relieve the basically tailored design. The extraordinary unity of their performance and the superb lifts and jumps confirmed the high standard of their achievements. Nevertheless, the two other pairs did not let their performances fade before the World Champions and the whole event was extremely well received."


After the school figures, only four points separated the top four senior women. Carole Jane Pachl, who would go on to win the Canadian title from 1955 to 1957, was unable to compete due to injury. Barbara Gratton managed to defend her Canadian title by the slimmest of margins in a three-two split over the Glencoe Club's Sonja Currie, who won the Canadian junior title in 1953. 1952 Olympian Vera Virginia 'Vevi' Smith took the bronze, ahead of Dawn Ann Steckley, Ann Johnston and Barbara Jean Jacques.

Left: Sheldon Galbraith, Douglas Court and Barbara Gratton in Calgary. Right: Hans Gerschwiler and Sonja Currie. Photos courtesy "The Albertan".

Barbara Gratton's winning free skate was set to a medley of music from the 1937 Walt Disney film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".  She was seventeen years old and a grade thirteen student at Loretto Abbey in Toronto. She planned to attend the University Of Toronto in the autumn.


Peter Firstbrook had turned professional, paving the way for a new Canadian Champion to be crowned in Calgary. Charles Snelling and Douglas Court sported Canadian 'flashes' from their trip to the World Championships in Oslo. Snelling had been the runner-up to Firstbrook at the previous year's Canadians; Douglas Court the junior men's champion. Despite an unusual wardrobe malfunction - a pocket comb falling out of his jacket early in his free skating performance - Snelling held on to his lead in the figures to unanimously defeat Court and the third men's competitor, Toronto's Paul Tatton.

Charles Snelling was only sixteen and was so excited by winning the Minto Cup that he carried it around at the after party. He was a grade eleven student from Toronto who enjoyed playing baseball, building model airplanes and collecting photographs of street cars.

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.

Let's Talk Toe-Loop's!

Legendary skaters like Ulrich Salchow and Axel Paulsen live on in the skating lexicon through the jumps which bear their names. Alois Lutz, an obscure Viennese skater who only ever competed in junior events in Austria, lives on with his namesake leap. His much more successful German neighbour, Werner Rittberger, invented the Rittberger jump, known outside of Europe as the loop. The flip and toe-loop share more in common than their backwards toe-pick takeoff. They are the only two major jumps who aren't named after their inventors. Today's Skate Guard blog will take a look at why that may be.

I think it goes without saying that in the early twentieth century, figure skating didn't have the same obsession with jumping as it does today. A successful skater possessed a strong mastery of the school figures and in free skating aspired only to present a charming program peppered with novel moves - a toe-pirouette here, a special figure there, maybe a spiral, pose or small jump to accentuate a highlight in the rinkside orchestra's music. Jumps were by and large experiments.

Photo courtesy "The Art Of Skating" by Irving Brokaw

One such 'experiment' that started popping up in programs in the Edwardian era was the (unattributed) Spectacle or Brillen jump, which Irving Brokaw described in his 1913 book "The Art Of Skating". The Brillen jump took off from a back outside edge with a toe-pick assist, with the skater landing on the left back outside edge. At the time, the Axel and loop were perhaps the most popular jumps and the Brillen never quite took off. 

One man who has been credited with the invention of the toe-loop is Bruce Mapes, a talented professional skater married to the famous ice show star Evelyn Chandler. It's important to bear in mind that in the era of Prohibition and the Great Depression - when Mapes would have likely been including the jump in show numbers - skaters relied on letters, telegrams and word of mouth to communicate innovations in the sport. They didn't have smartphones they could post their new tricks on Instagram with. It's certainly possible that another skater in another part of the world was working on the same jump at the same time he was.

Top: A mention from "The Philadelphia Inquirer" of Jane Vaughn performing a 'toe spin loop' jump at a competition sponsored by the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society in 1936. Bottom: Clipping from the December 5, 1940 issue of "The Boston Globe", referencing Belita Jepson-Turner performing a toe-loop in an Ice Capades performance.

Going back through primary sources, you really don't see mentions of the term 'toe-loop' until the early forties. Skating coach Clarence Hislop described the jump, in a collection of more obscure jumps like the Bowhill and Back Inside Choctaw Jump, in an article that appeared in "Skating" magazine in December of 1943. However, he didn't credit its invention to anyone. 

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

Three years earlier in her book "Advanced Figure Skating", Maribel Vinson Owen termed the leap simply 'outside back toe-point jump'. She wrote, "Some of the most breath-taking jumps I have ever seen have been simple ones done superbly well. [An] excellent example... is my husband's OB toe-point jump, an elementary jump which is one of the first every beginner learns. Yet Guy [Owen] removes it from the beginner's class by rising it sometimes as high as three feet off the ice and hanging suspended in mid-air for several seconds." 

Roller skaters called the jump the Mapes and it enjoyed far more popularity on rollers in its infancy than on the ice. In fact, many skating textbooks published in the fifties talk about double Salchow, loop, flip, Lutz and Axel jumps but omit the toe-loop entirely. In Canada, it was for many years called a cherry flip; in Germany the Tipp-Rittberger. Others still called it a tap-loop, toe spin loop or a Charlie.

Clipping from the February 18, 1963 issue of "The Calgary Albertan", referencing Tommy Litz's triple toe-loop at the North American Championships

When Donald Jackson won the World Championships in 1962, a double toe-loop he performed late in his program was a mere embellishment to the effortless triple Lutz and triple Salchow he'd already performed. Hershey, Pennsylvania's Tommy Litz brought the toe-loop to center stage the following year, landing a triple in his free skating performance at the 1963 U.S. Championships in California. The handwritten notes of British journalist Dennis L. Bird confirm that Litz was the first skater to land a triple toe-loop at the Winter Olympics, in 1964. He also landed the jump at the 1964 World Championships in Dortmund.

Tommy Litz

In the decade that followed, the triple toe-loop seemed to catch on like wildfire. In 1966, David McGillvray landed the jump in the junior men's event at the Canadian Championships. The following year, he landed it in the senior men's event, but finished fourth overall. The next two Olympic Gold Medallists, Austria's Wolfgang Schwarz and Czechoslovakia's Ondrej Nepela, had the triple toe-loop in their arsenal, as did Tim Wood, the Olympic Silver Medallist in 1968 and World Champion in 1969 and 1970. At the 1976 Canadian Championships, Canada's Ron Shaver opened his program with a rare feat - a sequence of three triple toe-loops in a row.

Clipping from the February 8, 1969 issue of "The Oakland Californian" referencing Tina Noyes' triple toe-loop at the controversial 1969 North American Championships

The first woman to (unsuccessfully) attempt a triple toe-loop at the World Championships was Christine Errath in 1974. By the 1976 season, a small handful of women, including Errath, Dianne de Leeuw and Elena Vodorezova, were having success with the jump in competition. The first woman to include a triple toe-loop in her winning program at the World Championships was Linda Fratianne in 1977. She wasn't the first American woman to attempt the triple toe-loop though - Tina Noyes, Janet Lynn and Melissa Militano all had the jump in their repertoires.

Elaine Zayak performing in 1982

As triple toe-loop's became 'a thing' in the late sixties and early seventies, there came to be a decidedly American preoccupation with the the toe-loop and its variation, the toe-Walley. The difference, one was told, was in the entrance and that the toe-Walley took off from an inside edge, not an outside one. This became a talking point when Elaine Zayak won the 1982 World Championships with six triple jumps - all toe-loop's, Salchows and toe-Walley's - and the infamous 'Zayak rule' came into play. In "Tracings" magazine in 1983, Alexandra Stevenson wrote, "There may be quite a controversy over triple toe-Walley's this year. For a right-footed jumper, a toe-Walley is a jump from a right inside edge and the left toe, turning counter-clockwise. The trouble is that after the approach, a left three turn, almost no one steps onto the inside edge. They step onto the outside edge. That makes the jump a toe-loop jump. The new regulations state that a triple jump cannot be repeated except that one triple can be repeated in combination. At Skate America, Cynthia Coull of Canada did a triple toe-loop, a triple toe-loop in combination and a triple toe-Walley. How can the judges tell if it's a true triple toe-Walley? Most skaters are playing it safe and not trying it. Cynthia's coach, Kerry Leitch, says he has talked to many judges who say the toe-Walley can be accepted as a separate triple, but I know of many who won't. It will be interesting to see what this quarrel brings up internationally." The fact that slow-mo replay was not something that ISU judges had access to under the 6.0 system is something definitely worth considering.

Clipping from the March 26, 1963 issue of the "Edmonton Journal" referencing Kurt Browning's quadruple toe-loop at the 1988 World Championships

Later in the eighties, there was more toe-loop controversy. Jozef Sabovčík's historic first quadruple toe-loop was ratified, then wasn't, and Kurt Browning was credited as the first man to officially land the jump two years later. Sabovčík had his redemption in 1995, when he made history as the first skater to land the jump in professional competition at the Men's Outdoor Championships in Sun Valley. Thanks largely to Elvis Stojko, quadruple toe-loop's became the name of the game by the late nineties and in 2018, Alexandra Trusova was credited by the ISU as the first woman to land the jump in an ISU Championship.

Though the base value for a triple toe-loop under the IJS system is currently only a 4.20, the complex history of the toe-loop jump really deserves a 6.0.


Only jumps receiving a 0 or positive GOE were considered when compiling this data.


Olympic Games

World Championships

European Championships

Four Continents Championships

Triple toe-loop (men's)

Jeffrey Buttle, Sergei Davydov, Anton Kovalevski, Stefan Lindemann, Evan Lysacek, Viktor Pfeifer, Evgeni Plushenko, Emanuel Sandhu, Matt Savoie, Shawn Sawyer, Zoltán Tóth, Kevin van der Perren, Tomáš Verner, Johnny Weir, Min Zhang (2006, short program)

Kristoffer Berntsson, Gheorghe Chiper, Samuel Contesti, Yon Garcia, Brian Joubert, Maciej Kuś, Stéphane Lambiel, Viktor Pfeifer, Roman Serov, Silvio Smalun, Kevin van der Perren, Min Zhang (2005, Qualifying Group B)

Gheorghe Chiper, Andrei Griazev, John Hamer, Stéphane Lambiel, Viktor Pfeifer, Roman Serov, Kevin van der Perren (2005, short program)

Sean Carlow, Gareth Echardt, Ben Ferreira, Kazumi Kishimoto, Chengjiang Li, Justin Pietersen, Matt Savoie, Shawn Sawyer, Daisuke Takahashi, Min Zhang (2005, short program)

Triple toe-loop (women's)

Silvia Fontana, Tuğba Karademir, Fleur Maxwell (2006, short program)

Miki Ando, Joanne Carter, Sasha Cohen, Idora Hegel, Lina Johansson, Yan Liu, Susanna Pöykiö, Joannie Rochette, Júlia Sebestyén (2005, Qualifying Group B)

Candice Didier, Laura Fernández, Carolina Kostner, Lina Johansson, Karen Venhuizen (2005, short program)

Amber Corwin, Na Hou, Yukari Nakano (2005, short program)

Quadruple toe-loop (men's)

Evgeni Plushenko, Emanuel Sandhu, Min Zhang (2006, short program)

Stéphane Lambiel, Min Zhang (2005, Qualifying Group B)

Brian Joubert, Stéphane Lambiel (2005, short program)

Chengjiang Li, Daisuke Takahashi, Min Zhang (2005, short program)

Quadruple toe-loop (women's)

Kamila Valieva (2022, team event free skate)


Alexandra Trusova (2020, free skate)


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.

Softly, Deftly, Music Shall Surround You: Tracing The Origins Of Figure Skating Warhorses

Photo courtesy New York Public Library

In the mid-twentieth century, the expression 'warhorse' became part of the international vocabulary, often used to describe a work of art or music that became familiar because it was seen or shown many times. 

Though there are millions of amazing pieces of music in the world, the figure skating world has long had a tendency to circle back to warhorses. When one skater has used a piece of music to effect, coaches or choreographes often take notice. It's a rare example of recycling not being good for the (figure skating) environment.

Cheeky 1940's music suggestions. Photo courtesy "Skating World" magazine..

The music that some consider to be overused in figure skating today isn't the same music that was considered to be overused in decades past. In the first half of the twentieth century, Strauss waltzes and pieces like "The Dream Of Olwen" and "Les Patineurs" were used ad nauseum. At the 1964 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, no less than seven skaters performed to music from the same operetta -  Franz von Suppé's "Banditenstreiche". The latter pieces are rarely used today, but programs to pieces like "Carmen" and "West Side Story" are a dime a dozen. 

Jeffrey Buttle's program to "In This Shirt" by The Irrepressibles

I've combed back issues of "Skating", "Skating World", "The Skater" and "The Canadian Skater" magazine and old books and put together an interesting little list of warhorses and their surprising possible origins. In some cases, the skaters who first used a piece of music are quite obvious (Michelle Kwan's free skate to the soundtrack from "The Red Violin" for example) while others, like Maurice Ravel's famous composition "Bolero" (made famous in skating by Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean) might surprise you. What are your favourite and least favourite skating warhorses?


Possible Original Performer(s)


Willy Böckl, "The Land Of The Midnight Sun" (Skating Club of New York carnival), 1930

Music Of The Night from Phantom Of The Opera

Dorothy Hamill, 1987 World Professional Championships

El Tango De Roxanne from Moulin Rouge

Evgeni Plushenko, 2001/02 free skate (amateur competitions)


Finale, 1934 Ice Follies of the Toronto Skating Club

Exogenesis (Muse)

Sinead and John Kerr, 2010/2011 free dance (amateur competitions)


Marion Davies, 1949 gala at Queen's Ice Rink, Armando 'Pancho' Rodriguez, 1950 free skate (amateur competitions)


Maria Butyrskaya, 1997/98 free skate (amateur competitions)

Blues For Klook

Maya Usova and Alexandr Zhulin, 1992/93 free dance (amateur competitions)

Lawrence Of Arabia

Jimmy Crockett, 1963 All Year Figure Skating Club carnival

La Tosca

Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, 1992 Tom Collins Tour Of Champions


Sergio Ballongue, 1980/81 free skate (amateur competitions)

The Mission

Paul Wylie, 1988/89 free skate (amateur competitions)

The Nutcracker

Used in no less than six different North American club carnivals in 1940

Reel Around The Sun from Riverdance

Opening Number, 1996 Elvis Tour of Champions, Kate Robinson and Peter Breen, 1996/97 free dance and Aren Nielsen, 1996/97 free skate (amateur competitions)

The Red Violin

Michelle Kwan, 1999/2000 free skate (amateur competitions)


Mary Jane Halsted, Margaret Leslie and Lorraine Hopkins, 1936 Montreal Winter Club carnival


Harrison Thomson, 1939 Hollywood Ice Revue

Samson And Delilah

Peggy Fleming, 1967/68 free skate (amateur competitions)

Clair de Lune

Vivi-Anne Hultén, 1939 Skating Club Of New York carnival

Moonlight Sonata

Opening Number, 1934 Ice Follies of the Toronto Skating Club

The Feeling Begins from The Last Temptation Of Christ

Jill Trenary, 1992 U.S. Open Professional Figure Skating Championships

Romeo And Juliet

Mary Bohland and Don Condon, 1945 Ice Follies

West Side Story

Peggy Fleming, 1967/68 exhibition program

Rhapsody In Blue

Group Number starring Maribel Vinson and George E.B. Hill, 1935 Skating Club Of Boston carnival

Schindler's List

Paul Wylie, 1994 Vicks 44 North American Open

The Firebird

Cathleen (Pope) and Willie Frick, 1936 Skating Club Of Boston carnival


Brian Orser, 2002 Kurt Browning's Gotta Skate II

Feelin' Good

Caryn Kadavy, 2005 Desjardins World Team Skating Challenge

Swan Lake

Up for serious debate – Lucienne Bonne and Sonja Henie both performed “Dying Swan” routines around the same time and Lucienne claimed Sonja stole the act from her. The first was also perhaps Charlotte Oelschlägel, who Maribel Vinson Owen recalled seeing perform to it on a trip to Europe in 1931.

Once Upon A Time In Mexico

Evgeni Plushenko, Stephen Carriere, Marcy Hinzmann and Aaron Parchem and Alexander Aiken, 2005/06 free skates (amateur competitions)

Nessun Dorma

Erik Larson, 1989/90 free skate (amateur competitions)

In This Shirt

Jeffrey Buttle, 2012 Medal Winners Open

Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini

Hayes Alan Jenkins, 1956 on The Ed Sullivan Show

Nothing Else Matters

Steven Cousins, 1995 ISU European Tour Of Champions

Who Wants To Live Forever?

Viktor Petrenko, 1990 World Championships (exhibition)

Paint It Black

Hilary Green and Glyn Watts, 1975/1976 free dance (amateur competitions)

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.

A Wartime President: The George M. Patterson Story

Mrs. C.M. Taylor and George M. Patterson. Photo courtesy University Of Manitoba, Digital Collections.

"There is no substitute for good coaching and hard work." - George M. Patterson, "The Winnipeg Tribune", January 30, 1942

The son of Jane Wauchop (MacKenzie) and Ephraim Patterson, George MacKenzie Patterson was born April 19, 1878 in the village of Lanark, Ontario, which was then a major hub of the textile and lumber industry. His father was a highly-respected clergyman with the Episcopal church who for many years served as the public school inspector in Stratford. George was the youngest of fourteen children, seven of whom survived infancy.

Like many young Canadians in the Victorian era, George took up ice skating as a recreation to pass time during the long Ontario winters. An avid winter sports enthusiast, he also excelled at both snowshoeing and hockey. In 1898, he and James Philip Fennell penned the book "Directions And Rules For Playing The Game Of Hockey: A New Parlour Game".


It wasn't until George was in his thirties, when he moved to Winnipeg to take a job as the manager of the Portage Avenue branch of the Bank of Commerce, that he became involved with figure skating. At the time, the Anglican Church had started its own skating club and the Winnipeg Skating Club was in its developmental stages. George served as the Club's Secretary-Treasurer beginning in 1906, then as President from 1910 to 1917. He helped organize fancy dress skating carnivals in aid of the Returned Soldiers' Association and Canadian Patriotic Fund during The Great War.

George won an informal ice waltzing contest with Mrs. C.M. Taylor during Wartime and acted as the trainer for the Bank Of Commerce's hockey team. His performance in the Winnipeg Skating Club's carnival in March of 1916 was described in the "Winnipeg Evening Tribune" thusly: "Mr. G.M. Patterson's single figure skating was perhaps the most enjoyable of the evening and many were the gasps of surprise as this finished skater when through the intricate figures, many of which were original."

In 1919, George and his wife Gertrude (Robins) moved to Worthing, Surrey, England. Three years later, Gertrude passed away suddenly at the age of forty-seven. George eventually returned to Canada, settling in Quebec during The Great Depression. He served as the Montreal Winter Club's President and appeared as an Admiral and The Old Lady Who Lived In The Shoe in carnivals. 

George's most important contributions to figure skating occurred during World War II. After serving a one-year term as Vice-President of the Canadian Figure Skating Association under A.L. Dysart, he was elected as President of the CFSA in 1942 - a position he held until 1944, when he was succeeded by Melville Rogers, who had been President of the Figure Skating Department of the Amateur Skating Association of Canada from 1936 to 1938. After his second term of President, he served as a Councillor-at-Large.

Having done much to keep figure skating alive in Western Canada during the first World War, George was the perfect person to take on the CFSA's Presidency during World War II. Though conditions necessitated the cancellation of most of the important senior Championships during his Presidency, George worked hard to keep carnivals, tests and competitions going despite challenging economic conditions and high numbers of members serving in the military or engaged in War work on the home front. One of the events that did end up happening was the 1944 Canadian Championships. It was there that Barbara Ann Scott won her first of four Canadian senior women's titles. George served as one of Barbara Ann's judges at that event - one of few CFSA Presidents who judged at the Canadian Championships before, during and after their Presidencies.

During the time George was the CFSA's President, the newly-formed organization quietly blossomed despite all odds, boasting forty member clubs from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Victoria, British Columbia. Numerous revisions were made to the organization's test structure, Constitution and Rules. The excellent book "Reflections Of The CFSA: 1887-1990, A History Of The Canadian Figure Skating Association" recalled, "In 1944, President George Patterson made the first real attempt to formalize the organization of the Association. An executive committee was introduced through an amendment to the constitution. The executive committee would include the President, two Vice-Presidents - the second was added at that time - the Secretary-Treasurer and two councillors at large - all of whom were to be elected at the annual general meeting... All officers would hold their positions for one year."

A generous benefactor of skating in Quebec, George donated a perpetual trophy to the Montreal Silver Blades Skaters for their annual ice dance competition. He passed away in Montreal on July 24, 1966 at the age of eighty-eight, having toiled quietly behind the scenes to help Canadian figure skating survive and thrive during two World Wars.

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.

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