Free Book Promotion

From now until January 31, the Kindle E-Book edition of "A Bibliography of Figure Skating" is available through a special promotion for a free download on Amazon. 

Download your free copy of this fascinating catalogue of figure skating books and magazines and leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads!


The link to download the free E-Book in Canada is: https://a.co/d/cE9ekFp

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For other countries, simply head over for Amazon, search for "A Bibliography of Figure Skating" and click on the Kindle E-Book edition, then download.

If you enjoy the book, please consider adding "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating" to your library!

Off The Charts

On January 25, "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating" hit 1-2-3 on Amazon.ca's Best Sellers list for Ice & Figure Skating Books. Thank you all so, so much for your support and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I loved writing them. If so, please consider leaving an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads so that more people can find the books.

If you haven't ordered copies yet and want learn more about all three books before deciding which one(s) are best for you, click here.

The 1962 European Figure Skating Championships


On February 27, 1962, Vietnamese President Ngô Đình Diệm survived a failed assassination attempt. Fifty four miners in Yugoslavia weren't so lucky - they perished in the Tito Coal Mine collapse. The atmosphere was much lighter at the indoor Patinoires des Vernets in Geneva, Switzerland, where spectators hummed Joey Dee & The Starliter's new hit "The Peppermint Twist" on the first day of the European Figure Skating Championships.

  

The venue's surface was two hundred and thirty feet by one hundred and thirty and the rink had room for upwards of twelve thousand spectators. The event was the first major ISU Championship since the Sabena Crash the previous year that claimed the lives of the entire U.S. figure skating team. Three of the defending champions, Alain Giletti of France and Doreen Denny and Courtney Jones of Great Britain, had moved on from the competitive ranks, opening the door for new winners in the men's and pairs events. Let's take a look back at how things played out!

THE MEN'S COMPETITION


Two time European Champion Karol Divín of Czechoslovakia, competing in his first European Championships since 1959, narrowly defeated France's Alain Calmat five judges to four in the school figures. Divín had a massive thirty three point lead after the first four figures but botched his fifth, the change loop. Malcolm Cannon of Great Britain won the change loop, while West Germany's Manfred Schnelldorfer took the sixth, the back paragraph bracket. After all six figures were performed, Divín's lead was decimated to only ten and a half points and a small majority of ordinals.

Left: Karol Divín. Right: Malcolm Cannon. Photo courtesy "Skating World" magazine.

The tables turned in the free skate when all but Italian judge Ercole Cattaneo had Alain Calmat - who had the skate of his life - first in that phase of the competition. Cattaneo gave first place marks to East Germany's Bodo Bockenauer. Bockenauer actually defeated Divín in the free skate, but he was so far back in the figures that he could only manage sixth place overall. Divín took the silver; Manfred Schnelldorfer the bronze. A pair of Austrians, Peter Jonas and Emmerich Danzer, were fourth and fifth. Danzer's program included a triple Salchow attempt. Great Britain's Robin Jones and Malcolm Cannon, placed seventh and twelfth. Schnelldorfer had to be the unluckiest skater in Geneva. In the weeks leading up to the event, he injured his foot in Frankfurt and his back in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. When he took to the ice for his free skate, there was a problem with his record and his music was played at a tempo so fast he never would have been able to keep up with it.

Photo courtesy Elaine Hooper, BIS Archive

One unusual judging discrepancy were the marks given to Soviet skater Valerii Meshkov. The Hungarian judge had Meshkov third in the free skate, while no other judge had him higher than ninth. There was no Soviet judge on the men's panel in Geneva, but there were most certainly Soviet officials in attendance.

THE ICE DANCE COMPETITION

Photo courtesy Elaine Hooper, BIS Archive

After fourteen couples danced the Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, Kilian and Tango, France's Christiane and Jean Paul Guhel earned four first place ordinals to Great Britain's Linda Shearman and Michael Phillips' one. The Swiss judge - preferring to stay neutral - tied the two couples. In the free dance, the Swiss judge tied Shearman and Phillips with Czechoslovakia's Eva Romanová and Pavel Roman. The Italian judge had Shearman and Phillips first, the French judge had the Guhel's first and the rest voted for Romanová and Roman. By two ordinal placings, the Guhel's narrowly defeated Shearman and Phillips to take the gold. Despite winning the free dance, Romanová and Roman were only able to  move up to take the bronze over Great Britain's Mary Parry and Roy Mason, who had defeated them in the compulsories. It was the first time ever a British couple didn't stand atop the European podium.

In her book "Figure Skating History: The Evolution Of Dance On Ice", Lynn Copley-Graves recalled, "The free dance attracted 8,000 (3,000 more than for the ladies' final!). The Guhel's earned a 5.3 and some 5.4's in an elegant but not overwhelmingly difficult program with a cha-cha section. Eva Romanová and Pavel Roman... [Dennis Bird thought they] were 'easily best in the free,' incorporating unusual touches in a program that 'looked like pair skating without the jumps'. Howard Bass thought the top three couples were "virtually inseparable in quality"... Ann Cross and Len Williams had neat footwork a la Len Liggett, but their personalities did not come across. The crowd cheered for Györgyi Korda and Pál Vásárhelyi, twelfth, who skated a Csárdás - a national Hungarian dance of passionate character and changing tempo. They excited the audience and paved the way for incorporating folk dances in the free dance, causing [Dennis Bird] to remark, 'The adaptation to the ice of other national dances from Eastern Europe or Spain would be a welcome variation in the somewhat limited programmes seen at present". Royston Sidley thought the judges were too generous with Eva and Pavel, but NSA roller Gold Test Judge Ralph Hullah preferred them over the British. 'The Czechs ... did skate, and we did get some rhythmic undulating edge running from them, instead of all that prancing up and down on toe-rakes we had to suffer from others... For the first fifteen seconds [Shearman and Phillips] didn't cover more than a square yard of ice - they just pranced up and down on their toe-rakes. How the referee knew when to start his stop-watch is beyond me, because normally it is started from the first edge to be skated . . . later the man practically knelt on the ice while the girl went into orbit around him. This to me wasn't free dancing.'"

THE WOMEN'S COMPETITION


Karl Schäfer watching his student Helli Sengtschmid practice her figures in Geneva

Defending European Champion Sjoukje Dijkstra earned five first place ordinals in the figures, while the British and Czechoslovakian judge placed Austria's Regine Heitzer first. Heitzer won two figures, the forward loop-change-loop and the backward paragraph bracket. Dijkstra was no stranger to Switzerland. Though she spent much of the year training in England, she'd often practice in Davos during the winter months with her Swiss coach Arnold Gerschwiler.

Video courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd

In the free skate, seven judges again had twenty year old Dijkstra first. This time it was the British and French judges who had her second. Both had Austria's Helli Sengtschmid, first in the free skate. Some felt that Sengtschmid gave the performance of the evening. One reporter from "Le Nouvelliste" remarked, "By her admirably rhythmic program, by the daring of her figures and her natural grace in the eyes of the public, [she] surpassed the title holder."

Sjoukje Dijkstra and her father. Photo courtesy Dutch National Archives.

Despite the four second place ordinals (two in figures and two in free skating), Dijkstra was still unanimously first overall. Heinz Maegerlein noted, "In contrast to the previous year in Berlin, this time she also skated a glamorous [program], interspersed with high single and double jumps and was balanced and [performed a] difficult combination of steps."

Photo courtesy Elaine Hooper, BIS Archive

Regine Heitzer, Karin Frohner and Helli Sengtschmid occupied places second through fourth. Great Britain's two entries, Diana Clifton-Peach and Jacqueline Harbord, finished fifth and ninth. A young Gaby Seyfert, competing in only her second Europeans, placed twelfth and Tamara Bratus (Moskvina) was nineteenth.

THE PAIRS COMPETITION



Twelve teams, including defending Champions Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler, vied for gold in Geneva. The event marked the ISU's first experimental trial of a two-program format. Sonia Bianchetti Garbato remembered, "The free program [was performed] twice on consecutive days, with the first performance being marked closed - that is with no marks displayed. The result was calculated but not announced. The draw of the starting order for the second performance was based upon the result of the first, with the better pairs placed skating in the last group. The second performance was marked open in the usual manner, but the final result was based upon the combined marks for both performances." Dennis L. Bird recalled that the first round of competition "was virtually a series of exhibitions, lacking the zestful atmosphere of public marking, and skated before a small and unenthusiastic audience." The fact that the couples were kept in the dark over the results of the first round in the twenty four hours between skates undoubtedly psyched some of them out.


The results tell the story of a very close competition. Kilius and Bäumler had four first place ordinals, Soviets Ludmilla Belousova and Oleg Protopopov three and West Germans Franz Ningel (Kilius' former partner) and Margret Göbl two. Less than five ordinal placings separated the top three, and Kilius and Bäumler managed to defend their title by the slimmest of margins, much to the delight of their coach Erich Zeller. Disappointingly, Valerie Hunt and Peter Burrows were forced to withdraw prior to the first program due to illness. Great Britain's only other entry, Vera Jeffery and Peter Webb, placed dead last. Webb was an accomplished speed skater.

Photo courtesy Elaine Hooper, BIS Archive

As is often the case, there was a little more to the story of the pairs event in Geneva than the results would suggest. Heinz Magerlein noted, "Göbl and Ningel were given serious prospects for the European Championships in Geneva... The first day in Geneva's new splendid indoor stadium seemed to support this prediction. The first day... because for the first time the couples fought on the ice on two days... the rating should have been secret, but it was not... Obviously, in the world of figure skating nothing can remain secret... It was clear the morning after the first skate that Göbl and Ningel would have won the title. On the second day, they lost the title because they were nervous, probably in the consciousness of being suddenly clear favourites. When the otherwise clean Franz Ningel fell [twice], the big chance was gone. Belousova and Protopopov skated best that evening, but Kilius and Bäumler won as the pair with the better average of both programs, becoming the European Champions for the fourth time."

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of 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 1953 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

Jukeboxes were playing Teresa Brewer's hit "Till I Waltz Again With You" and Americans were embracing the latest food fads - the TV dinner, Kraft Cheez Whiz and Kellogg's Sugar Smacks. The year was 1953, and from March 25 to 28, the Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania played host to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.


It was the first time that Hershey played host to the U.S. Championships. Chaired by William O. Hickok IV, the event was held was held in conjunction with the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the community known as the 'The Sweetest Place On Earth' for its ties to chocolate production. The Sports Arena where the event was held was located in Hershey Park and was part of the Milton Hershey Recreational Center. The ice surface was 90 X 190 feet, with seating for up to six thousand. Skaters and officials were housed at two hotels - The Hershey Hotel and Community Inn, the latter within walking distance of the Arena. 

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

At the competition, Benjamin T. Wright made history as the first USFSA certified Chief Accountant to be in charge of the accounting room. Social events included a Buffet Supper and Dance at Park Golf Club and the Judges and Officials Dinner at The Hershey Hotel. At the dance, Maribel Vinson Owen and Robin Greiner showed off their Charleston-Valentine combination and everyone performed the "Mexican Hat Dance Shuffle". But what happened on the ice that long weekend in March? Let's take a look back and find out!

THE NOVICE AND JUNIOR EVENTS



Thirteen women entered the novice women's competition and five were eliminated after the school figures. The free skating caused great division among the judges. Ultimately, five judges scattered first place ordinals between the top four women. Diane 'Dee Dee' Wayland of the Blade and Edge Club, who won the bronze, was the only one of the four to earn two first place ordinals. The gold was won by Los Angeles' Janice Marie Crappa and the silver by Carol Heiss' sister Nancy. Fourteen year old Muriel Reich of Lake Placid finished fourth. Crappa, who took an unusual fall on a spin in her free skating program, was a tiny fourteen year old eighth grade student at Mount Vernon Select School in Pasadena, California.

Barlow Nelson

Excellent free skating performances launched Barlow Nelson and Robin Greiner ahead of the winner of the novice men's school figures, Richard Swenning. Less than four points separated the top three men. Bradley Lord, who finished sixth, would go on to win the U.S. senior men's title and perish in the Sabena Crash in 1961. Robert Lee Brewer, who placed dead last, later represented the U.S. at the 1960 Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley. Nelson was a sixteen year old sophomore at Will Rogers High School who enjoyed sailing and developing his own films. He was the first man in history from the state of Oklahoma to win a U.S. title at any level.

David Jenkins

David Jenkins moved up from fourth (and last) after figures to win the junior men's title with a difficult free skating performance. One judge gave him a 9.5 and a 9.7. Six foot tall Guy Nick of the Lakewood Winter Club, first after figures, took the silver and Tim Brown the bronze. Jenkins, the younger brother of the reigning World Champion, was five foot four, sixteen years old and a junior at the Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado.

Rose Mary Lyons and Joseph Nowack of California won the initial round of the Silver Dance competition, but their performance in the finals dropped them down to third. New York siblings Katrine and William Neil, who narrowly lost the title the year prior, were the winners. Andree Anderson, who would go on to win the U.S. title and medal twice at the World Championships, finished dead last with partner Arthur Dammkoehler. Katrine Neil was a twenty-four year old secretary; Bill Neil a nineteen year old geology student at Union College in Schenectady.

Patricia Firth

The junior women's event was so close that the accountants had to add up each skater's total points to determine the winner. Seventeen year old Patricia 'Patsy' Firth won 1013.5 to 1010.2 over sixteen year old Catherine Machado. Mary Ann Dorsey moved up from fourth after figures to win the bronze. Georgina Sutton, the young woman who finished fourth, had ordinals ranging from third to seventh place. Seventeen year old Firth hailed from Seattle. Her older sister Mary taught skating in Toronto. Off the ice, she enjoyed ballet, Spanish dancing, opera and horseback riding. The summer after winning the title, Firth was chosen as the Good Posture Queen for the State of Washington during Good Posture Week. I love that Good Posture Week was a thing!

Five teams from five different clubs competed for the Joel B. Liberman Trophy in junior pairs. With four first place ordinals, Norma McCullagh and Robert E. Goodfellow, Jr. of the the Rye Figure Skating Club were victorious. McCullagh was an eighteen year old stenographer at an engineering firm and Goodfellow a senior at Iona Preparatory School. Both had a roller skating background, and Goodfellow was a national senior champion in baton twirling!

THE ICE DANCE COMPETITION



Dancers performed four compulsories - the Three-Lobe Waltz, Argentine Tango, Kilian and Viennese Waltz - in addition to a free dance. Carol Peters and Danny Ryan of Washington Figure Skating Club managed to pull off a win but they faced stiff competition from the second place team Virginia Hoyns and Donald Jacoby of Philadelphia, who earned two first place ordinals. Carmel and Ed Bodel, fourth after compulsories, moved up to claim the bronze over New York's Phyllis Schroeder and Martin Forney. The judge from Baltimore dared to place the winners dead last in the Finals.

THE MEN'S COMPETITION

Hayes Alan Jenkins

As expected, Hayes Alan Jenkins was first after the school figures, followed by Hugh Graham Jr., Dudley Richards and Ronnie Robertson. Jenkins won the free skate and gold medal, completing the 'triple crown' or 'grand slam' of World, North American and U.S. titles. His flawless free skating performance to Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" featured double Axels and double loops. Robertson rebounded to take the silver and win Oscar L. Richard Trophy with a program that featured double Axels, flips, loops and Salchows, not to mention dazzling spins. Harvard undergrad Richards took the bronze, but had two second place ordinals, and Graham dropped to fourth.


When an Associated Press photographer snapped an innocent shot of Dick Button congratulating Hayes Alan Jenkins after his win, an arcane USFSA rule in place at the time was broken. Technically, amateurs were prohibited from even having their picture taken with professionals. Nothing of consequence ever came of it.

THE PAIRS COMPETITION

Carole Ann Ormaca

Carole Ann Ormaca and Robin Greiner of Fresno, California won the senior pairs title. In "Skating" magazine, Sandy Thomas recalled, "[Their] number... sang out 'smooth' from start to finish. [They] 'work' the rink in an unusual oblique manner which is sheer pleasure to watch." Tulsa siblings Margaret Anne and Hugh Graham, Jr. finished a disappointing second after a fall, one spot ahead of Kay Servatius and Sully Kothman of Colorado Springs. The senior pairs was the only discipline at Nationals where all five judges completely agreed on their placements of every skater or couple. Ormaca was a sixteen year old junior at Roosevelt High School and Robin a twenty year old junior at Fresno State College. She loved to sew; he loved to play the piano and dance. It was the pair's first trip to Nationals together.

THE WOMEN'S COMPETITION

Tenley Albright and Hayes Alan Jenkins in Hershey

As expected, Tenley Albright her defended her national title with considerable ease. Earning unanimous first place ordinals and one score of 9.9 in her free skating, she made history as the first American woman to complete a 'triple crown' of World, North American and U.S. titles. Writing in "The New York Times", Lincoln A. Werden recalled, "After she had finished skating to the music of Offenbach's 'Fantasy', the crowd realized the importance of her triumph, the first of its kind in American annals. From all parts of the arena, waves of applause greeted the smiling girl long before the judges walked out on the ice with raised score cards that signified authentic approval in proper mathematical fashions."


Thirteen year old Carol Heiss of Ozone Park, second in figures, also skated sensationally in the free skate. Where Albright's program showcased maturity and poise, Heiss' highlighted youth and daring. Her program included Axels, a double loop and double flip. Margaret Anne Graham, a cheerleader at Tulsa University, took the bronze ahead of Miggs Dean and Kay Servatius.

Carol Heiss and Tenley Albright. Photo courtesy Hershey Community Archives.

Interestingly, the judge from Tulsa - George B. Jenkinson - had Graham ahead of Heiss and was the only judge to do so. Five foot six, seventeen year old Nancy Minneard of Akron, who finished dead last, won the Oscar L. Richard Trophy for most artistic performance. Off the ice, she collected windblown glass figurines.

The Bedell H. Harned Trophy for the club winning the most points was shared between the Los Angeles and Boston clubs after both teams tied. The Tulsa Figure Skating Club, which finished third, was only one point behind the winning clubs.

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

American Jumping Firsts Under The IJS System

 
Mirai Nagasu. Photo courtesy C. Nabe, shared via Creative Commons license, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

When the IJS System was introduced, it was a 'wiping of the slate' in a way. Never before had jumps been evaluated individually by a technical panel to determine their cleanliness. 

With the 2023 Toyota U.S. Figure Skating Championships taking place this week in San Jose, California, I thought it might be fun to take a little look at some more recent history - the first American singles skaters to land each triple or quadruple jump in senior ISU Championships held under the IJS System. 

Nathan Chen's short program at the 2017 Four Continents Championships

JUMPING FIRSTS UNDER THE IJS SYSTEM


Solo and combination jumps receiving a 0 or positive GOE were considered when compiling this data. In cases where multiple skaters successfully landed the same jump in the same competition, the starting order was used to determine which skater achieved the jump first.

Element

Olympic Games

World Championships

Four Continents Championships

Triple toe-loop (men's)

Johnny Weir (2006, short program)

Johnny Weir (2005, qualifying group)

Matt Savoie (2005, short program)

Triple toe-loop (women's)

Rachael Flatt (2010, short program)

Sasha Cohen (2005, qualifying group)

Amber Corwin (2005, short program)

Triple Salchow (men's)

Matt Savoie (2006, free skate)

Evan Lysacek (2005, qualifying group)

Derrick Delmore (2005, free skate)

Triple Salchow (women's)

Emily Hughes (2006, free skate)

Sasha Cohen (2005, qualifying group)

Amber Corwin (2005, free skate)

Triple loop (men's)

Evan Lysacek (2006, free skate)

Timothy Goebel (2005, qualifying group)

Evan Lysacek (2005, free skate)

Triple loop (women's)

Sasha Cohen (2006, free skate)

Sasha Cohen (2005, free skate)

Jennifer Kirk (2005, free skate)

Triple flip (men's)

Matt Savoie (2006, short program)

Evan Lysacek (2005, qualifying group)

Matt Savoie (2005, short program)

Triple flip (women's)

Kimmie Meissner (2006, short program)

Sasha Cohen (2005, qualifying group)

Jennifer Kirk (2005, short program)

Triple Lutz (men's)

Johnny Weir (2006, short program)

Evan Lysacek (2005, qualifying group)

Matt Savoie (2005, short program)

Triple Lutz (women's)

Emily Hughes (2006, free skate)

Michelle Kwan (2005, qualifying group)

Katy Taylor (2006, free skate)

Triple Axel (men's)

Johnny Weir (2006, short program)

Johnny Weir (2005, qualifying group)

Evan Lysacek (2005, short program)

Triple Axel (women's)

Mirai Nagasu (2018, team event free skate)

none

none

Quadruple toe-loop (men's)

Nathan Chen (2018, free skate)

Jeremy Abbott (2008, short program)

Evan Lysacek (2007, free skate)

Quadruple Salchow (men's)

Nathan Chen (2018, free skate)

Max Aaron (2013, short program)

Max Aaron (2013, short program)

Quadruple flip (men's)

Nathan Chen (2018, free skate)

Nathan Chen (2017, short program)

Nathan Chen (2017, short program)

Quadruple Lutz (men's)

Nathan Chen (2018, free skate)

Nathan Chen (2017, short program)

Nathan Chen (2017, short program)

If you found this information interesting, have I got the book for you! "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" includes a table that is identical to this one, but highlighting international firsts, of which American skaters play an important role. 

You will also find chapters on the waltz jump, toe-loop, Salchow, loop, flip, Lutz, Axel, backflip and pairs throws, side-by-side jumps and twists and plenty of other interesting data and material. The foreword is written by 1962 World Champion Donald Jackson, the first skater to land a triple Lutz jump in competition. You can buy your copy in Kindle E-Book, paperback or hard cover editions on Amazon.

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

You're Not Seeing Double!


The wait is over! "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating" are now on sale via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and select booksellers in paperback, hard cover and Kindle E-Book editions. If you've enjoyed reading the blog over the last ten years, I really think you're going to love both of these books!

TECHNICAL MERIT: A HISTORY OF FIGURE SKATING JUMPS


"Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" chronicles the history and evolution of figure skating jumps from a historical perspective, with chapters on the waltz jump, toe-loop, Salchow, loop, flip, Lutz, Axel, backflips and pairs throws, side-by-side jumps and twist lifts. 1962 World Champion Donald Jackson, the first skater to land a triple Lutz in competition, has so kindly written the foreword to this book.

What this book is: A chapter-by-chapter deep dive into the history of figure skating jumps, from a historian's perspective - the who, what, when, where and why.
What this book is not: The how. If you are looking for a book that explores physics or jump technique from a coach or technical specialist's perspective or a book that extensively covers the impact of changes in boot and blade design, that is not what this is.

Paperback: $24.99 CAD (Free 2-day shipping for Amazon Prime members)
Hard Cover: $38.02 CAD (Free 2-day shipping for Amazon Prime members, with a lead time of up to 2 weeks) 
Kindle E-Book: $7.99 CAD (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)


A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF FIGURE SKATING 


"A Bibliography of Figure Skating" is the ultimate guide to reading about skating. This reference book catalogues non-fiction figure skating books and periodicals dating back to the late 19th Century, with helpful tips on tracking down hard-to-find skating literature. If you ever wonder how I do my research for my blog, want to grow your skating library or learn more about your favourite skaters, this book will prove to be a wonderful resource for you. 

What this book is: A meticulous catalogue of hundreds of skating books and periodicals - many of which you may not be familiar with.
What this book is not: A chapter-by-chapter read or a collection of book reviews.

Paperback: $19.99 CAD (Free 2-day shipping for Amazon Prime members)
Hard Cover: $32.17 CAD (Free 2-day shipping for Amazon Prime members, with a lead time of up to 2 weeks) 
Kindle E-Book: $7.29 CAD (free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers)



Nothing would make me happier than getting these books into the hands of more people... and there are two super easy ways you can help:

- Pop into your local library and suggest they add these books to their collections or visit their website and fill in a 'Suggest a Book' or  'Recommend a Purchase' form. 
- Head over to Amazon and/or Goodreads and leave honest reviews for these books or "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating".

Thank you so much for your support and I hope you enjoy reading these books as much as I loved creating them! 

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

Three Books Are Better Than One


Two days before New Year's Eve, I knocked a cup of coffee all over my laptop. I was absolutely weak. I had spent many, many hours reworking several potential follow-up's to my first book. Not being the sharpest tool in the shed sometimes, I hadn't backed any of my work up. I rushed my computer over to a local repair shop for them to try to salvage whatever data they could, trying to be optimistic but deep down worried that all of my hard work had gone down the drain like the coffee I wrung out of a J-Cloth. The next week, I got a call saying that my laptop was as good as new and I hadn't lost any of my data whatsoever. It is truly a New Year's miracle that any of that work is even seeing the light of day and I couldn't be more excited to share it with you... which brings me to some really exciting news.

I'm thrilled to announce that you will very soon be able to add two more amazing figure skating books to your collection!


If you've already picked up your copy of "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", you will know that it is very much a reference book. "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" is a completely different style of book. If you enjoy the style and flow of the Skate Guard blogs, this book will be right up your alley. If you're a lover of skating history, it is very much a book you will struggle to put down. "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" chronicles the history and evolution of figure skating jumps from a historical perspective, with chapters on the waltz jump, toe-loop, Salchow, loop, flip, Lutz, Axel, backflips and pairs throws, side-by-side jumps and twist lifts. At the end, there are jump charts and a listing of firsts under the IJS System. As the topic has long been a subject of debate by some, I have meticulously footnoted the book from start to finish so you can see exactly how I did my research. I'm so honoured to share that the foreword for the book was penned by 1962 World Champion Don Jackson, the first skater to land a triple Lutz in competition.


Like "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", you will find that "A Bibliography of Figure Skating" is absolutely a reference book. It is truly the ultimate guide to reading about figure skating! The book catalogues non-fiction figure skating books and periodicals dating back to the late 19th Century, with helpful tips on tracking down hard-to-find skating literature. If you ever wonder how I do my research for my blog, want to grow your skating library or learn more about your favourite skaters, this book will prove to be a wonderful resource for you. 

You can pre-order the Kindle E-Book editions of both books now and receive automatic free international wireless delivery on January 27 via Amazon Whispernet. Hard-cover and paperback editions will both be available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on or before February 1. It is my sincere hope that you will enjoy flipping through these fascinating books as much as I enjoyed researching them and putting them together. 

Pre-order link for "A Bibliography of Figure Skating": https://a.co/d/2yfHhTL
Pre-order link for "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps": https://a.co/d/8mkzhtM


I would love to hear what you think about these books and "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating" - please leave an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads! It would be an incredible help in getting this important history out there to more people.

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

La Coupe Excellence


Over the years, many international figure skating competitions have come and gone. Prominent events like England's St. Ivel and Richmond Trophy and Germany's Nations Cup once drew top skaters from around the world, but are now relegated to the history books. So too is a short-lived but unique figure skating competition that took place only twice in the eighties... Canada's La Coupe Excellence.


Held at the Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard and Aréna Michel-Normandin in Montreal, La Coupe Excellence was a multi-sport event that drew over two hundred athletes from around the world - thirty-five of them former Olympians. It was first held from March 15-17, 1985. The sports that were included that year were hockey, boxing, gymnastics, weightlifting, fencing, synchronized swimming and figure skating. Jean Dussault, the general manager of the Société des Jeux du Québec explained, "The final choice of disciplines was made according to certain criteria including the level of credibility with the spectators who are an important support, and also the question of competition schedules. La Coupe Excellence replaces in a way the Quebec sports championships... The sponsors, the athletes and the federations realized that we had to orient our efforts towards the international level following the successes of our athletes at the Olympic Games in 1984. We must give our athletes the chance to compete on the international stage and they will only be better prepared for the Calgary Games in 1988." A four dollar ticket allowed spectators the chance to see as many sporting events as they wanted.

Competitors in the gymnastics and synchronized swimming events at La Coupe Excellence in 1985. Photos courtesy Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

Figure skaters from three countries (Canada, France and the United States) participated in the first year of the event. Competing in what would ultimately be their last event as representatives of Canada, Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay won the gold the ice dancing event, defeating Americans Lois Luciani and Russ Witherby and fellow Canadians Michelle McDonald and Patrick Handley. Americans Gillian Wachsman and Todd Waggoner won the pairs event, ahead of Canadians Christine Hough and Doug Ladret and Isabelle Brasseur and Pascal Courchesne. To the delight of the Montreal crowd, Quebec's Nathalie Sasseville won the women's event, ahead of Kathryn Adams, Julie Brault, Tracey Wainman and Jill Frost. Christopher Bowman won the men's event and a young Kurt Browning was fifth.

Christopher Bowman

In 1986, a blue-collar workers' strike left La Coupe Excellence's organizers scrambling at the last minute to find a new venue. The event was ultimately cancelled. An article in "The Montreal Gazette" noted, "Tournament organizers felt they could wait no longer for an end to the strike, as more then $70,000 had been committed to air fares and half that amount must be paid despite the cancellation."

Sharon Jones and Paul Askham

La Coupe Excellence returned in 1987 with skaters from Canada, the United States, West Germany and the UK participating. Brits Sharon Jones and Paul Askham won the ice dancing competition; Canadians Laureen Collin and John Penticost the pairs. Tonya Harding came from behind to win the women's event, ahead of West Germany's Patricia Neske and Canada's Diane Takeuchi. American Danny Doran was victorious in the men's competition, besting Matthew James Hall, Jaimee Eggleton, Daniel Weiss and three others.

Having fulfilled its mission of offering competitive opportunities for would-be 1988 Olympians, La Coupe Excellence fell by the wayside, but it's an important part of Quebec skating history we shouldn't forget.

MEDALLISTS AT LA COUPE EXCELLENCE

MEN

Year

Winner

2nd

3rd

1985

Christopher Bowman

Daniel Doran

Marc Ferland

1987

Daniel Doran

Matthew Hall

Jaimee Eggleton

WOMEN


Year

Winner

2nd

3rd

1985

Nathalie Sasseville

Kathryn Adams

Julie Brault

1987

Tonya Harding

Patricia Neske

Diane Takeuchi

PAIRS


Year

Winner

2nd

3rd

1985

Gillian Wachsman and Todd Waggoner

Christine Hough and Doug Ladret

Isabelle Brasseur and Pascal Courchesne

1987

Laureen Collin and John Penticost

Natalie and Wayne Seybold

Cheryl Peake and Andrew Naylor

ICE DANCE


Year

Winner

2nd

3rd

1985

Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay

Lois Luciani and Russ Witherby

Michelle McDonald and Patrick Mandley

1987

Sharon Jones and Paul Askham

April Sargent and Russ Witherby

Penny Mann and Richard Perkins


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 1950 Canadian Figure Skating Championships

Roger Wickson, Barbara Gratton, Suzanne Morrow and Roger Wickson. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

The disappearance of a U.S. Air Force C-54 transport plane and its thirty-six passengers somewhere over the Yukon was front page news. Eileen Barton had just recorded her hit song "If I Knew You Were Comin' I'd've Baked A Cake" and after years of being creative on the ration, Canadians could finally afford the ingredients to bake their favourite cakes thanks to the post-World War II economic boom in Canada.


The first Polaroid camera had just been manufactured but every young skater in Canada just wanted a Barbara Ann Scott doll under their Christmas tree. The year was 1950, and from February 2 to 4, Canada's best figure skaters gathered at The Winter Club of St. Catharines to compete in the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.


The event marked the first and only time The Garden City in the Niagara region played host to the Canadian Championships. It was also the first time a new scoring system for school figures was used, which had been tested at the North American Championships the year prior. Previously scores were announced after each compulsory figure, but under this system no scores were released until after all skaters finished. The reason for this, explained referee Donald B. Cruikshank, was to eliminate "any possible disadvantage to the first skaters... and give judges a chance to get an over-all picture in their marking." Some skaters and coaches undoubtedly had their own opinions about the move to embrace Closed Marking, potentially viewing it as a step backward. Now that we have some background, let's take a look back at how things played out on the ice!

THE JUNIOR EVENTS

Peter Dunfield (left) and Peter Firstbrook (right). Photos courtesy Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives.

In the junior men's event, Toronto's Peter Firstbrook claimed the gold medal which had eluded him the year prior at the Canadians in Ottawa. Peter Dunfield finished second - winning his first of several medals at the Championships.

Dawn Steckley (left) and Erica Batchelor (right). Photos courtesy Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives.

Thirteen year old Barbara Gratton built upon an early lead in the school figures to win the junior women's event. Her older sister Elizabeth moved up from fourth to take the silver, while Dawn Steckley of Ottawa dropped off the podium entirely. Erica Batchelor, then skating out of Calgary, finished off the podium as well. Just three years later she would become the European Silver Medallist, representing the UK.

Top: Elizabeth and Barbara Gratton. Photo courtesy Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives. Bottom: Jane Kirby and Donald Tobin being presented with their trophies.

Jane Kirby and Donald Tobin of Ottawa won the junior pairs. Kirby was third in junior women's, while Tobin medalled in the senior men's event and all three dance events. In those days, it wasn't a rarity for competitors to skate in multiple events at the national level. It was the norm.

THE PAIRS AND ICE DANCE COMPETITIONS

When Toronto's Marlene Smith and Donald Gilchrist had won the senior pairs event the year prior in Ottawa, they had faced stiff opposition from two other teams. In St. Catharines, they were the only team entered. According to the CFSA's rules, they still had to skate 'to a standard' and earn three quarters of the possible total points in order to win the title. All five judges gave them a score of more than eighty percent. Smith and Gilchrist were engaged at the time of their win.

There were three separate dance events in 1950 - the Tenstep, Waltz and Silver Dance competition. The same five couples competed in the trio of contests, with Joy Forsyth and William de Nance Jr. of taking the Tenstep and Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden the Waltz. After all five couples skated the Waltz, Rocker Foxtrot, Paso Doble and Tenstep in Silver Dance, the judges thought several of the teams so close in ability that they required them to come back for a reskate. After the marks were tallied, Ottawa's Pierrette Paquin and Donald Tobin were declared the victors. Of mention were the two teams that finished fourth and fifth in both events. Oshawa's Geraldine Fenton would go on to become a three time World Medallist, while her partner Dick McLaughlin would later become the CFSA's President. June Hockley skated with Roger Wickson, the defending Canadian Champion in men's singles. Two months after the Canadians, the first CFSA Gold Dance tests were held in Toronto. Paquin and de Nance took turns judging and being judged.

THE MEN'S COMPETITION


Mary Rose Thacker and Roger Wickson. Photo courtesy Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives.

In the men's school figures, twenty-one year old Bill Lewis, a commerce student at the University Of Washington who hailed from New Westminster, British Columbia managed to defeat the defending Canadian Champion, twenty-two year old Roger Wickson, a student at the University Of British Columbia from Vancouver. Spectators were on the edge of their seat considering the possibility of an upset in the free skate. It wasn't to be. Wickson rebounded with a fine performance, and Lewis dropped to third behind Donald Tobin of Ottawa. It was the first time ever that two skaters from Western Canada had placed in the top three in the senior men's event at the Canadian Championships. Though Wickson and Lewis repeated their top three result in 1951, it would be almost three decades before two Western Canadian men would be on the senior podium together again.

THE WOMEN'S COMPETITION



Though she was only nineteen, Toronto's Suzanne Morrow had already won medals at the Winter Olympic Games, World, North American and Canadian Championships in pairs skating. After her partner Wally Distelmeyer's retirement in 1948, she had focused her attention solely on singles skating and won the 1949 Canadian women's title in Ottawa. Much like her predecessor Barbara Ann Scott, Morrow amassed a fifteen point lead in the school figures, making it next to impossible for her rivals to catch up - competent free skaters or not. Clad in a black sequined dress and tiara, she was the toast of St. Kitts with her performance set to the strains of Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán.

Marlene Smith, a tall blonde from Niagara Falls, wore a fuchsia dress and skated to a medley of music by Viennese composer Fritz Kreisler to take the silver. Her success was remarkable in that she was treated throughout the event for a particularly nasty case of influenza. The bronze went to seventeen year old Vevi Smith of Toronto, junior champion of Canada in 1947.

Left photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

Behind the scenes in St. Catharines, progress was being made. In her book "Figure Skating History: The Evolution Of Dance On Ice", Lynn Copley-Graves recalled, "The CFSA announced a competition to design new medals... [and] the professionals met with members of the American Skaters Guild and chose a representative to attend the Pro Skaters Guild meetings in Washington during the U.S. Championships." Following the competition, CFSA President Alfred H. Williams of Calgary announced that Canada would sponsor Morrow, Wickson, Smith and Gilchrist to compete at Worlds in London. He told a reporter, "This year's champions have proved they are of better quality than in previous championships. Some of them, especially Suzanne, are of word class, and I expect they will give some stiff opposition to strong opponents in the World Championships."


If you enjoyed today's blog and would like to learn a little more about Canadian figure skating in the 1950's and the skaters that were mentioned, now is a fabulous time to get yourself a copy of "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating". This fascinating reference book is available in hard cover, paperback and Kindle E-Book editions on Amazon. Click here to order the book today!

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