Behind The Scenes: Overcoming Roadblocks With The Jackson Haines Book

Researching Jackson Haines' story for my upcoming book has been a fascinating process but not one without its unique obstacles to overcome.

Jackson travelled extensively in Europe from 1864 until his death in 1875, so the very first thing I did was to create a spreadsheet with a timeline of his travels. I tracked his journey month by month, year by year through books, articles and advertisements in nineteenth century newspapers. He was in numerous countries so combing through articles for clues about where he planned to travel next was something that proved really helpful. Sifting through primary source material in different languages can often have its challenges but paying attention to geography can often be the key to find those missing puzzle pieces.

Photo courtesy Wiener Eislaufverein

Geography played a huge role in mapping out Jackson's time in America before he left for Europe. Once I found the addresses in New York City where he and his family lived, I popped them into a really neat GIS mapping tool called NYC & Then & Now. Not being from New York, this resource (coupled with walking times from Google Maps) really helped me get a sense of the neighbourhood he lived in and the distance between his homes and the places in the city he would have visited regularly. Another thing I found super helpful was searching newspaper archives for street addresses instead of business names.

Finding a manifest of passengers for the ship Jackson left America on was a roadblock I encountered quite early in my research. Records of immigration into the United States in the 1860's are actually quite robust but when you go that far back, finding passenger lists of emigration out of the country can get quite difficult, especially when the passengers didn't return. Through my research I found the name of the ship, the date and port he left from, but I couldn't find a passenger manifest anywhere. I finally found what I was looking digging in newspaper archives: one list of passengers leaving the United States on the correct ship and date and a matching record of passengers arriving in Europe. 

Researching Jackson's genealogy has perhaps been the most important aspect of the research for the book. It has also arguably been the most challenging. If you think about your own family's genealogy, you would probably start with your parents and work backwards. In Jackson's case, you can't really do that. He died in 1875 and none of his children had children of their own. Through my own research and conversations with two descendants from his mother's line, I was able to put together a pretty extensive family tree but two records proved absolutely elusive. 

The first was Jackson's sister Hannah Maria. Based on the 1870 United States Census, her marriage notice and a record of her husband's second marriage, I was able to narrow down my research to a seven-year time frame where she either likely died or remarried but I couldn't find anything at all on Ancestry, Familysearch or in newspaper archives. The mystery was finally solved when I reached out to a genealogist in New York who was able to track down a short death notice through Genealogy Bank with a date of death. This led me back to the newspaper archives in the community where she died. I searched for her married and maiden name around her death date and nothing came up. When I went through the index and scanned copies around her death date, I found what I was looking for: a more detailed death notice. Both her maiden and married name were mentioned, but they had been misspelled. It was a definite match though.

Misspelling proved to be the exact same roadblock when it came to tracking down the death certificate for Jackson's wife. I searched her first name and married name with a year someone had put in a family tree on Ancestry and got nowhere. I finally tracked down a record with the same death date and her maiden name listed as the middle name. The first name was completely wrong and her married name was badly misspelled. With a hunch I'd found the correct record, I ordered a copy from the New York City Municipal Archives. Lo and behold, the record I received was in fact the elusive record I was looking for. Whoever had transcribed it had just misread the handwriting. This record provided key clues which led me to even more information about Jackson's wife which will only make the book more interesting.

The will of Jackson's grandfather and namesake

If you found this interesting, stay tuned to the blog over the coming months. I will be sharing more stories about the process behind the research for this book, which I honestly can't wait for you all to read! 

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

The Finnish System

At the 1955 ISU Congress in Lausanne, Switzerland, the powers that be in figure skating approved a trial of a new judging system, informally called The Finnish System after its creator Walter Jakobsson, at the 1956 European Championships in Paris. It had been first tested at an international junior competition in Switzerland in 1955.

An oversight led to the omission of the trial of The Finnish System in the announcement for the 1956 European Championships in Paris, so it was decided to postpone its trial to the 1957 European Championships in Vienna. Jakob Biedermann, a Swiss attorney who was serving as the ISU's Chairman of the Figure Skating Committee, was furious about the decision. He believed that if it was voted to try it in Paris, it should have been tried. He ended up resigning over it.

At the time, gymnastics and diving used a judging system where the highest and lowest marks were thrown out. The Finnish System also tried to address judges who deviated from the pack for various reasons (national bias, difference of opinion, incompetence, etc.) but it varied somewhat. The marks of the first skater were averaged to determine a standard - let's say 3.8 as an example - and then the marks of the judges whose marks deviated the most from that standard, both high and low, were thrown out.

The amount of marks that were 'thrown out' depended on the number of judges and it was argued that if a judge wanted their marks to 'stay in', all the had to do was stick as close to the standard as possible each time for them to be counted. So, if Susie Salchow got a bunch of 5.0's, an unscrupulous judge merely had to look over their shoulder at what their neighbour was doing and give them a 5.0 too. 

If three judges gave marks of 5.9 to an outstanding skater and one gave them a 4.1, it wouldn't just be the judge who gave the 4.1 who would be eliminated - the three judges who gave 5.9's could be sent packing too. As a high-profile case involving corrupt Austrian judges was major news in the skating world at the time, the skating community had legitimate concerns that The Finnish System, like the existing one, could be abused by less than ethical judges.

Marika Kilius and Franz Ningel at the 1957 European Championships. Video courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd.

At the 1957 European Championships in Vienna, The Finnish System was tried in the singles and pairs events, with the 6.0 system used in the ice dance event. Czechoslovakians Věra Suchánková and Zdeněk Doležal pulled off a surprise win in pairs. France's Alain Giletti won the men's title for the third straight year, despite placing only fourth in the free skate. In her home city, Hanna Eigel reclaimed the title she'd first won in Budapest in 1955. However, she wasn't even in the top four in the free skate. Many spectators, not understanding the weight of the school figure and blamed the new Finnish System for the best free skaters not winning. However misplaced this particular ire was, there were far more measured criticisms of The Finnish System that followed.

H. Leslie White published his "Opinion of the 'Finnish' System" in the May 1957 issue of "Skating World" magazine. It provoked a healthy discussion about the pro's and con's of the ISU's new baby, a letter of objection from Walter Jakobsson and a show of support for White from Cyril Beastall, the editor of "Skating World". I'm sharing both pieces for you below in their entirety.

Photo courtesy "Skating World" magazine

Photo courtesy "Skating World" magazine

Ultimately, the ISU decided at its 1957 Congress in Salzburg to reject both The Finnish System and a British proposal for an alternative to it. Both systems, ISU officials believed, simply did not have enough of an impact on the overall results of competitions to be viable. Rather than come up with an alternative, the 6.0 system remained and a renewed focus was placed on weeding out 'bad judges'. We all know how well that went.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Photographers are really figure skating's unsung heroes. They take hundreds of pictures just to get that perfect shot. They arrive at a rink long before a competition starts and leave long after the final skater finds out if they got a Season's Best score or not in the Kiss and Cry. What you may not know is that in a not so roundabout way, the world of skating photography may not have been what it is today without the pioneering efforts of family members of the man you'll be reading about in my next book... Jackson Haines.

One of Eugene S.M. Haines' photographs of the construction of the New Yok State Capitol building. Photo courtesy New York State Archives.

Jackson's older brother Eugene was in the photography business in Albany for over twenty years and during the Edwardian era was considered the New York's state photographer. He took official pictures of the New York State Capitol building in Albany from the very first stages of its construction in 1867 to its completion in 1899. Some of Eugene's photographs can be found in the New York State Archives.

Jackson Haines' nephew John

Jackson's nephew John H.J. Haines was an inventor who spent over a decade making innovations in the field of vacuum tube lighting - which produced light without heat. It was a concept first experimented with by the likes of Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. John held patents for numerous inventions, including electric arc lamps, several phonographs... and an ice-making machine. Two of Jackson's other nephews, John Gardiner and Victor Flammang, worked for many years in the photography supplies business.

Photo courtesy United States Patent and Trademark Office

Jackson's brother-in-law Mathias Flammang was also a pioneer in photographic experiments. He held a patent for a type of optical camera as well as an improvement in camera design - a device which held two dry plates in one holder.

Mathias Flammang's Reversable Back Camera with bellows, manufatured by the American Optical Co.

Speaking of photography... you know the old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words?" Well, writing is kind of my thing so I'd rather have the thousand words personally. I do know a lot of you absolutely love those visuals though and that's something you'll absolutely finding in this book. There will be some wonderful photographs, engravings and etchings of Jackson... including some things I can promise that you haven't seen before.

Etching of Jackson Haines. Photo courtesy "Die Kunst Des Schlittschuhlaufens", Franz Calistus, 1890.

Keep an eye on the blog over the coming months... I'll be sharing some more little interesting side-stories like these which you won't find in the Jackson Haines book, as well as a little bit about the research process that is going into it.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

The 1971 World Figure Skating Championships

In 1968, the ISU announced that the 1971 World Figure Skating Championships would be held in Lyon, France. The winning bid was a huge disappointment for the CFSA, who had hoped to host that year's World Championships in Calgary. However, it was a huge boost to the morale of the people of Lyon. The success of the Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble had somewhat obscured the city's failed bid to host the 1968 Summer Olympic Games.

One of the buildings constructed in conjunction with that failed bid - at a great cost - was the Patinoire Cours Charlemagne. It would finally serve a purpose... as a practice skating rink. This pleased Jacques Favart, who served as both the ISU and FFSG President at the time Lyon's successful bid was announced. The main venue, the Palais des Sports, seated ten thousand spectators. 

When skaters, coaches and officials arrived in Lyon, they were delighted by an unseasonable warm snap in the weather, a chartered bus service between the hotels and rinks and enthusiastic French organizers and spectators. 

Poster for the event designed by René Déjean

One of the most interesting 'behind the scenes' footnotes of the 1971 World Championships involved a Quebec man named Robert Bonin. When the CFSA developed the Quebec section, he had become its first Chairman and in 1971, he was in his final year of office. Bonin travelled to Lyon and set up meetings with Antoine Faure of the FFSG in hopes - he said - of developing "an exchange between ourselves and France, so that either skaters or professionals would crisscross the ocean and... benefit." John McKay, who was the CFSA Vice-President at the time, was one of many who believed that Bonin had ulterior motives for the trip. He later asserted that Bonin "wanted to start a Quebec federation. He went to France to the World Championships in 1971 with the idea of negotiating with the French as a representative of Quebec. It was more than a simple exchange." Bonin's move to break away from the CFSA ultimately failed and the 'exchange program' never happened.

With Tim Wood and Gaby Seyfert not returning to defend their World titles, two of the four gold medals in Lyon were ripe for the picking. With over twenty entries in both singles events, healthy competition was certainly expected. Many expected Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov to defend their pairs title but the competition that defending ice dance champions Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexander Gorshkov faced was formidable. Let's take a look back at how things played out in Lyon in 1971!


Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov, Lyudmila Smirnova and Andrei Suraikin and JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley on the podium

More than a few mâchoires - that's French for jaws - were on the floor when defending World Champions Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov made several uncharacteristic errors in their compulsory short program. Surprisingly, they were still awarded marks for high enough for second place behind their Soviet teammates Lyudmila Smirnova and Andrei Suraikin.

Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov. Video courtesy International Skating Union.

A capacity crowd of ten thousand packed the Palais des Sports for the pairs free skate. Rodnina and Ulanov managed to come from behind and defend their title with a near-flawless performance, defeating their teammates Smirnova and Suraikin in a seven-two split of the judging panel.

Melissa and Mark Militano. Video courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd.

Americans JoJo Starbuck and Ken Shelley were crowd favourites, earning a standing ovation for their exciting free skating performance. The French crowd booed their low marks but they won the bronze medal, becoming the first North American team since Cynthia and Ron Kauffman to infiltrate the Eastern Bloc domination of international pairs skating. Their teammates, Melissa and Mark Militano and Barbara Brown and Douglas Berndt, placed sixth and eleventh.

Sandra and Val Bezic. Video courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd.

Canada's lone entry, Sandra and Val Bezic, placed ninth in their second trip to the World Championships. Sandra recalled the Lyon Worlds in 1971 thusly: "A fabulous Worlds with all the French touches. We loved the stadium. The seats went straight up coliseum style so the audience felt so close, yet the surface was huge with no boards - only flower pots.  The ice was supposedly made with distilled water and it was the fastest ice we'd ever skated on - jumps and toe lifts popped up so easily. The French audience was packed and loud – fabulous. In the pairs event, they fell in love with JoJo Starbuck... whenever she skated the guys in the audience would howl 'JOOOOO JOOOOO!' like a mating call! We skated well and cracked the top ten. I roomed with Louise Soper (gorgeous no matter what time of day!) at the Hotel Terminus. We had a fireplace in our room. The hotel had fabulous gourmet cuisine - and a fabulous bar that served the best croque monsieurs. I remember sitting at the bar counter one day with my competitor, Willy Bietak. After our event I hung out with Vera Wang - Patrick Péra's girlfriend at the time - and others, at the American's hotel. Teams were in separate hotels scattered around the city. Cathy Lee Irwin taught me how to put on make-up for the banquet... techniques I use to this day! Toller and Val roomed together and I roamed the streets with Toller going through antique shops."


Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexander Gorshkov, Angelika and Erich Buck and Judy Schwomeyer and James Sladky on the podium. Photo courtesy Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon.

The practice sessions in Lyon were jam packed with ice dance fans, eager to watch all twenty teams choctaw their way through the challenging compulsories that lied ahead. Though France's Anne-Claude Wolfers and Roland Mars weren't major contenders, they received enthusiastic applause from the French crowd at every turn.

Photo courtesy Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon

The three compulsory dances skated were the Viennese Waltz, Paso Doble and Tango. Couples chose their own rhythm for the OSP and Americans Judy Schwomeyer and James Sladky made a particular impression in this phase of the event with their creation, the Yankee Polka. They received first place ordinals from the American, British and Canadian judges for their efforts. However, a four judge Eastern Bloc placed Soviets Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexander Gorshkov first. The West German judge voted for siblings Angelika and Erich Buck and the French judge tied the Buck's and Schwomeyer and Sladky. Though the top two teams were only separated by half a point, the Soviets managed to squeak out a narrow lead over the Americans after the compulsories and OSP.

Lyudmila Pakhomova and Aleksandr Gorshkov. Video courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd.

Pakhomova and Gorshkov ditched the Tango and Paso Doble free dance that had won them the European title in Zürich and wowed the French crowd with a brand new program set to Russian music. Their program contrasted greatly with the Buck's free dance to selections from "Manuel and The Music of the Mountains" and "Swiss Polka" by Bert Kaempfert. Pakhomova pulled her partner along to receive marks ranging from 5.6 to 5.9. French judge Lysiane Lauret switched alliances and voted with the Eastern Bloc for Pakhomova and Gorshkov. 

Lyudmila Pakhomova and Aleksandr Gorshkov. Photo courtesy Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon.

The Buck's managed to move past Schwomeyer and Sladky and claim the silver because of the fact the fact they had more second place ordinals, even though the Americans had three first places and the West Germans only had one. After receiving his bronze medal, James Sladky told an Associated Press reporter, "We knew the East Europeans would vote together when we came here. The first three pairs were almost even, any one of them could win on a given day. If we had skated a little better, maybe we could have had the French vote."

Top: Judy Schwomeyer and Jim Sladky. Bottom: Angelika and Erich Buck. Photos courtesy Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon.

Sue and Roy Bradshaw, students of Joan Slater, skated superbly to "Oye Negra", "Hernando's Hideaway", "S'Agapo" and "Millionaire's Hoedown" but were unable to crack the top three. All of the remaining positions in the top ten were occupied by teams from the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States, with Canada's lone entry, Louise (Lind) and Barry Soper, placing eleventh.


Julie Lynn Holmes, Trixi Schuba and Karen Magnussen on the medal podium in Lyon. Bottom photo courtesy "Ice & Roller Skate" magazine.

At the 1969 and 1970 World Championships, Gaby Seyfert had finished second to Austria's Trixi Schuba but won the free skate and the overall title. Schuba, a virtuoso in school figures, again amassed a monstrous lead in the first phase of the competition. The two strongest free skaters, Canadian Karen Magnussen and American Janet Lynn, sat in fourth and fifth place after the figures, behind Julie Lynn Holmes and Rita Trapanese. An especially poor showing in the paragraph double three played a big part in Lynn's result. That margin all but sealed the deal for Schuba to succeed Seyfert as World Champion long before the first of the twenty-two competitors took the ice to perform their free skate.

East Germany's Sonja Morgenstern set a high bar, landing a rare triple Salchow in her free skating performance. However, a ninth place finish in the figures kept her out of the running for a medal. She ended the competition in sixth place.

Trixi Schuba. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

A report that appeared in "Skating" magazine following the competition recalled the women's free skating performances thusly: "Often underrated for her free skating, [Schuba's] main problem continues to be her appearance, although her recent efforts toward improvement in costume and hair style have been worthwile. Miss Schuba produces a solid program with a good sense of musical feeling, although the total effect is rather uninspiring. Executing two clean double Lutzes, she then slipped on a double loop, but recovered to perform a successful Axel and double flip... Miss [Julie Lynn] Holmes evidenced some problems with her Axels, slipping on the first double and omitting the second entirely. Her inside Axel also had a slight slip, and on yet another Axel toward the end of her program, she almost fell... Some of her freedom of presentation seemed at least temporarily lost. [Magnussen's] two reverse spread eagles into an Axel and a double loop went off beautifully. Known for her consistency, Karen made no terribly obvious errors other than a slip on a double Lutz and a wild free leg on a double Axel. Her other double Axel was excellently performed as were later moves of an Ina Bauer into a spin and an Ina Bauer into a sit spin... The audience had almost as much 'fun' as [Janet] Lynn did, responding in particular to her combination of four consecutive jumps followed by elaborate footwork... Her smooth, exquisite style was in full bloom this spring. Janet's efforts were rewarded by two perfect 6.0's, which left her with high hopes for a medal." Lynn opted to omit a planned triple toe-loop in favour of a double Lutz.

Janet Lynn

Though Janet Lynn won the free skate in Lyon, all but Soviet judge Nonna Nestegina (who placed Karen Magnussen first) gave their overall first place ordinals to Schuba, who was only seventh in the free skate. Holmes, fifth in the free skate, held on to claim the silver on the strength of her showing in the figures. Magnussen outranked Lynn for the bronze with a majority of first and second place ordinals, while Trapanese settled for fifth place. Canada's other two entries, Diane Hall and Ruth Hutchinson, finished sixteenth and nineteenth. 

Though Janet Lynn clearly had the performance of the night by a mile, the media hoopla that followed her loss in Lyon somewhat tarnished the event for all of the top four finishers. Following the competition, Associated Press reporter  Harvey Hudson claimed, "Boos and whistles of derision broke out from the crowd when Miss Schuba went to the victory stand. The same voices of disapproval broke out again while all three medal winners were in the center of the ice. When Miss Lynn appeared at rinkside a bedlam of cheering broke out and the crowd chanted 'Lynn, Lynn, Lynn.' Miss Schuba was disheartened by the display." Interrogated by Hudson following her loss, Schuba shrugged and aptly said, "I didn't get any special benefit from the rules. The rules weren't made for me."

Karen Magnussen, Janet Lynn and Trixi Schuba in Lyon. Photo courtesy "Peace And Love" by Janet Lynn.

Canadian writers viewed the situation following Lynn's loss in Janet Lyon a little differently. In his book "The Golden Age Of Canadian Figure Skating" David Young asserted, "The producers of ABC television twisted the facts to suit their own purposes, and perpetrated a fraud on the American viewers. As the crowd applauded for the three medallists, the television camera focused on another unauthorized podium where Janet Lynn, who had finished fourth, was standing. The announcer explained that Janet had completely won the hearts of the French audience, and that all the applause was for her. Trixi, in what should have been the moment of her greatest triumph after years of hard and heart-breaking work, had to be consoled instead by the two other winners. It was a blatant example of the media moulding an event to suit the image which suited it best, and a great many people were extremely upset by the incident, including the U.S. team manager Charles DeMore, who later apologized for the whole thing although he had nothing to do with it." In her book "Peace And Love", Janet Lynn recalled that the whole situation in Lyon was "very embarrassing."

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

The evening after the women's free skate, there were two separate victory parties going on. Karen Magnussen went across the hall to the room where the Austrians were, grabbed Trixi Schuba by the hand and brought her in to the Canadian room. She announced, "Now I'd like you all to applaud the real world champion."


Ondrej Nepela, Sergei Chetverukhin and Patrick Péra on the men's podium

Patrick Péra was France's best hope for a gold medal at the 1971 World Championships in Lyon. An Olympic, World and European Medallist, Péra was hyped significantly by the French press prior to the competition despite finishing off the podium at the previous year's World Championships in Ljubljana and missing the European Championships in Zürich with a slashed foot.

Six of the nine judges placed reigning Olympic Gold Medallist and World Champion Ondrej Nepela first in the compulsories. However, less than a point and only two ordinal placings separated the two men. With several exciting free skaters set to enter the mix in the second phase of the competition, the battle was far from over.

Top: Patrick Péra and girlfriend Vera Wang. Bottom: Ondrej Nepela, Sergei Chetverukhin and Patrick Péra on the men's podium.

As in the pairs event, America's Ken Shelley was a popular audience favourite. Many felt that he gave one of 'the performances of the night' in Lyon but was lowballed by the judges. He finished a disappointing eighth overall, but was fifth in the free skate.

Ken Shelley. Video courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd.

A report that appeared in "Skating" magazine following the competition recalled some of the other men's free skating performances thusly: "Of course, since the championship was hosted by France, there was a great deal of support for and speculation about Péra. There was little doubt that his foot injury suffered prior to Europeans, took its toll on needed practice time, and as such, his stamina was low in free skating. He fell hard on his triple Salchow and slipped on a double Axel; however later on in his program he recouped with three solid butterfly jumps... Although frequently criticized for lack of expression, Nepela unquestionably 'gets the job done, both from the standpoint of content and technicality in jumps. His two triple jumps were performed early in the program, a clean Salchow and toe-loop. Confidently executed, his program was polished, sure-footed and packed with a variety of jumps, yet lacking in originality and personality of style to which the spectator can respond. Nepela was worth of his technical marks whic were mostly 5.9's. Despite a slip on an Axel, [Sergei Chetverukhin's] performance seemed strong, although a bit on the slow side. His real strength lies in his pleasing style, good looks and musicality... Jan Hoffmann presented a most difficult, triple jump-studded program, but must develop a great deal of maturity before he will be able to become a true champion... John Misha Petkevich was not up to his usual standard of excellence in free skating. Early in his program he did a single Lutz instead of a planned double Lutz, but recovered with style by replacing a subsequently planned jump with the missing double Lutz. However, with a program such as his, lacking in footwork and dotted with empty moments, omission of key jumps is most evident... Kudos must also be accorded to Canadian Toller Cranston who was well received by the crowd. A truly artistic skater, Toller packs his program with all that he can, as well as interpreting his music with style and grace."

Ondrej Nepela. Video courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd.

Though the French and American judges opted for Patrick Péra, Ondrej Nepela won both the free skate and overall title by a wide margin. Only eighth in the free skate and tied in ordinal placings with Jan Hoffmann, Sergei Chetverukhin held on to win the bronze on his strength in the figures and a majority of third place ordinals. 

Ondrej Nepela. Photo courtesy Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon.

John 'Misha' Petkevich of Great Falls, Montana settled for fifth, though the American judge had him second. Chetverukhin's medal was the first at Worlds for a Soviet man, though Nikolay Panin-Kolomenkin had medalled representing Russia in 1903.

Toller Cranston in 1971. Photo courtesy Toronto Public Library, from Toronto Star Photographic Archive. Reproduced for educational purposes under license permission.

Toller Cranston, hampered by a disappointing finish in the figures, was only able to move up eleventh. Recalling the event in his book "Zero Tollerance", Cranston said, "I placed fifteenth in the figures, near the bottom of the barrel, below all the people I had beaten weeks earlier. I told Ellen [Burka], 'I just won't be able to skate the long program. I'm too ashamed.' Nevertheless, when the music started, my mind said no but my legs said yes, I skated a dazzling long program and got high marks right off the top, the third skater out. I took sixth place in the free skating but should have won it. Ellen and I thought we'd forget about skating, go to Morocco, and smoke hashish, but reason prevailed."

John Curry. Video courtesy Frazer Ormondroyd.

Three places behind him, skating in his first World Championships, was John Curry. It wasn't the World debut that the young Briton wanted. He had spent the weeks preceding the event training in Davos, spending more time on the ski hills than on patch sessions. By the time he arrived in Lyon, he wasn't even speaking to his coach Arnold Gerschwiler. He placed an unlucky thirteenth in both the figures and free skate and one judge had him as low as sixteenth overall. After his disappointing free skate, he left the ice by a side-entrance to avoid his coach. A few weeks after returning to England, he and Gerschwiler parted ways.

Photo courtesy Canada's Sports Hall Of Fame. Used with permission.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

Coming In 2023!

Some exciting news to share with all of you! While I will continue to be sharing new blogs on Skate Guard each week, my main focus this year is the development of a fourth book, which will be released in late 2023. It will be an in-depth biography of Jackson Haines. 

As many of you know, much has been written about this fascinating figure skating pioneer over the years. Some of it is correct; a lot of it is really not. The good news is that the facts about Jackson Haines' life and career are far more interesting than the myth.

My strategy for writing this book has been to pretty much completely disregard everything that has been written about him in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The research for this book has relied almost completely on nineteenth century primary sources... and let me tell you, some of the things I have managed to track down are truly remarkable. 

You might recall that I did an in-depth piece on him several years ago. For the time being, that is not available. It will be back online in some revised form as supplementary material to the book once it is released.

I will be sharing updates on this project periodically over the coming months and I sincerely could not be more excited for you to read the finished book later this year!

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

Camel Spins In Cairo: A Look At Egypt's Unique Skating History

"Then away - away over the glassy surface, swift as an arrow from the bow, bending, swaying, now right, now left, as the stream meandered in and out, till at length [he] paused, momentarily out of breath, and, by way of variety, began cutting hieroglyphic eights, threes, noughts, in the centre of the ice." - Anonymous, "The London Journal and Weekly Record Of Literature, Science And Art", December 24, 1881

Egypt is known around the world for its rich and fascinating history. The Pyramids of Giza, Luxor's Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings have captured the imaginations of millions around the world. Despite being home to the camel, the animal one of the sport's iconic spins shares a name with, the land of sand's unique skating history is one that has not been really explored. Through research and some correspondence with Mona L. Russell, Associate Professor in the Department of History at East Carolina University, I've dug up a little Egyptian skating history you might find quite interesting.

The entrance to the Luna Park roller skating rink

Egypt's skating history traces back to the years leading up to the British occupation of the country in 1882. In 1877, a roller skating rink opened in Cairo on the former site of a Circus, but it only lasted for two years before going bankrupt and being converted to a royal stable. Interest in roller skating waned for a time, but was revived in the Edwardian era when an open-air roller rink was installed in the city's  Asbakiya Gardens. Around 1910, one of Africa's first amusement parks was constructed in Heliopolis. The park had a merry go-round, roller coaster, mechanical rides, Skeleton House, scenic railway, restaurants... and a roller rink. A visitor from Australia recalled that on each side of the 'Central Skating Club' was an open-air restaurant and "under leafy shade; the writing tables and reading quarters extended into a reading ardor." Afternoon tea was served at this roller rink, which was open until seven at night every day of the week. Elsie Donagan and Earl Reynolds, grandparents of Eddie LeMaire (a U.S. Champion in junior men's and pairs and one of the victims of the 1961 Sabena Crash) gave an exhibition at this rink circa 1913. By 1915, the Luna Park roller rink had been converted into a makeshift ANZAC overflow hospital with five hundred beds for injured soldiers during The Great War.

Interest in roller skating continued in Egypt through the second World War. Don Caspersen, a Sargeant with the United States Army, wrote to "Skating" magazine in 1943 and shared, "There are no ice rinks in Egypt although they have roller rinks. [I] showed the skaters how to do our ice dance steps on rollers and a few months later [I] visited Alexandria and found a few of the boys and girls were doing them. [I] asked where they learned the steps and was told that a skater from Cairo had been there one afternoon and taught them the Tenstep. At this rate, they'll soon be skating all through Egypt."

Photo courtesy "The Skater" magazine

Egyptians had their first exposure to figure skating in 1950, when a Scandinavian troupe with a portable ice rink travelled from Copenhagen to Egypt to give a series of shows. The Manhattan Ice Show featured an international cast, including Melitta Brunner of Austria, Elvire Collin and Fernand Leemans of Belgium and German ice comedians Baddy and Buddy. Buddy was Bernd Elias, the cousin of Anne Frank. Ten years later, Holiday on Ice visited the country, performing shows in both Cairo and Alexandria. 

Bernd Elias and Otto Rehorek, a.k.a. Buddy and Baddy

On July 1, 1966, the country's first ice rink opened in Cairo. Alice Peters, the 1957 Hungarian Champion in ice dance with Zoltán Tölgyesi, was hired to teach at the rink. She recalled, "I trained a group of beginners - who had never even seen skating before - for an ice show to be staged in that city. Within a few months thirty members of this group, who ranged in age from sixteen to twenty-eight, were prepared to give a two-hour performance... After two weeks, those who had the ground training showed a technical level of four to five years of figure skating training. Some skaters could perform figures up to fourth-test level; others did Axels and split jumps. Dances were learned despite the small size of the rink. Hundreds of visitors who watched rehearsals could not believe what they saw. In March, 1967, the ice rink was closed prior to being moved to its permanent location. Unfortunately, the Arab-Israeli conflict prevented the move, and the ice show was abandoned."

The entrance to The Nile Skating, the tent ice rink near the Great Pyramids Of Giza. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

As War and civil unrest raged in the years that followed under the reign of Anwar el-Sadat, further efforts to develop figure skating in the country were put on the back burner. Disney on Ice visited with its "Aladdin" tour, but it wasn't until 1997, during the Presidency of Hosni Mubarak, that another ice  semi-permanent rink was established in Egypt. Mike Rzechula, the chief technology officer of an American company called Ice Rink Supply installed a rink in an old circus tent in the middle of the desert, just five miles from the pyramids. Within a year, Egypt had two more rinks - one in the basement of the Maadi Family Land play complex in a suburb of Cairo and another at Marina El Alamein, a seaside resort near Alexandria. 

The entrance to Maadi Family Land. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

The novelty of these rinks drew in hundreds of customers, and two Polish skaters were employed to give lessons at the Maadi rink. The rinks were especially busy on Friday nights from nine o'clock until midnight. One of the instructors at the Maadi rink told a reporter from "L'Orient Le Jour" that "Some, especially the younger ones, already manage to embark on sometimes complicated figures [but] an hour of skating, between 15 and 25 EGP (about 3 to 9 USD), is quite expensive and many just come to watch." Considering the average Egyptian made about the equivalent of two hundred and fifty dollars a month at the time, the cost of skating was extremely prohibitive to many.

Within a few short years, Cairo alone had no less than five public ice rinks, but the ice conditions were such that only the Maadi rink - called Magic on Ice - was suitable for serious skating. It was there an American adult skater living in Egypt named Don Miller formed a skating club called the Cairo International Skaters in 2001. The group consisted of expats from America, Canada, Australia and Holland and a handful of English-speaking Egyptians. The skaters encountered a number of unique challenges. Miller was the only one who knew how to sharpen skates and he did so with a handheld sharpener. In a 2003 article in "Skating" magazine, he remarked, "It's hard to say there is progress. But the rink coach, Mohamed Shaban, is picking up a lot. He has passed it on to a lot of kids he teaches, and he works there ten hours each day. The average one hundred degrees on Cairo's summer day should drive people into the cool ice rinks, but people still work and kids still have limited funds."

By 2013, Egypt had rinks in Maadi, Helwan and at two shopping malls in Cairo. An ice rink in Sharm-el-Sheikh followed. In 2017, Dr. Helga Guirgis and Major General Ahmed Nasser formed Ice Skate Egypt, a national governing body for figure skating in the country. Under the Sports For All Federation and Dr. Emad El-Bannany, the organization was recognized by the Egyptian Ministry of Youth And Sports and the Egyptian Olympic Committee. Guided by American professionals, talented young skaters competed in country's first National Championships were held in July of 2019 in Cairo. 

In 2022, Hannah Dabees made history as the first skater to represent Egypt on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit. Though the country faces unique challenges, it may not be too long before we see a competitor from the country at a senior ISU Championship. 

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

The 1941 Canadian Figure Skating Championships

F.M. Raphael, the President of the Montreal Winter Club, presenting Mary Rose Thacker with the Devonshire Cup in 1941. Photo courtesy University Of Manitoba Special Collections.

The U.S. Ambassador to Japan had just reported a grim rumour to Washington about a planned surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Overseas in Europe, World War II raged on with The Battle of Tobruk, the first offensive of the Western Desert Force in Italy. Thousands of Canadians were either serving in the military or engaged in war work, but in the War's 'early years' conscription for overseas service wasn't yet mandatory, so figure skating wasn't just yet facing a significant shortage of men. The year was 1941, and as Artie Shaw's Frenesi blared on radios, the best figure skaters in Canada carefully packed their skates and hand-sewn costumes into suitcases and trucks and boarded trains bound for Montreal.

The 1941 Canadian Figure Skating Championships (then referred to as the Dominion Championships) were held on January 31 and February 1, 1941 at the Montreal Winter Club's rink on Rue Drummond, which had been the site of the first World Championships held in Canada nine years prior. The two-day event played to packed galleries from nine in the morning until after midnight each day, but received very little press coverage in Quebec, perhaps owing to the fact only one skater from the province won a gold medal. Winnipeg sportswriter Herb Manning noted that one of the problems figure skating faced was that it was often relegated to the society section of newspapers instead of being covered "under the stern hand of the sports editor." Though coverage of the event was sparse, there are some interesting stories that came out of the 1941 Canadian Championships worth looking at. Let's hop in the time machine and take a look back!


Sheila Reid and Fred Drewery. Photo courtesy University Of Manitoba Special Collections.

With top marks for content and performance, Toronto's Margaret Wilson and Peter Killam won the junior pairs event over Stratford's Floraine Ducharme and Wally Distelmeyer. One of the Toronto judges dared place the fourth place team from Winnipeg, Sheila Reid and Fred Drewery, first. This would have been quite a big deal at the time, as Eastern judges often voted along club lines and rarely went 'out on a limb' for Western skaters. In a particularly close contest, Toronto's Michael Kirby bested Dwight Parkinson of Montreal in the junior men's event.

An unlucky thirteen competitors entered the junior women's event and one particularly unlucky one was sidelined after the school figures. During the warm-up for the free skate, Ottawa's Beryl Goodman had a bad collision with Toronto's Peggy Lam. Lam was carried off the ice unconscious and on the advice of a doctor that was present withdrew. To the delight of her home club, Montreal's Patricia Gault was the winner. A student of Albert Enders, Gault was competing in her first Canadians. She received four first place ordinals and one fifth to runner-up Shirley Ann Halsted of Toronto's first, two seconds, one fifth and one sixth. The bronze went to future Canadian Champion Marilyn Ruth Take.


Mary Rose Thacker, Ralph McCreath and Eleanor O'Meara. Photo courtesy Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

For the fourth year in a row, a four from Toronto (Tasie McCarthy, Virginia Wilson, Donald Gilchrist and Michael Kirby) took top honours in the fours event. In the Waltz contest, Helen Malcolm and Joe Geisler defeated Norah McCarthy and Sandy McKechnie, but in the Tenstep McCarthy and McKechnie finished first, defeating perennial Canadian women's and pairs champion Constance Wilson Samuel, who was paired with Gordon Jeffrey. McCarthy and McKechnie were also the runners-up in the pairs event behind Eleanor O'Meara and Ralph McCreath. It was McCreath's sixth consecutive pairs win at Canadians, and he had won the previous year with McCarthy.


Ralph McCreath wracked up a massive lead in the senior men's school figures. He delivered an athletic free skating performance in the final phase of the event to defeat Donald Gilchrist and Jack Vigeon. The trio made history, as it was the first sweep of all three medals in the senior men's event at Canadians by members of the Toronto Skating Club.

Mary Rose Thacker. Photo courtesy Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

The senior women's event was truly exciting. You had Norah McCarthy (the defending Champion), Mary Rose Thacker (the winner in 1939 who'd lost by one judge the year before) and Barbara Ann Scott (a very promising young skater who'd won the junior title the year before). Speculation over who would come out on top abated quickly when Thacker racked up a forty-four point lead over McCarthy in the figures. She won the free skating too, with eighteen more points than Scott and almost twenty nine more points than McCarthy. When the scores from both phases of the events were tabulated, the Winnipeg skater was unanimously first, with McCarthy second overall and Scott third. "Montreal Star" sportswriter Myrtle Cook noted, "Many times during the markings the august gallery so far forgot itself as to 'boo' heartily. The Bronx cheer was obviously directed at one Ottawa judge who was invariably below his colleagues in the markings."

Following the competition in Montreal, skaters boarded a train bound for Philadelphia, the site of that year's North American Championships, where for the first time since 1933 Canadians claimed the men's, women's and pairs titles.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating. Over ten years, the blog has featured over a thousand free articles covering all aspects of the sport's history, as well as four compelling in-depth features. To read the latest articles, follow the blog on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube. If you enjoy Skate Guard, please show your support for this archive by ordering a copy of the figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating":

Skating's Shirley Temple: The Hazel Franklin Story

Photo courtesy University Of Washington, Special Collections. Used with permission.

The daughter of John and Catherine 'Peggy' Franklin, Hazel Mary Franklin was born on New Year's Eve, 1924. She grew up in a suburb of Bournemouth, England with her younger brothers Michael and Peter. Her father was a music teacher and stock broker; her mother a classical pianist. Hazel first took up skating at the Westover Ice Rink, a hub for some of Great Britain's earliest ice pantomimes of note. Her first teacher was a musician named Irwin Pennock. She was 'discovered' by Sonja Henie's coach Howard Nicholson in 1934, when she was nine years old.

Right photo courtesy National Portrait Gallery

Hazel was sent to London to train with Mr. Nick, where she passed the National Skating Association's bronze and silver tests. At that point in time, Cecilia Colledge and Megan Taylor were considered England's top two female skaters, but quite a bit of fuss was made about Hazel being 'the next big thing'. Though much was later made in the press of the fact that she could have been the next Sonja Henie had the War not intervened, her only major competitive appearance was in the British Junior Championships - where she placed seventh. She turned professional as a young girl at the suggestion of her coach, who had more than an inkling of her star potential. In her first year as a professional skater, she gave a command performance before the Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden and appeared in the popular ice revue "St. Moritz" at the London Coliseum.

The following year, Hazel and her family made the first of several Transatlantic voyages on the Queen Mary to America. If only she could get screen tested, they were told, she'd have her name up in lights just like Sonja Henie. That's not exactly how things played out... but Hazel did turn a lot of heads in the United States. A report of her first appearance in the Skating Club of New York's carnival at the Ice Club atop Madison Square Garden said, "Wearing a picturesque Scotch plaid pleated outfit, with Scotch velvet cap, the pleasant blonde youngster went through an interesting repertoire of jumps, spins and steps and won the admiration of the onlookers. Particularly impressive was the poise of the tiny girl - she is just about four feet tall - as she proceeded with her program. Starting with a split jump, Miss Franklin went into a spin, and continued straight through from corner to corner. After that she executed two flying Axel Paulsen jumps, followed by a horizontal spin and a number of steps. A Lutz jump was followed by a jump step and spin, three more Axel Paulsen jumps and more steps. From an acrobatic spiral she worked into a flat cross-foot spin, and then came one of the most difficult manouvres of all, a double Salchow. A toe spin terminated the program."

Photos courtesy Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

In October of 1939 - a month after World War II started - Hazel, her mother and two brothers made their final Transatlantic voyage together. It simply wasn't safe to make the trip back and forth from Southampton to New York City at the time with Nazi U-Boats prowling the Atlantic. Her father remained in England. An invalid as a result of an injury during The Great War, he was tasked with a position as an air raid warden. Michael and David were sent to a boarding school in Lake Placid and Hazel and her mother took apartments wherever a skating opportunity for Hazel presented itself.

Hazel and her mother's situation paralleled that of the great Belita Jepson-Turner, who found herself in America with her domineering stage mother Queenie when World War II broke out as well. What separated the two young women were their skating styles. Belita was a studied artiste with an extensive dance background; Hazel was an acrobatic young dynamo who loved to jump. At the time, only a handful of skaters were performing the double Salchow in their exhibition - and they were much more experienced skaters like Evelyn Chandler, Felix Kaspar and Freddie Tomlins. While Belita had refined artistry on her side, Hazel had pluck.

Photos courtesy "Life" magazine

For a time, Hazel and her mother stayed with Jane Sutphin Leitch's family in Cleveland. A tutor was employed and Hazel received lessons in algebra and art. In her memoir "Sirius-ly Rich" Sutphin Leitch recalled, "Our parents drove Hazel and her mother to the [Cleveland] Arena, and all of us attended every performance, not getting to bed before 11:30 p.m. - school night or not... We became such good friends that Hazel felt comfortable confiding in us that when she skated as the 'twelve-year-old sensation', she was almost fifteen!" The age thing is pretty central to Hazel's story. If you go back and look at the primary sources, you'll see that different articles from the same year will list her as ten, twelve and thirteen years of age. The only consistency seemed to be the fact that she was always billed as being younger than she actually was. Why was this?

Top photo courtesy Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

In the height of her skating career, Hazel looked young for her age. She also looked an awful lot like Shirley Temple, who was hugely popular at the time. Most of the 'leading ladies' in America ice shows of the era weren't teenagers at the time, so her youth became something of a novelty. American critics called her the 'Pocket Miracle Of The Ice' and 'Bundle From Britain'. If the offers rolled in for a talented 'twelve year old sensation', who was Hazel's mother to correct them?

Photos courtesy "The National Ice Skating Guide"

The offers most certainly rolled in too. During wartime, Hazel gave exhibitions at Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden in ice carnivals in support of British war effort and performed in the intermissions of numerous hockey games. The attention she garnered from these opportunities paved the way for top billing in ice revues at the Biltmore and St. Regis hotels. In 1941, she even starred in the "Circus On Ice" show at the New York State Fair.

Photo courtesy University Of Washington, Special Collections. Used with permission.

Hazel was featured in "Life" magazine as a potential successor to Sonja Henie and was among the first skaters filmed at the Rockefeller Center rink for newsreels. Her brother Peter later recalled that her spins were once timed using an electronic device and "she was declared to have the fastest crossfoot spin in the world." In 1943, she joined the cast of Ice Follies as a replacement for her close friend Jane Zeiser, who underwent an emergency appendectomy.

The Ice Follies allowed Hazel to venture into a more interpretive style of skating. In one number, she sported - gasp! - pants and appeared as a street urchin. In another, she dressed as a cat.

Hazel Franklin and Barry Green. Photo courtesy University Of Washington, Special Collections. Used with permission.

Hazel also dabbled in pairs skating, performing duets with Barry Green, a talented coach from Saskatchewan on leave from the Canadian Army. When she wasn't landing Axels and double Salchows, Hazel spent her time cooking, knitting, bowling and horseback riding. She earned several blue ribbons in horse shows.

In 1950, Hazel left the Ice Follies and joined the cast of Holiday On Ice. She spent close to a decade touring Europe before marrying Walter Henry Hadlich, who had been involved in the management of the Ice Follies in the forties. Settling in California, she taught for many years at the Valley Ice Skating Center in Tarzana. Her husband passed away in 1980 and Hazel died in a Los Angeles suburb on April 5, 1989 at the age of sixty-four.

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":

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