Exploring The Collections: The Belita Collection

Every Skate Guard blogdraws from a variety of different sources - everything from museum and library holdings and genealogical research to newspaper archives and dusty old printed materials I've amassed over the last ten years or so. These Collections date back to the nineteenth century and chronicle figure skating's rich history from the days of quaint waltzes in coats and tails to quadruple toe-loop's. Whether you're doing your own research about a famous 'fancy' skater in your family tree or a long-lost ice rink in your community or just have a general skating history question you can't find the answer to online, I'm always happy to draw on these resources and try to help if I can.

This month, I'd like to talk a bit about the Belita Collection. As many of you know, back in 2017 I published a lengthy biography of figure skater, actress and dancer Belita Jepson-Turner. If you haven't read it yet, you can find it here. In the process of researching this feature, I amassed a great deal of material on Belita thanks to donations by her family, friends, BIS Historian Elaine Hooper, World Champion Randy Gardner and others. 

This material included a thirty-six page typewritten memoir penned by Belita that was used as the feature's introduction, a copy of a rare audio interview from the collection of the Pro Skating Historical Foundation, numerous photographs, letters, programs, videos and other memorabilia. Most of these items are physical copies, but there are many items are digitized as well. 

Photo courtesy The Jepson-Turner Private Family Collection. Used with permission.

A great deal of this material was included in the biography, but there was a ton that wasn't included either. This was mainly just due to space when it came to focusing on certain aspects of her story - in particular her film career. 

If you have a special interest in her any aspect of Belita's story, I'd be more than happy to share whatever materials that are in the Skate Guard Collections. If you've got memorabilia pertaining to her career collecting dust in your attic or basement that you'd like to donate, I'd love to hear from you!

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here? Have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

The Tenth Annual Skate Guard Hallowe'en Spooktacular

It's the ghost wonderful time of the year and if you're a loyal Skate Guard reader you know what that means... it is time for The Annual Skate Guard Hallowe'en Spooktacular! This year, we're going all the way back to 1905 to meet a phantom skater with a message of murder in a chilling tale by British author Norman Blunto. Dim the lights, light a candle and prepare to be spooked.


It was mid-winter not only in name but reality. It was not the best kind of weather to choose for travelling, but a pressing invitation from my cousin, Ralph Conroyd, made me forget the cold. I had never met this particular cousin, and was anxious to make his acquaintance. I was surprised to learn he reciprocated tho desire, seeing that I stood between him and the heirdom to considerable wealth.

It was a curious family arrangement; My old uncle, John Conroyd, had made it known that I and two other favourite nephews would in turn, become his heirs. He who ranked foremost in my eccentric relative's heart was not destined to, inherit, having been drowned two winters before when skating. His death was a great shock to my uncle, who nevertheless assured me that I was to fill the favourite's place, though Ralph, the dead man's brother, was my senior; by some fifteen years.

Ralph, however, accepted the arrangement with good humour, and had thereby won my admiration, and the esteem of his friends.

He greeted me with evident pleasure, and I soon discovered him to be an excellent host and most agreeable companion. On the evening of my arrival there was to be a dinner party in my honour, and wishing to be downstairs before the guests arrived, I dressed early.

There was no one about when I descended to the hall, and being somewhat uncertain of my whereabouts, I pushed open the first door I came to, which happened to be ajar. There was a bright fire burning on the hearth, but otherwise the room was not lit up. By the look of it I concluded it was my cousin's special sanctum. All at once I caught sight of him, as I thought - sitting on one side of the hearth - half in shadow, half in firelight.

"Ralph, you are not dressed - you will be late!" I said.

The next moment I saw I had made a mistake. The man was not my cousin, but so like there was excuse for my error. On looking closer, I observed that he was taller than Ralph, and also that he was clean shaven. It was a singularly handsome face, but too melancholy. Apparently he had not heard either my entry or exclamation, for he continued staring into the fire quite oblivious of my presence. Feeling I was in some way an intruder I was on the point of beating a retreat, when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

"Hullo, Jim - what's up? You've been standing there staring at nothing for a full two minutes."

It was my cousin who spoke, and with a cheery laugh he drew a chair up to the fire. "Come along, old fellow, warm yourself - before the people arrive. This is my den - a favourite corner in this ramshackle old place. Somehow, when a man's not married he gives his superfluous affection to queer things, like what you see around you -pipes, guns, fishing tackle, etc."

I was only half listening, for my eyes were still riveted on tho stranger on the other side of the fire. My astonishment suddenly changed to consternation, for I saw my cousin preparing to occupy the very chair the stranger occupied.

"Ralph, what are you doing-don't you see him?" I blurted out. Then all at once I felt very foolish.

"My dear Jim, what the dickens is wrong with you? Come, draw up that chair, and-"

I interrupted him with an exclamation that, was almost a shout, for he had seated himself deliberately on the stranger. I waited for some sound of discomfiture. There was none. I stared until my eyes ached. The man had gone. Then I sank into the chair at hand, feeling all the time my cousin was looking at me with suspicion and perplexity.

"You look us if you'd seen a spook or something," he said presently.

"I have," I replied.

"Jim, are you mad?"

"Mad or sane, I saw you sit on a man not two minutes ago, and he said nothing."

"I sat on a man! Great heavens! it's worse than I thought."

"Oh, you can laugh," I said quietly; "but he was certainly In that chair."

"Someone in my chair - where-where?"

"He was there, but he must have slipped from under you."

"What was he like, this gentleman of your imagination?"

I was somewhat nettled at his continued scepticism, and replied with due firmness:

"He was like you; in fact, before you entered I took him to be you. Afterwards I noticed he was clean-shaven and taller. He wore light tweeds and gaiters."

My cousin roe and fetched a photograph. "Was he anything like this?" he asked.

"Yes; that was the man," I replied feeling rather excited.

"Then you have seen my brother's ghost," he said, and I noticed he now looked perturbed. At that moment the first guests were announced and my cousin hurried away, leaving me to follow. The dinner was a merry one, and I thought no more of tho strange apparition until some days later.

One evening, when the moon was bright and full, Ralph proposed that we should go down to tho lake and have a skate before dinner. Being a keen lover of this exercise, I willingly assented. The ice was in splendid condition -smooth as glass, and dark with mysterious shadows below the surface. The air was still and frosty, and as we were both experienced skaters, the time passed all too quickly.

"One more turn - we won't bother to change tonight - come let us go together," said my cousin as the dinner going resounded through the still night air. We crossed hands and struck out. Twice we skated round tho lake; then I observed we wore heading for a small island which lay in a side channel which I had not noticed. Here the ice swayed under our weight, and weird small sounds rose up as we glided on, and the island threw out fantastic shadows.

"Look a bit gloomy - the moon doesn't seem to shine here," I said. Then, as my uncle made no answer, I suggested turning back, feeling there was an uncertainty about the condition of the ice, which, together with the semi-darkness, destroyed the pleasure I had hitherto enjoyed.

"It is safe enough. I know every inch of it," replied my cousin. Then I gripped his hand until he winced, for as we neared the Island I saw something come towards us from out of the black shadows. My heart beat to suffocation at the sight of this thing, until I recognised in it the figure of a man. Like ourselves, he appeared to be skating, but he never moved away from the shadows round about the island. A sudden premonition of an unknown danger forced me to speak.

"Ralph - he is there - go no further - it is a warning," I stammered, my teeth chattering, but not with cold.

"There is no one one," was the curt answer. "Come on, don't be a fool."

"I tell you I see him - your brother. He is skating alone there in the shadow -and see- he beckons us away. In my excitement I wrenched myself free, and by digging my skates into the ice I just managed to save myself from being carried into the very arms of the phantom man. I looked to see Ralph go blindly forward in his ignorance and obstinacy, but to my surprise he was skating away in the opposite direction, nor did he make any effort to rejoin

Tho next day he left me to drive into a neighbouring town, and hinted that business might keep him there overnight.

After lunch, I went down to the lake. Dusk was deepening into darkness when at last I sat down on the bank to take off my skates. I do not know what made me look up, but as I looked, I saw a softly moving figure on the far side of the lake.

I held my breath as he passed so silently and swiftly over the ice, passing even by the spot where I sat. As he went a breath of chill air fanned me, colder than the night - colder than anything I had ever known.

The skates shone bright in the moonlight, but they made no sound, though I could see they touched the ice. It was horribly weird. Like a shadow he passed on to the shadows beyond appearing again in the moonlight on the far side.

"His reason - there must be a reason!" I muttered

And then quite suddenly my terror left me and I was filled with a desire to help this lone spirit, if help he needed.

I readjusted my skates, and struck out in the direction I had watched him go. I came close up to him. A great courage came to me then, and I spoke to him.

"Tell me what you want - I will do what I can," I whispered gently.

He seemed to smile a little, as if relieved of some anxiety, but he did not speak. I suppose he could not. We skated on side by side - his skates making no sound on the polished surface. When he came to the end of the lake, I looked to see him continue the old circular movement, but he passed straight on, vanishing like mist into the snowy landscape. I was disappointed, but still hoped I might solve the mystery of his strange comings. So strong was my hope that, instead of returning home to the house, I took up my position in another part of the lake in view of the island. I had not long to wait. A wave of chill air - and the phantom skater passed close. Then, to my amazement, I saw there were two figures, and one resembled my cousin Ralph. They glided by me hand in hand, just as I and Ralph had done some days earlier. On they went, until they came near the island. Here they fell apart; he who was like Ralph drew behind the other, then came close up to him. With a quick, strong push he sent his companion forward; then, wheeling round, vanished. Where the other shadow was the ice seemed to part asunder, and he too disappeared, but beneath, into tho dark waters.

I glanced round nervously, remembering how my cousin had tried to lure me on to the island. My brain reeled with misgivings and horrible doubts. Had my young cousin's death been an accident? Yet how could I accuse any man of a heinous crime on the evidence of a vision, which all tho world would discredit. I determined to put my suspicions to the test before accusing Ralph Conroyd of murder. My idea was not entirely unique; I believe it had been used before, but it served Its purpose

"Ralph," I said one evening, when we were smoking together. "You may have heard I am a bit of an author. I want your assistance, for I am stuck fast in the middle of a story."

"I am no good at yarns."

"But you may be able to give me an idea."

"What's the story?".

"There were three brothers," I began.

"Well, go on."

"By a strange whim, the father of those three made the youngest his heir. If by chance he died the second was was to inherit, and lastly the oldest. It was rough on this one, but he did not seem to care, and everyone admired his generosity of spirit. One day tho youngest brother met with a shooting accident. He was found dead -and-"

"Stop! What are you driving at?"

"It is merely a story. I know it resembles in some ways our own case, but fiction is always drawn from fact. As I was saying, the heir was dead. Everyone thought it was an accident, only the oldest brother, he who had been robbed of his birthright knew tho secret of his brother's death."

"You make him out a murderer?"

I nodded, and went on with my story.

"No one else knew, only the man himself. After a lapse of years, he conceived the mad idea of ridding himself of the other one who stood between him and wealth - but this one begins to suspect."

"Go on."

He was staring into the fire, and I saw guilt written in his eyes as clear as the flames which shot up the wide chimney. I noticed, too, that his pipe had gone out.

"That's the difficulty - I can get no further. How would you end the story?"

At my question he started, and then with a hollow laugh turned and looked me in the face.

"I should advise brother number two to go away and keep a silent tongue for fear the murderous instincts in brother number one should again assert themselves."

Was it a threat? But I was not afraid.

"The whole story is an improbable one - so the end may as well be in keeping-  suppose we-"

"The story is not improbable - it is true," I said quickly, leaning forward to catch his glance, "and somehow I should advise the man who knew to leave the country, so that the man who suspects might learn to forget and keep silence. For the sake of the old man ho might be willing to do this - and because the other one was his brother."

Ralph Conroyd had risen and was now pacing the room.

"Perhaps that ending is more to the point," he muttered, "for the man who knew to go away from the man who fancied ho knew."

"Not fancied, for he saw the deed done."

I, too, had risen and was now facing him.

"Saw it done - you!" he gasped, "but no one was there - no one," he recollected himself, but not in time.

"You will leave the country?" I asked. At that moment I pitied him.

"Yes. I will go."

He kept his word. That very night, he disappeared, nor was he ever seen again in England. With him vanished forever the phantom skater.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html

The 1976 Skate Canada International Competition

Photo courtesy Shari Lee Canning

The very first Toronto International Film Festival had just been held, attracting thirty five thousand film-goers. America was in the final days of the Presidential race between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. Stretch Armstrong dolls, the Whac-A-Mole arcade game and the Everlasting Gobstopper were all the rage and the Steve Miller Band's "Rock'n Me" was the most requested song at radio stations.

The year was 1976 and from October 28 to 31, over forty skaters from eleven countries gathered in Ottawa, Ontario for the fourth Skate Canada International competition. The men's and women's figures were held at the Nepean Sportsplex and all other events at the Ottawa Civic Centre.

Photo courtesy Shari Lee Canning

Crowds swelled to nine thousand, while thousands more watched the event from the comfort of their floral print sofas. The generous coverage of the event on CTV, with knowledgeable commentary by Johnny Esaw, played a huge role in its success. Frank Fleming, the President of the CFSA's Skate Canada National Committee, remarked, "If it were not for this medium, Skate Canada could not have been... [If there had] not been cross-country coverage... it would have been Skate Calgary or Skate Edmonton."

Photo courtesy Shari Lee Canning

As in previous years, there was no pairs event - just singles and ice dance. However, audiences were treated to exhibitions by two of the best pairs in the world - Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev and Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner. Canadian skaters Lynn Nightingale and Sherri Baier and Robin Cowan also gave exhibitions. Let's take a look back at how the competitions played out on the ice!


Photo courtesy Shari Lee Canning

Toller Cranston had turned professional, allowing Ron Shaver of Cambridge, Ontario to emerge (without a doubt) as Canada's 'number one man'. Shaver had been forced to withdraw from 1976 Olympic Games due to a groin injury. The medical staff at McMaster Medical Center in Hamilton had helped him recover through a strict fitness and exercise regime. He told a reporter from the Canadian Press that he'd rather be the underdog "because then I can pull out all the stops. I skate more cautiously when I'm number one." Caution was Shaver's friend in the school figures, where he carved out a narrow lead over the Soviet Union's Igor Bobrin. Shaver and Great Britain's Robin Cousins finished one-two in the short program, dropping Bobrin down to third. America's David Santee knocked Bobrin off the podium in the free skate, winning the bronze behind Shaver and Cousins. It was Shaver's second and final win at the CFSA's annual autumn international. Canada's other two entries, eighteen year old Vern Taylor and seventeen year old Brian Pockar, finished eighth and eleventh.

Photo courtesy "Robin Cousins: Skating For Gold", Howard Bass

In the book "Skating For Gold", Cousins recalled, "Skate Canada '76 was my first international competition as the British number one. Since John [Curry's] retirement, I had, as it were, unofficially replaced him... Skate Canada has always been a great competition in every way. On this occasion, between the compulsory figures, I was standing by the barrier and having a conversation with Ronnie Shaver about eating and what I had brought with me from the Ottawa Holiday Inn, where we were all staying, to eat when peckish while waiting off the ice. We ended with a humorous argument about how the English and North American words differ in the meaning. For example, what we would call the boot of a car, they would call the trunk, our bonnet is their hood, and so on. After a while, we suddenly realized that he we were in the middle of a big, dramatic competition, arguing over the English language. A Canadian lady standing nearby found it most amusing to listen to the two of us - earnest rivals on the ice - talking like this. We also discussed the usage of words like buns, pastries, cakes, cookies, and cookies and gateaux, when I happened to mention currants and sultanas. Well, this lady started laughing very hard - and the following morning in my mail box at the hotel I found a little package that contained a very small packet of currants from this lady, who had been much amused by our conversation and had broken the tension for the two of us. That was a characteristic personal experience of the Canadian people and their involvement with the British skaters. Skate Canada was to be the beginning of my special relationship with the Canadian people and the Canadian press - and every time since when I have competed in Canada, I have always had an excellent reception... It is just as if I am skating at home."


America's Linda Fratianne and Priscilla Hill both withdrew due to injury at the eleventh hour and were replaced by Suzie Brasher and Karen DeAngelo. DeAngelo won the school figures over hometown hero Kim Alletson. Switzerland's Denise Biellmann and Great Britain's Karena Richardson placed one-two in the short program, with Kim Alletson sixth in that phase of the event. DeAngelo still held onto the lead overall heading into the free skate, but she dropped off the podium entirely.

Karena Richardson

Kim Alletson skated strongly to win the gold, earning just two more points than Richardson, the reigning British Champion, who had just turned seventeen the month prior. Richardson lived in Stanmore but trained in Deeside, North Wales. The bronze medal went to West Germany's only entry, Garnet Ostermeier, who trained in America. Canada's other two entries, Carolyn Skoczen and Camille Rebus, placed a disappointing eleventh and fourteenth. The event proved to be Kim Alletson's only major competition win.


Janet Thompson and Warren Maxwell. Right photo courtesy "Skating World" magazine.

The announcement of the retirement of Olympic Gold Medallists Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexandr Gorshkov broke in newspapers during the competition, taking some of the attention away from the dancers in Ottawa. It was a very close contest. Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov (ranked fifth in the world) won the compulsories, Susan Carscallen and Eric Gillies (ranked tenth in the world) the March OSP and Janet Thompson and Warren Maxwell (ranked sixth in the world) the free dance. Linichuk and Karponosov skated uncharacteristically poorly. Their free dance had a fall which they had a hard time recovering from and their OSP wasn't well received by either the judges or the audience. Betty Ann Bagley described it in "Skating" magazine as more of a "flamingo flaunt" than a March. They only managed to take the gold because they had one more first and third place ordinal than Warren and Maxwell, who had two more second place ordinals.

Photo courtesy Shari Lee Canning

The only team to receive a standing ovation were Canada's Lorna Wighton and John Dowding. Only seventh after the OSP, the best they could do was move up to sixth behind the Soviet Union's Lidia Karavaeva and Viacheslav Zhigalin and Austria's Susi and Peter Handschmann. Canada's two other teams, Sherry Temple and Marty Kulkerth and Kelly Johnson and David Martin, placed tenth and eleventh.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here? Have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

A Grand Dame Of French Figure Skating: The Jacqueline Vaudecrane Story

Photo courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de France

"If we called her a poet, she would smile at it; but a will, a courage, an exceptional obstinacy for a woman... and what a woman! Jacqueline is on the ice at at six o'clock in the morning, every day, winter and summer... When she has an official outing, she will arrive elegant, well-dressed and flawless. We, who have so often seen her at training, have never heard Jacqueline say 'I am tired'.  Sometimes her nerves crack - a few minutes later, she is in good shape. For Jacqueline, there is no question of a forty-hour week. She goes on ice more than ten hours a day. If she goes out, it will often be useful for skating. She could not live without ice, and that's one hundred percent the secret of her success! I wonder if at night she does not get up to touch the ice in her fridge! Her motto, if she chooses one, would be 'Ice, all for the ice.'" - Jeanine Garanger, "Patinage Sur Glace Historique"

The daughter of Andrée Sarah Oestreicher and Léon André Vaudecrane, Jacqueline Vaudecrane was born November 22, 1913 in Paris, France. She grew up in a devout Roman Catholic household. Her father was a pilot with the Aéronautique Militaire during The Great War and the publisher of a leading business newspaper, "L'Exportateur français: grande revue mondiale d'informations, de défense et d'expansion des intérêts français". Her mother was the editor of a fashion magazine.

Photos courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de France

When Jacqueline was seven, her father took her to The Salon d'Automne, which was near the Palais de Glace at the Champs Elysées in Paris. As they passed the rink, she begged her father to take her skating. She was on the ice the next week and soon Andrée Joly, who trained there among the masses with partner Pierre Brunet, recognized she had potential and told her father so.

Andrée Joly, Pierre Brunet and Jacqueline Vaudecrane. Photo courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Léon Vaudecrane, a very strict man, had other plans for his daughter. At one point, he signed Jacqueline up for piano lessons and demanded she stay at home and practice all day. After much protest, she convinced him to let her choose skating instead. The reasoning behind her choice was simple. She just wanted to be outside.

Photos courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de France

Andrée Joly and Pierre Brunet took Jacqueline under their wing during the roaring twenties, taking her along on trips to St. Moritz and Davos, where she became accustomed to training in sometimes brutal conditions on outdoor ice. She learned figure skating through imitation and reading from Pierre Brunet's Austrian skating manual.

Photo courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de France

Interestingly, one of Jacqueline's first victories on the ice wasn't in a figure skating competition, but in a speed skating race. In 1925, she took first prize in the 'course de fillettes' class in a five hundred meter race held at the Palais de Glace. She won her first medal at the French Figure Skating Championships, a bronze, in 1931 and made her inauspicious debut at the European Championships in Paris in 1932, placing dead last on every judge's scorecard. Four years later, she was sent to the European and World Championships, where she fared just as worse - placing sixteenth and fifteenth.

Around this time, Jacqueline was studying fashion in Versailles. Her father, whom she once described in an interview so kindly transcribed by Lauren Tress as "very eccentric... with strange ideas", told her she was a terrible skater and drove her to quit skating for three years. Out of the blue, it was he who asked her if she'd like to start skating again. It turned out that he'd struck up a friendship with Pierre Brunet. When she returned to the ice, she found that all of her peers had progressed in their skating. She of course hadn't and the experience was understandably frustrating.

Photo courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de France

In the July of 1936, Jacqueline married Marcel Boussoutrot. Pierre Brunet, by then an Olympic Gold Medallist in figure skating, and Roger Ducret, an Olympic Gold Medallist in fencing at the 1924 Summer Olympic Games, stood for her at her wedding. 

From 1936 to 1938, Jacqueline won the French junior title followed by two French senior titles - victories she had strived for fiercely after skating in the shadow of Gaby Clericetti for several years. Unfortunately, her competitive career ended with a fizzle rather a bang. In 1939, the Fédération Française de Patinage sur Glace decided to open up the French Championships to foreign skaters. She was furious when she lost to an unheralded Belgian skater. After placing fourteenth at the final World Championships held before World War II broke out, she quit in utter frustration and decided her passion for figure skating could be put to a better use - setting up an elite skating school. It was a daring decision, as at the time figure skating was largely viewed in France as more of a fashionable pastime than a serious competitive sport and there were few dedicated skating coaches in the country. Her own mentors, The Brunet's, had already left to pursue professional careers in North America.

Photo courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de France

Before almost all of France's indoor rinks closed their doors during World War II, temporarily putting an end to figure skating in the country, Jacqueline and a small group of skaters would cross the demarcation lines in Nazi-occupied Paris to go skating in Chamonix. "One day it happened," recalled Jacqueline. "The Germans had also invaded our skating rinks."

Jacqueline's husband's cousin, aviator Lucien Bossoutrot - a fighter pilot during The Great War - was interned in Vichy in 1943 for his opposition to the Nazi occupation. He fled after fifteen months of imprisonment and joined the Resistance. During the final year of the Nazi occupation, Jacqueline was appointed France's 'national monitor' for figure skating and sent to Chamonix to scout talented young skaters. Her first group of students, which included Huguette Gay-Couttet, Monique Schmidt and Thérèse Tairraz, never really had the chance to further their skating careers because of the War.

Top: Jacqueline du Bief and Jacqueline Vaudecrane. Bottom: Jacqueline Vaudecrane (right) with a group of her students in 1952. Left to right: Claude Daury, Liliane Madaule, Claudine Baulande, Maryvonne Huet, Monique Schmidt, Alain Giletti, Alain Calmat, Michèle Allard and an unidentified skater. Photo courtesy "Skating World" magazine.

After the War, Jacqueline became a mother and taught at the Molitor and Rue Saint-Didier rinks in Paris. A trip to England opened her eyes to the possibilities of skating in France. Impressed by the strength and numbers of British women coming up the ranks, she decided that improving skater's school figures would be the key to taking them far. Upon her return to France, she convinced the rink's employees to flood the ice more often so that her students would have fresh patches to work on.

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

One of Jacqueline's first elite level students was Jacqueline du Bief, whose coach at the Victor Hugo rink - Monsieur Lemercier - had been taken prisoner and sent to Germany during the War. In her book "Thin Ice", Jacqueline du Bief recalled, "Madame Vaudecrane, who was called by her pupils Jacqueline, Clicline or 'patronne', was a little woman with a head of thick, black curly hair, cut short like a boy's, a pair of grey-green eyes that were never still, and an air of authority and resolution. Enthusiastic, choleric, and always over-excited, she had the greatest confidence in herself and her work and no obstacles deterred her. Thus, we used to see this new teacher, who was gifted with the most extraordinary energy, run behind her pupils, all the time shouting corrections at the top of her voice in order to waste no time and the better to urge them on... [She] had realized from the beginning of her career as an instructor that it was a mistake to make things too easy for pupils and to tell them every little thing. She knew that it was much better to make an appeal to their intelligence and to make them think for themselves. Half her teaching was based on the pupil's personal work, and in view of my independent temperament, this method suited me admirably." Jacqueline du Bief made history in 1952 as France's first World Champion and Olympic Medallist in women's figure skating. Jacqueline Vaudecrane credited her pupils success to, above all things, her "iron will".

Jacqueline set up shop at the newly-opened rink at Boulogne-Billancourt in 1955. She coached Alain Giletti and Alain Calmat to the World titles in 1960 and 1965 and was worked with the first two French ice dance couples to medal at the European Championships - Christiane and Jean-Paul Guhel and Brigitte Martin and Francis Gamichon. Over the years, she also worked with Patrick Péra, Denise and Jacques Favart, Liliane Madaule-Caffin, Colette Laurandeau, Jacques de Beaumont, Janine Cartaux and her daughter Joëlle, Robert Dureville, Didier Gailhaguet, Anne-Sophie de Kristoffy, Laetitia Hubert and Surya Bonaly. She had no regrets about starting skaters young because she was of the belief that technique came easier than musicality. The more time she had with a skater, the more they could develop in both respects.

Didier Gailhaguet and Jacqueline Vaudecrane. Photo courtesy "L'Équipe".

Passionate and tough as nails, Jacqueline earned the nickname 'The Boss' from her students and certainly wasn't afraid of pushing the boundaries of the sport. After hearing Arnold Gerschwiler criticize a Czechoslovakian woman who included a double loop in her program for being 'unladylike', she decided to stick it to him by adding the even harder double Lutz to Jacqueline du Bief's bag of tricks. She costumed Alain Giletti in a red suit at a time when men, with few exceptions, dressed conservatively in black or grey. Cringing grey-haired French officials remembered the 'rouge' all too well. Jacqueline herself had donned a scarlet dress back in 1934.

Jacqueline also devoted considerable time and effort to developing her skater's on-ice personalities, prioritizing musical appreciation and artistic expression. She was all on board for her students being sent to America to work with the Brunet's if it bettered their chances of winning and by the accounts of her students, was sometimes more nervous about the results than they were.

Coaching Alain Giletti and Alain Calmat at the same time had its moments for Jacqueline. The two talented young men were very competitive and didn't always listen to her orders. At the 1954 World Championships in Paris, she was sick and had to spend a lot of time at her hotel. The two Alain's snuck off and attended a fun fair against her wishes. Another time, she insisted that all of her students wear tights "to improve body expression". Alain Calmat refused at first. Then he saw how well Alain Giletti was skating in them and changed his tune.

Jacqueline's students all had a great respect for her. Alain Calmat once remarked, "She's never mean, she never sacrifices one student for another, and I think that’s very important because it’s very rare." Alain Giletti recalled, "She was really a mother hen for me. She cared about my business, my equipment, how I washed up when I was very young." Patrick Péra described her as "a little piece of woman, always the first on the ice, never sick. A mother hen sometimes, very hard, demanding, sometimes uncompromising too." One example of this 'uncompromising' determination was a story that appeared in Jacqueline du Bief's book "Thin Ice". She recalled, "Arriving late to the little [train] station [in Chamonix] after some rather complicated adventures, what was my surprise to find Madame Vaudecrane on the line, gesticulating wildly in front of the engine. Seeing that I could not arrive before the train left, she had put forth all her charm and her energy to persuade the stationmaster to hold it up for me. In doing this, she had not hesitated to jump down on the track, despite the protests of that good man, and the train - which was composed of a single carriage in which we were the only passengers - was still in the station when I at last arrived!"

Jacqueline Vaudecrane, Didier Gailhaguet and Patrick Péra

A fun fact about Jacqueline is the fact she had a green thumb... and a very unique garden at her country home. When each of her students won a title, they gave her a tree as thank you. When Alain Calmat won the World Championships in 1965, she got a weeping willow. When Christiane and Jean-Paul Guhel medalled at the European Championships, they gave her a Japanese cedar. As her students accumulated medals, she accumulated shrubbery. She also enjoyed needlework and would show guests to her home the pieces she'd made while travelling abroad to figure skating competitions, proudly saying, "These are my school figures!"

Jacqueline was honoured by the French government in 1984 as a recipent of the Legion Of Honour, the highest French order of merit for military and civil achievements. It was presented to her by her student Alain Calmat, who was then the Minister Of Sports. She officially retired from coaching in 2001 at the age of eighty-eight. She passed away on February 27, 2018 at the incredible age of one hundred and four in the small town of Uzès, just outside the ancient village of Saint Quentin-la-Potèrie in the Gard department of southern France.

Less than a decade before her death, Jacqueline said, "I had no teachers. I worked alone. It was difficult. So, if I hadn’t received much, I would give to others. Evidently, whenever I have a World Champion, I don’t compare myself that I was never World Champion. I think it's good for a sports instructor to have not ever been a grand champion."

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here? Have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

A Judging Trailblazer: The Katherine Miller Sackett Story

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

"If we accept the fact that better skating demands staying on the beat, then isn't it logical to bend every effort toward the accomplishment of that goal? Though all skaters are not musically inclined, there is no justification for the belief that some skaters are hopelessly incapable of developing an acceptable sense of rhythm. It is quite possible that many skaters have been unwilling to devote the work and study necessary to develop better understanding of timing and expression. Years are spent practicing school figures and learning dance steps, but it is probably agreed that little actual effort is devoted to analyzing music." - Katherine Miller Sackett, "Skating" magazine, December 1944

The daughter of Susie (Scott) and Harry Miller, Katherine 'Kathy' Scott Miller was born November 9, 1902 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A middle child, she grew up with her parents, older sister Grace, younger brother Keith and a live-in housekeeper from Sweden in a modest home on Grand Avenue. Her father was a grain merchant by trade. At the age of four, she took her first steps on the ice on a local pond and a lifelong love of figure skating began.

Katherine eventually married Bob Sackett, the district manager of a stock food supply company. Bob's work brought the couple to Norfolk and Omaha, Nebraska and later, the Windy City - Chicago, Illinois. Katherine and Bob joined the Omaha Figure Skating Club and Figure Skating Club of Chicago, where they took up ice dancing and soon became USFSA judges. As a young woman Katherine had studied at the (St. Agatha's) Northwestern Conservatory of Music in Minneapolis, where she developed a broad musical background and an understanding of timing and rhythm that proved a great asset to her as a skating judge over the years.

During World War II, Katherine and Bob moved to California, where they joined the St. Moritz Ice Skating Club. It was in California that both became quite involved in the USFSA. Bob served as the Chairman of the USFSA Midwestern Committee for two terms and in 1951, served as the association's First Vice-President. Katherine served as the Dance Vice-Chairman for Music and Special Projects but was more interested in judging than sitting on committees.

Harold Payne, Katherine Miller Sackett and Rose Kanger. Photo courtesy "Skating World" magazine.

Katherine progressed through the judging ranks and in the spring of 1952, she made history as the first American woman to serve as a judge in an officially recognized event at the World Championships. At the time, judging was definitely an 'old boy's club' with only a small handful of women - mostly Britons - being nominated by their federations to act as officials at ISU Championships. In an era when British dance teams utterly dominated, Katherine advised American teams to put more effort into their free dancing in order to gain an edge on the competition. She penned numerous articles for "Skating" magazine and put in countless hours educating judges at conferences and seminars.

Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine

Katherine continued to judge at the U.S., North American and World Championships throughout the fifties. She was America's judge in the dance event at the 1953 World Championships, the 1955 World Championships in men's and dance and the 1959 World Championships in men's and pairs. In 1960, she was appointed as an alternate judge for the Olympics in Squaw Valley. She submitted her resignation as a World Figure and Dance Judge to the USFSA in 1966, but continued to serve as a National and Gold Dance Judge for several years afterwards and was one of the founding members of the El Camino Figure Skating Club of Belmont. She passed away on February 24, 1990 in Palo Alto, California at the age of eighty-eight and her pioneering contributions as a judge are all but overlooked today.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here? Have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

LGBTQ+ History Month

October is LGBTQ+ History Month in Canada and Skate Guard celebrates key milestones of LGBTQ+ skaters. 

You can find all of the LGBTQ+ History Month content by tapping on the side menu bar of the blog or clicking here.

To nominate LGBTQ+ skaters, coaches, judges and builders to the Skate Canada Hall Of Fame, click here

Women's History Month

Photo courtesy Government of Canada

October is Women's History Month Month in Canada and Skate Guard celebrates key milestones of women in figure skating.

You can find all of the Women's History Month content by tapping on the side menu bar of the blog or clicking here.

To nominate amazing Canadian women in figure skating to the Skate Canada Hall Of Fame, click here

Latin American Heritage Month

Mola of Sun God with Moon from Mansucum Village in Panama's San Blas Islands. Photo courtesy National Museum of National History.

October is Latin American Heritage Month in Canada and Skate Guard celebrates key milestones of skaters of Latin American heritage in Canada. 

You can find all of the Latin American Heritage Month content by tapping on the side menu bar of the blog or clicking here

To nominate skaters of Latin American heritage to the Skate Canada Hall Of Fame, click here

German Heritage Month


October is German Heritage Month in Canada and Skate Guard celebrates key milestones of skaters of German heritage in Canada.

You can find all of the German Heritage Month content by tapping on the side menu bar of the blog or clicking here

To nominate skaters of German heritage to the Skate Canada Hall Of Fame, click here

#Unearthed: Notes On Ancient Bone Skates

When you dig through skating history, you never know what you will unearth. In the spirit of cataloguing fascinating tales from skating history, #Unearthed is a once a month 'special occasion' on Skate Guard where fascinating writings by others that are of interest to skating history buffs are excavated, dusted off and shared for your reading pleasure. From forgotten fiction to long lost interviews to tales that have never been shared publicly, each #Unearthed is a fascinating journey through time.

This month's 'buried treasure' wasn't merely buried in a stack of old books - it indeed pertained to something buried in the ground. Dr. Robert Munro's piece "Notes On Bone Skates" appeared in the twenty eighth volume of the "Proceedings Of The Society Of Antiquaries Of Scotland", published in Edinburgh on March 12, 1894. Dr. Munro had worked as a General Practititioner in Kilmarnock for many years but had retired in 1886 to focus his energy entirely on archaeological research and writing. He later lectured on Prehistoric Archaeology at Edinburgh University.

I have included both of the original sketches included in Dr. Munro's article as well as a few other illustrations that he mentioned, which appeared in other works of the Victorian era.


As, in a syllogism, the conclusion is necessarily involved in the premises, so, in archaeology, every general inference must depend upon the accuracy of the observed facts. More especially is this the case when the problem at issue is of a complex character, such as the determination of the range of a given group of objects in space and time.

The contradictory opinions enunciated by archaeologists in regard to the period when bone skates were used, justify the following attempt to define their position in early European civilisation with greater precision than has hitherto been done. Accordingly, I shall ask your attention while I take a rapid survey of the circumstances in which so many of these primitive implements have been found.

During the summer of 1888 I visited Holland, mainly for the purpose of making inquiries as to the nature of certain remarkable mounds called Terpen, irregularly scattered over some of its low-lying districts, more especially Friesland, which in recent times have been found to be rich repositories of the industrial remains of the earlier people who inhabited the country. As I have already published an account of those mounds from an archaeological point of view, I need not now occupy time by repeating details which, however interesting, could only be regarded as preliminary to the subject of this paper. One observation only I must ask you to bear in mind, viz., that they are the debris
of ancient marine pile-dwellings which nourished, at least, from the time of Pliny down to about the 12th century. A few years ago agriculturists discovered that the contents of these terpen were possessed of highly ammoniacal properties, which have been since utilised as guano.

For this purpose the terp at Aalzum, one of the largest in Friesland, was being excavated at the time of my visit, and so I took the opportunity of examining it, under the guidance of Mr Corbelijn Battaerd, Conservator of the Leeuiearden Museum. It seems to be an essential law in this part of the world to submit all antiquarian objects collected in the course of the excavations to the authorities of the Museum before being offered to outsiders, so as to give the former an opportunity of acquiring whatever articles may be considered of national interest. On this occasion the workers - a number of men and women - produced their little hoards for the inspection of Mr Battaerd; and after he had
picked out certain objects for the Museum, I selected a few portable things, which, on my return home, I presented to the National Museum in Edinburgh. Among these relics was the bone skate here represented (fig. 1).

It is formed of the metacarpal bone of a horse, and is highly polished with use on one side. It measures 9 inches in length, but, with the exception of a small hole at one end, shows no marks by which it could be attached to the foot. There was at the time of my visit a small collection of similar skates in the Leeuwarden Museum; but since the terpen have been so largely excavated, bone skates have become too common to be of much antiquarian value. In looking over the list of objects acquired for the Museum during the year from October 1889 to October 1890, I find notices of 15 bone skates. The largest (characterised in the Proceedings of the Friesch Genootschap as extraordinarily large) was found in a terp at Bilgaard, and measures 11 inches in length; the shortest is only 4 inches in length. Their average length is about 9 inches. Three are described as having a hole at one end; one as being greatly worn by use; and four as fragments. In the following year the addition to the collection of bone skates was less, being only ten - one pair of them having been found in the walls of an old building in Leeuwarden.

In East Friesland mounds similar to the terpen are called Warfen, and among the industrial remains disinterred from them are also bone skates. One, "in einem Warfe bei Grimersum gefunden," is figured by Dr. Tergast in a small work entitled "Die Heidnischen Alterthumer Ostfrieslands". This author, however, considers that such objects were used as polishers, and describes them as "Knochen, an einer Seite polirt, zum Glatten des Gewebes." 

The late Dr Lindenschmit figures two bone skates... one from the museum at Hanover, and the other from the museum at Leiden. The origin of this latter example is supposed to be more precisely penned by adding the words "gefunden in einem Grabhiigel bei Oosterend in Friesland." Dr. Lindenschmit also states that similar objects had been found in the provinces of Zeeland, Utrecht, and Geldern. Baron van Breugel Douglas, in an article on the debris of ancient hearths in Friesland, read at the International Congress of Anthropology and Prehistoric Archaeology held in 1869, at Copenhagen, thus refers to bone skates exhibited in the Museum of Northern Antiquities: "Avant de finir je me permets de faire a M. le Directeur du Musee des Antiquites du Nord une observation sur des objets qui se trouvent dans une des vitrines de la XV" salle (moyen-age). Ce sont des os droits et polis d'un c6te et perfores aux deux bouts d'un trou, connus en Prise comme les patins des anciens Prisons. Je pense que ces objets doivent etre place's dans le premier flge de la classification adoptee, celui de pierre, qui contient aussi d'autres objets en os, aussi bieii qu'eii corne ou en aretes. Je sais bien qu'on s'en est servi encore dans des temps postieurs, mais ce fait ne decide pas la question de 1'Sge dans lequel ils doivent etre place's. A mon avis, c'est celui de leur invention."

Dr. Conwentz, director of the Provinzial-Museum in Danzig, informs me that there is one bone skate in the archaeological department of this museum. The specimen was found in the bed of the river Motlau, within the town, and is well preserved. Bone skates are among the relics found on several of the lake-dwellings in North Germany. The settlements in the Persanzigersee and in the Dabersee, both of which were contemporary with the Burgwalle, have yielded a few specimens associated with other relics described as of Slavish origin. Another specimen, figured in my Lake-Dwellings of Europe , was found on the Pacwerkbau, in the Kownatkensee, East Prussia. It is about 9 inches long, and presents a flat surface, highly polished by use. Among the other industrial objects from the same locality, exhibited in the Prussia Museum, Konigsberg, were a small stone axe, a worked flint (ibid.,
Nos. 12 and 13), and some pottery, ornamented with finger and string-marks (Schnurornament).

Herr von Schab figures a bone skate from the lake-dwelling in the Lake of Starnberg, Bavaria (Keller's Swiss Lake Dwellings, 2d. ed., pi. clxxxii. fig. 36 and p. 593). The assortment of relics from this settlement, deposited in the Archaeological Museum at Munich, seems to me to contain stray objects from different civilisations. A horse-shoe with six nail-holes, two iron spears, and a remarkable iron knife of large size (Lake-Dwellings of Europe, fig. 37, No. 1), together with some worked objects of bone and horn (ibid., fig. 36, No. 26), undoubtedly belong to a later age than that of the actual lake-dwellers. There is a tradition that the island was originally the site of a heathen temple and a sacred burying-place, which became subsequently appropriated by the Christians, and used by them for similar purposes. Some countenance is given to-this tradition by the fact that the workmen, when digging the foundations of the present royal residence built on the ruins of an old ecclesiastical establishment, came upon sepulchral remains of a mixed character - early mediaeval, Roman, and prehistoric. Among the heterogeneous debris of humanity collected in the "trouvaille de Toszeg" in Hungary, now recognized to be analogous in structure to the terremare of North Italy, there was an object thus described in the Catalogue d'exposition prehistorique, 1876,—" Un ostroue aux deux bouts ayant peutetre servi de Patin."

Another locality said to have yielded a bone skate is the lakedwelling at Moosseedorf, near Bern. This statement is of some consequence, because if the object can be authenticated as a genuine relic of the inhabitants of that settlement, we will be compelled to relegate the origin of bone skates back to the pure Stone age. The bone skate reputed to have been found on this station is figured in Keller's Lake Dwellings of Switzerland (PL cl. fig. 6), and described as follows:  "One of the uses to which the long bones of animals were applied is singular. This figure is the sketch of a skate made out of the long bone of a horse. It is between 10 and 11 inches long. On one side it has the natural appearance of the bone, but on the other there is a fiat polished surface, nearly 9 inches long and about half an inch wide. There are no perforations in the bone, but there are two incisions in front and two projections behind, which would allow of its being fastened to the foot. This specimen was first published by Messrs Albert Jahn and Dr Uhlmann in 1857 (Bern), and subsequently in several other quarters." It may be remarked that no notice of this bone skate has appeared in any of Keller's original reports on the Pfahlbauten, nor in the first English edition of his works published in 1866.

The most interesting group of antiquities in which are bone skates largely represented is that collected on the ruins of the ancient town of Birka in Sweden. The explorations made on the site of this town
are of great archaeological value, inasmuch as they illustrate that most famous period of pretohistoric times in Scandinavia known as the Viking period. The complete monograph on this great "find," which I understand is in the course of preparation by Dr. Stolpe, is not yet published. The following extract from the guide to the National Museum at Stockholm, where the relics are preserved, will, however, sufficiently explain the circumstances for our present purpose: "On the island Bjorko, in Lake Malar, stood the town of Birka, celebrated for its trade, and also for its being the first place where Christianity was preached in Sweden. The northern end of the island is almost completely covered with barrows, as well as three-sided, four-sided, and 'boat-shaped' arrangements of stones. The number of such graves visible above the surface of the ground is over 2000, and their number has evidently been greater. Numerous other graves, containing burned bodies, are not distinguishable above ground through mounds or arrangements of stones. It follows that during the latter part of the heathen period the island had a very numerous population, and the site of an ancient town can also be distinguished. Along the N.W. coast of the island stretches a cultivated field, more than 20 acres in area, known in common parlance as 'Svarta jorden' (the black earth), the soil of which consists of a compound of charcoal, ashes, and sand, with quantities of animal bones imbedded therein, together with ancient objects of all kinds. The investigations made by Dr Stolpe since 1871 have brought to
light that the charcoal and ashes came from the hearths of the inhabitants whose houses were built here, and that the bones were the remains of their meals." Dr. Stolpe then goes on to describe the objects found in those different cemeteries, far too numerous and varied to be here even mentioned.
He shows that the graves containing unburned bodies were those of the inhabitants of Birka, who had been converted to Christianity by Ansgar and his followers. The relics collected on the site of the town itself, i.e. in the " black earth," consisting of a vast assortment of implements, weapons, ornaments, fabrics, coins, food refuse, &c., &c., are then briefly enumerated. The entire collection from Birka gives a vivid picture of the social life of the period, and particularly of the inhabitants of that nourishing town, from its rise in the middle of the 8th century down to its final destruction about the middle of the 11th century. Among the miscellaneous objects from the "black earth" are bone skates, two dozen of which I counted in the Birka collection when I last visited the Stockholm Museum, a couple of years ago. But these are merely specimens, and by no means represent the entire number collected. Dr. Stolpe, in an address delivered to the members of the "Congress International d'Anthropologie et d'Archeologie prehistoriques," on 13th August 1874, long before the entire excavations were completed, thus refers to the bone skates: "En hiver, quand la glace recouvrait la surface du lac, on la parcourait sur des patins confectionnes d'os de boeuf ou de cheval, principalement les os du metacarpe et du metatarse et parfois le radius. Pres de 300 patins pareils decouverte pendant les trois dernieres annees, temoignent de la vivacite des commtmications sur la glace du Malar. Ces instruments de locomotion paraissent avoir ete tout aussi diligemment employes par les adultes que par les enfants. On se sert encore aujourd'hui de patins identiques dans plusieurs de nos provinces." (Compte Rendu, p. 625).

In corroboration of Dr. Stolpe's statement, as to the survival of the custom of using bone skates to recent times, I may mention that specimens of them may be seen in the ethnological collections in Stockholm, one of which is engraved in the guide book to the Northern Museum (fig. 82). I also saw some bone skates in the public museum at Visby, in the island of Gotland, in regard to which the curator remarked that he himself in his earlier years had actually used similar skates.

Let me now direct your attention to facts gleaned nearer home. In the year 1866 General Fox-Pitt-Rivers described, at the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, remains of pile-buildings exposed by workmen while making excavations for the foundations of a modern building near the site of a portion of the old London Wall. Here, in a bed of peat 7 to 9 feet thick, intervening between the accumulated rubbish of modern London and a bed of waterworn gravel, were found decayed wooden piles associated with the debris of kitchen middens and a large assortment of industrial remains. The vast majority of the articles collected are undoubtedly of Roman workmanship, but amongst them were others of a ruder character, such as implements made of bone and horn, among which were two bone skates, thus described by the author of the paper above referred to: "With them were also found the two bone skates on the table; they are of the metacarpal bone of a small horse or ass, one of which has been much used on the ice. Exactly similar skates also of the metacarpal of the horse or ass have been found in a tumulus of the Stone period at Oosterend in Friesland; a drawing of them is given in Lindenschmit's Catalogue of the Museum at Mayence, &c. Others have also been found in Zeeland, at Utrecht, and in Guelderland, and there is a specimen in the Museum at Hanover. Professor Lindenschmit attributes all these to the Stone period, but the specimens on the table are evidently of the Iron age, the holes in the back having been formed for the insertion of an iron staple. Similar skates have been found in the Thames, but they have not hitherto been considered to date so early in England as in Roman times."

Mr. Roach Smith, in describing a bone skate found at Moorfields, in the boggy soil peculiar to that district, makes the following remarks: "A large number of similar skates have been obtained, not only from this locality, but also from various parts of the city. Fitz-Stephen, who lived in the time of Henry II., in describing the sports of the citizens of London, says: 'When that great moor, which washeth Moorfields at the north wall of the city, is frozen over, great companies of young men go to sport on the ice,' &c. After enumerating the various modes of sliding, he continues: 'Some are better practised to the ice, and bind to their shoes bones, as the legs of some beasts (tibias scilicet animalium), and hold stakes in their hands, headed with sharp iron, which sometimes they strike against the ice; and these men go on with speed, as doth a bird in the air, or darts shot from some, warlike engine.' .. . In Bishop Percy's Translations of Runic Poetry, skating is alluded to as being one of the accomplishments of the North, of the highest character. Harold, in the poem called his Complaint, says : 'I know how to perform eight exercises. I fight with courage ; I keep a firm seat on horseback; I am skilled in swimming; I glide along the ice on skates; I excel in darting the lance; I am dexterous at the oar; and yet a Russian maid disdains me.'" ".. . In the twenty-fourth table of the Edda skating is thus spoken of:' Then the King asked what that young man could do who accompanied Thor? Thielfer answered, that in running upon scates he would dispute the prize with any of the Countries. The king owned that the talent he spoke of was a very fine one...'  Olaus Magnus speaks of the skate as being made of polished iron, or of the shank-bone of a deer or sheep, about a foot long, filed down on one side, and greased with hog's lard to repel the wet.

My friend Herr Worsae of Copenhagen informs me that skates of bone similar to those in my possession have been found in Holland, in Scandinavia, and particularly in the southern part of Sweden. He also refers to a very curious passage in one of the old Scandinavian mythological songs, in which it is said that Oiler, or [Ullr], god of the winter, runs on bones of animals over ice. Formerly skates of bone were used in Iceland. Indeed, it appears evident that they were in general use in all parts of the North of Europe. I have been informed that they were not entirely superseded by the steel skates in London at the latter part of the last century " (Collectanea Antiqua, vol. i. p. 167).

Three bone skates are engraved in the Proceedings of the Archaeological Institute (1848), in respect of which the following remarks are made: "Skates formed of the leg-bone of a small horse or other animal, discovered in Lincoln. One side was shaved off, presenting a smooth, flat surface, and in
some examples there is a transverse perforation through one end, doubtless to pass a strap, and at the other end another, in a lengthwise direction, which might receive a peg or hook, for the purpose of attachment to the foot." One of the relics of this nature exhibited was of greater length and weight
than is suitable for such use, and possibly was used with some kind of sledge, or as a "runner," to facilitate the removal of a boat; it was found in 1848, near an ancient canoe disinterred in forming the Great Northern Railway at Stixwold Ferry." (Lincoln Vol., p. xxxii.)

Two of the above objects are now in the National Museum of Edinburgh ; also three other bone skates dug up in Moorfields, London. The two from Lincoln which are here represented (fig. 2), are described in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland as follows (vol. vi. p. 314):—
" Ancient bone skate, 9 inches in length, one extremity being cut to a point. It was found, at a depth of 70 feet, in the parish of St Peter's, at Arches, Lincoln. Another specimen, measuring 14 inches in length, pierced with a hole at each extremity. Found in 1848, at Stixwold Ferry, near Lincoln."

In the Museum at York there are a few skates exhibited which are thus referred to in the Handbook:
"Ancient skates, formed of the leg-bones of horses, polished on one side. They are frequently found in York, as at London and Lincoln, and were probably introduced into England by the Danes." These are all the materials I have been able to collect on the subject, but I daresay they might be considerably increased by a more careful search among old documents and in local museums. I do not, however, think that any additional data so gleaned would materially alter the conclusions pointed at by the facts I have laid before you. The function of a skate assumes the existence of a climate capable, of producing ice of sufficient strength and duration to afford scope for the practice of this mode of locomotion. Hence, the climatal-element would alone restrict their distribution, whether in past or present times, to the northern and colder regions of Europe. But .the geographical area of ancient bone skates, as revealed by the discoveries above recorded, seems to me to be more limited than that which climate alone demands. Thus in Britain they have been found only in a comparatively small district extending along the eastern shore-land from York to London. This is merely the western fringe of the area of their geographical distribution, which, as we have seen, embraced Holland, Denmark, the lower portions of Scandinavia, and North Germany. But before disposing of the significance of this point, it will be necessary to inquire into their distribution in time.

Probably the pastime of skating is more prevalent now than at any former period in the world's history, so that the discontinuance of bone skates does not mark the death of a custom, but merely the substitution of a more suitable material than the animal bones which had originally served for this method of locomotion. Nor is there any exceptional interest attached to the gradual abandonment of these primitive skates more than to any other of the superseded implements of our common industries, such as querns, spindle-whorls, spinning-wheels, corn-hooks, &c. It is more especially at the other end of the chronological chain marked out by the appearance of bone skates on the field of European civilisation that their archaeological interest lies. While their dying-out stage has lingered on in some quarters almost to the present day, the facts bearing on their origin, so far as hitherto correlated, leave the question, both as to time and locality, in the greatest doubt. Dr. Lindenschmit, as already mentioned, includes them among prehistoric objects of the Stone age. In support of this view no less than four of the above recorded instances of discovery might be cited with some show of plausibility, viz., the grave-mound at Oosterend in Friesland, and the lake-dwellings of Kownatken, Starnberg, and Moosseedorf. The suggestion that the perforated bone found in a terramara in Hungary was a skate, rests on too slender a basis to be taken into account.

We will now examine seriatim the circumstances in which bone skates have been found in those four localities, with the view of showing that not one of them can be fairly accepted as a genuine product of the earlier civilisation with whose remains it had become associated. That the bone skate figured by Lindenschmit came from a gravemound at Oosterend we have no evidence except the bare statement. I do not, however, question the bona fides of this statement, either on the part of Dr/ Lindenschmit or of the discoverer of the object; but I cannot help thinking that the so-called Grab-hugel was nothing more than a Terp-liiigel. At that time the nature of the terpen was not known, and it is quite natural to suppose that an artificial accumulation of earth, containing a novel object of human workmanship, would be unhesitatingly considered as a burial-mound. Oosterend is situated a few miles south-west of Leeuwarden, in a district abounding with terp-mounds. Such a locality, liable to be overrun with the tides prior to the construction of the great dykes which now hem back the ocean, was not likely to be selected by prehistoric man as a suitable place for the construction of a Grabhugel.

The circumstances in which the other specimens mentioned by Lindenschmit were found are not stated, being apparently unknown, so that his Stone-age theory of their origin is founded on one example reported merely on hearsay evidence to have come from a grave-mound. The observations made by Baron van Breugel Douglas, already quoted, would appear to have been founded on Dr. Lindenschmit's opinion. The finding of bone skates on some of the lake-dwellings of North Germany is quite in keeping with the mediaeval character generally assigned to these structures. Nor am I inclined to remove from this category the Kownatken lake-dwelling, notwithstanding that a few articles of the Stone age were found on it. From this circumstance. Professor Heydeck of Konigsberg thinks that the settlement should be relegated back to prehistoric times. But, on the other hand, Professor Virchow, who has paid great attention to the phenomena of Pfahllaufen, ascribes all the lacustrine structures in North Germany to a much later period than their analogues in Switzerland. "Ich denke," says he, "wir werden uns entschliessen miissen, ganz in Gegensatze zu den siiddeutschschweizenschen Pfahlbauten, die Einfiihrung der nb'rdlichen Pfahlbauten an die Einwanderung des Slavo-lettischen Stammes anzukniipfen."

In declining to accept the suggested prehistoric origin of the Kownatken settlement on the ground of finding a few relics of the Stone age on it, we are supported by evidence derived from various collateral phenomena of an analogous character. A mixture of relics, apparently belonging to the earlier ages, is a feature common to many of the lakedwellings of Ireland and Scotland. "We might with equal logical consistency argue that the Lochlee crannog was founded in the Stone age, because among its relics were a stone axe and a flint scraper. But, in this case, such a conclusion would be absurd in face of the fact that in the same relic-bed, and almost in the very same spot where this stone axe lay, there was also an iron knife (see Ancient Scottish Lake-Dwellings, p. 147). And moreover, the very wooden structures which formed the foundations of the crannog, ,and consequently preceded the use of all the relics, bore unmistakable evidence of having been fashioned with, iron tools. In regard to the Rosen Insel, in. the Lake of Starnberg, there can be no doubt that a pile-settlement of the Bronze age flourished here, but, as already explained, the locality continued to be occupied by successive races up to the present time, so that in the absence of any positive evidence to show that the bone skate belonged to the earlier inhabitants, its discovery does not legitimately carry us back beyond the later period.

Only one other bone skate, labelled prehistoric, remains to be explained away, viz., that from the lake-dwelling at Moosseedorf. This settlement is one of the most typical of the Stone age in Switzerland, and has yielded a large assortment of relics characteristic of that period, but none of the later ages, so that it appears to have come to an end prior to the Bronze age. Moosseedorfsee was a small lake which became frozen over every winter, and thus afforded special facilities for skating. What, therefore, could be more probable than that, at any subsequent time, some person, enjoying the pastime of skating, would drop one of his skates over the site of the lake-dwelling? We must remember that after the destruction of the settlement not a vestige of its wood-work would remain above water to prevent such an occurrence at any time during the last two thousand years. The bone skate from Moosseedorfsee is thus not only an isolated and stray object among the lacustrine antiquities of Switzerland, but, so far as I know, nothing of the kind has ever been found in any station of the Stone or Bronze age in Europe. Its presence among the relics of the primitive lake-dwellers at Moosseedorf seems to me pretty much on a par with the finding of an exploded gun-cartridge at the bottom of a prehistoric cairn. From these facts and observations, I am of opinion that we have no trustworthy evidence in support of the theory that bone skates were overused in prehistoric times in Europe. On the contrary, they appear to have been invented by the early Teutonic races who inhabited the shores of the Baltic, and to have been introduced into Britain by the early immigrants who hailed from these regions, possibly the superfluous inhabitants of the Terpen.

As a corollary to this discussion, let me observe that it is always of importance to archaeologists to be acquainted with the special characteristics of any well-marked civilisation. If this conclusion as to the origin and distribution of bone skates be well founded, their discovery in a pile-structure in London, notwithstanding that they were associated with objects undoubtedly emanating from Roman sources, may have a determinative significance on the nature of these remains not hitherto sufficiently recognised.

P.S.— Since writing these notes I have had an opportunity of seeing a few more bone skates. In the Naturliistorisches Museum, Vienna, there are five or six examples from Bohemia. Two of these were found associated with objects which, in the opinion of Dr. Moriz Hoerness, might be regarded as bordering on prehistoric times. The others have a more recent appearance, and are probably products of mediaeval times. In the National Museum at [Budapest] are several metacarpal bones of the horse or ass, shaped and perforated like bone skates, but none of these objects presents a polished surface, and it is possible that they may have been used for a different purpose. One specimen in the Joanneum Museum at Graz is clearly of recent origin, but it has no history. —R. M.

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