The Prehistory of Figure Skating

This is a thread from rec.sport.skating.ice.figure that started when somebody started to talk about "the best skater ever"....

From Trudi Marrapodi (marrapod@binghamton.edu):

Oh, PLEEZ let's not start a thread of "best skater ever." You don't seem to realize the import of "ever"--which means ever since the first pond froze over to today. I think it's way too presumptive to name a "best skater ever."

From Olivia Olivares (olivares@aruba.ccit.arizona.edu):

"Ever since the first pond froze over"?! Good heavens!

Okay, I'll give it a shot:

The best figure skater ever to hit the ice was Gor-Tar, a stalwart young Cro-Magnon living in the frozen wastes of what is now Norway, circa 6000 B.C. Gor-Tar's astounding talent was first noticed by his tribe when he used a pair of flattened aurochs bones and strips of mammoth hide to glide across a frozen fjord to reach a puffinry (he hoped to make a gift of their tender flesh and colorful beaks to his future mate, the lovely Babakuka). On the way back from the puffinry, he caught an edge, and in trying to right himself, inadvertently threw a single Axel. Babakuka, watching from the shore, was enchanted by his spinning and balancing act, and signalled her approval by jumping up and down, hooting and screeching and tossing handfuls of moss and lichens onto the ice. Many of the other females of the tribe followed suit. The other young males, seeing enhanced breeding opportunities, fashioned aurochs-and-mammoth-hide footwear and cast themselves onto the ice, flailing and thrashing -- but none with the flair and style of Gor-Tar.

Eventually, Gor-Tar claimed Babakuka for his own, and they had many children, who would all follow in their illustrious parent's footsteps. There was a girl child whose astounding grace and unfortunate ability to remain upright on the ice earned her the name "Ba-ee-yool" ("ow that hurt" in the language of her people), a strong young boy whose upright carriage and tendency to perform the same steps over and over caused the tribe to call him "Pol Wai Li" ("do something else fa' cryin' out loud"), and a daughter who would match her father in skill and grace. Her tribe would name her "Yah-mah-goo-chee" ("God that chick is good I wonder if she's got a boyfriend").

I hope this puts to rest any lingering doubts as to the identity of the greatest figure skater of all time.

From Trudi Marrapodi (marrapod@binghamton.edu):

Allow me to add to the history of Gor-Tar and Babakuka's children...

First of all, their eldest son, Gor-Tar the Younger. He did not become a skater himself, but because of his sisters' interests in skating he became a devoted spectator. When his sisters complained about the skimpy fur skin costumes they were forced to wear when competing, it occurred to him that he was even colder from sitting on tree stumps watching them. He invented a synthetic fabric from which clothes could be made to keep them all warm. Later, he moved to what is now known as Texas. As a result he earned the nickname "Gor-Tex," and the material he invented still bears his name, slightly misspelled.

Then there were their twin sons, upon both of whom Babakuka, in her post-natal delirium, inadvertently bestowed the same given name, Bry Yan. The older Bry Yan (referred to as Bry Yan Oh because Gor- Tar and Babakuka had "zero" Bry Yans before him) and Bry Yan Bee (so named because he had a fondness for beekeeping) were in constant pitched battle with one another to determine who was king of the pond.

At that time, the mining of precious metals was not yet refined, and skating medals were carved crudely, with primitive implements, out of rocks (this was before people were all walking upright so the effect on their necks and posture was minimal). When the time for the great skating competition came between Bry Yan Oh and Bry Yan Bee, the entire settlement gathered before the pond to watch. In a close call, the judges (all native women with the gift of supernatural understanding) drew marks in the dirt with sticks, threw some leaves over them, muttered an incantation together and awarded first prize to Bry Yan Bee. Bry Yan Oh was not upset until he discovered that his prize rock was gray and not yellow and shiny like his brother's. He promptly used it to conk Bry Yan Bee on the head, thus committing the first murder ever in prehistory. The "battle of the Bry Yans" was such a landmark event that to this day, people still argue over which brother should have won, and still conk each other over the head when arguing it. Someone is always bound to say "Come on! That was how many millions of years ago B.C.??" Doesn't matter. The competition lives for the ages.

In our next installment: Gor-Tar and Babakuka's fraternal twins, the boy and girl Tee and Dee, and how they became the best ice dancers of all time...Also, the story of how their son Ruh De Gahl Indo became a skating champion, despite being an avowed Homo erectus.

From Sandra Loosemore (loosemore-sandra@cs.yale.edu):

Besides Gor-Tar and his descendants, there was also the famous cult of skating founded by the great shaman Toh-Lar, who scorned the prevailing stylistic conventions of his day.

Bored with competing against all the young males who were flailing and thrashing across the ice, one day Toh-Lar tossed his aurochs-and-mammoth-hide footwear into a pond and swore to devote his life to Art. While he spent most of his time engaged in painting colorful scenes on the interior of his solitary cave, occasionally Toh-Lar would emerge to dazzle spectators once again with his ingenious spins and graceful spirals on the ice.

Toh-Lar also occasionally permitted disciples to enter his presence. As a sign of respect for Toh-Lar's great wisdom, all of his disciples dressed themselves in hides and furs dipped in black dye. Ruh De Gahl Indo, after a brief fling of skating with his sister Yah-mah-goo-chee, later became one of the foremost apostles of the Toh-Lar cult.

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