As well as being an obsessed skating fan, I'm also a confirmed bookaholic. My library includes quite a few books about skating, including some that are fairly old. I've scanned some pictures from those books that may be of historical interest to skating fans.
|Sources and Copyright Information|
While all of these books are long out of print, they are still under copyright protection. I consider that my use of the pictures on this web page falls under the "fair use" doctrine, as excerpts used for scholarly or review purposes. I suggest that you don't steal these images for commercial use.
This is one of Spalding's old "Athletic Handbooks" series and appears to be a slight revision of a book originally published in 1910. My copy is a tattered paperback.
This book seems to have been published by a vanity press. It's got a lot of nice B&W pictures of famous skaters of the 20s and 30s as well as technical information about the elements skaters were performing at that time.
This is mostly a gossipy autobiography.
This book is an obvious precursor of the more recent book by John Misha Petkevitch, with stop-frame picture sequences and quite a bit of technical discussion about the physics of jumping and the evolution of the modern jumping style.
|Descriptions of the Pictures|
All of the images are grey-scale GIFs. Some of them are quite large; watch out!
A concept familiar even to modern skaters, but from a cartoon dated November 24th, 1805.
Unless you skate outdoors, you probably don't have this problem. Another early cartoon.
Ulrich Salchow won the world championship 10 times in the years between 1901 and 1911. Nowadays he's remembered as the inventor of the salchow jump. For a skater who rotates counterclockwise, a salchow is a jump that takes off from the left back inside edge and lands on the right back outside edge.
Heinrich Burger and Anna Hubler, world pair skating champions in 1908 and 1910, demonstrate the state-of-the-art in their field, including a daring death spiral and lift!
The early days of ice dancing. I think they'd have less trouble if the lady weren't wearing such a giant hat! I can't identify her underneath it, but the gentleman is Irving Brokaw.
Charlotte (Oelschlagel) was a famous professional skater in the years after WWI -- she was the first female star of skating as show business. In this picture she is doing the "dying swan" routine that has been copied by many other skaters since then.
Grafstrom was a three-time Olympic champion, and also won the world championship in 1922, 1924, and 1929. He has the reputation of being one of the best skaters of compulsory figures ever, and was known especially for his fine carriage and graceful flow while executing them. You can see that in this picture, where he's doing a back outside loop.
This picture shows Sonja Henie as a child. She was only 10 years old when she competed in the 1924 Olympics. She finished last there, but Henie went on to win the first of her 10 world titles in 1927.
Because Henie was so young, she was able to get away with wearing short skirts which were then acceptable attire only for little girls. Adult women skaters at this time still wore their skirts below the knee, but when Henie continued to wear short skirts even after she'd grown up other women skaters followed her example. Henie also set the fashion for wearing white boots; in this picture she's still wearing black ones, though.
Here's Sonja Henie as an adult, doing her version of the dying swan. Just to show you that everything old is new again, here's a review of Henie's 1936 professional debut, as written by Maribel Vinson (1936 Olympic bronze medallist from the US) for the New York Times:
The crowd settled quickly into a receptive mood for Sonja's famous interpretation of the Dying Swan of Saint-Saens. With spotlights giving the ice the effect of water at night, Miss Henie, outlined in a blue light, performed the dance made immortal by Pavlova.Thanks to Kathy Godfrey (firstname.lastname@example.org) for digging up this quote.
Whether one agrees that such posturing is suited to the medium of ice, there is no doubt that Miss Henie's rendition is a lovely thing. Too much toe work at the start leaves the feeling that this does not belong to skating, but when she glides effortlessly back and forth, she is free as a disembodied spirit and there is an ease of movement that ballet never can produce.
Willy Boeckl was the world champion between 1925 and 1928. In this picture, he's performing a Boeckl jump, which is nowadays more commonly called an inside axel. A skater who jumps counterclockwise would do this jump from a right forward inside edge and land on a right backward outside edge, performing one and a half rotations in the air.
Boeckl's air position looks very strange because the style of jumping used back then was radically different from that used today. Nowadays skaters jump up first and then pull in to do the rotations quickly at the height of the jump, but in the old days skaters would begin to rotate even before they got off the ground and maintain more or less the same rotational speed throughout the entire approach, jump, and landing. You also see this style of jumping in Sonja Henie's movies -- her axel jumps look more like sloppy flying camels than the way skaters perform axels today.
Karl Schafer was world champion in the years between 1930 and 1936, and one of the first skaters to perform double jumps. He was also one of the first skaters to start to pay attention to choreography and music interpretation.
In this picture, it looks like he's just doing a spiral. In the pre-war years, competitive skating programs contained many more long spirals and spread eagles -- sometimes traversing the entire area of the rink several times -- than are common today.
Cecelia Colledge was the 1937 world champion and is credited with inventing the camel and layback spins, as well as being the first woman to perform a double jump. She's doing a spiral in this picture.
When skating competitions resumed after WWII, suddenly skaters all over the world had adopted the new delayed-rotation style of jumping, and double jumps -- which were virtually unknown in the pre-war years -- became commonplace. Dick Button was at the forefront of the jumping revolution, becoming the first person to perform a double axel (in 1948) and a triple loop (in 1952).
This is a stop-frame sequence of Button performing a triple loop. You can see he gets spectacular height on the jump although his air position could be a little tighter.
Dick Button also invented the flying camel spin, which was called the "Button camel" back in those days. Flying spins of any type were completely unknown in the pre-war years.
Although other skaters had practiced triple axels before then, Gordie McKellen was the first skater to attempt them in public performances. He landed at least one in exhibition in 1974. (I think this stop-frame sequence was filmed in a practice session at the 1974 world championships.) A triple axel wasn't landed in competition until Vern Taylor did it in 1978.
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