Figure Skating Hodge Podge, Volume 3

As autumn creeped in the last two years, I introduced you to a Nova Scotian classic: hodge podge.  If you've never had a proper bowl of hodge podge, you don't know what you're missing. It's a traditional Nova Scotian fall dish that uses nothing but the freshest harvest vegetables. It just warms your soul and I'm craving it already by just mentioning it.

Here in Atlantic Canada, we use the expression "hodge podge" to describe anything that's got a little bit of everything. Figure skating constantly evolves and changes that much that it's not always easy to keep track of all of the developments, stories and (sometimes) dramas that develop along the way. I've had several topics that I'd been wanting to write about for quite a while that all seemed to have two common denominators. For one, they are all tales that many people may not know or if they did, might not remember. Secondly, they don't all really have enough material to constitute a full blog of their own. Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for a tour of compelling stories with a skating connection... an a delicious 6.0 finish:


Every so often I like to throw in a little update on a blog I have already written and in this case I wanted to start things off with an addition to the October 2013 blog "Winter Sports Without The Winter: Skating In Africa". The Ikeja City Mall in Lagos, Nigeria now plays host to the Philorem Ice Skating Arena. A January 2015 interview with Mrs. Ojikutu, the rink's owner, explained that the inspiration from the rink came from the growing popularity of ice skating in Dubai and that "traffic has been quite impressive. We started three months ago and we've been experiencing great turn out, especially from schools. They come for excursions and recreation. In fact, at weekends, this place is always as clumsy as markets. On Sundays too, we open here after 11 AM. I mean after church services... My future plan for the business is to expand it to other malls across the country and also finally get to our own site to operate." The true growth of skating internationally never ceases to amaze me and I wish our Nigerian skating friends so much luck in getting things off the ground!


I wish I could tell you this is a happy tale but it's far from it. Della Beyak was a twenty one year old figure skater and avid Ukrainian dancer. She was also a constable with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and sadly was the first female RCMP officer to die in the line of duty after only nine months on the job. On March 15, 1989 near Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, Constable Beyak responded to a call for assistance at a car crash in the middle of a bad snowstorm. Trying to pass a slow-moving transport truck that was blinding her with snow on the highway, Beyak collided head on with the coroner who had just left the scene of a car accident. An ambulance leaving the scene collided with both vehicles as well. Both Beyak and the coroner were killed and the ambulance driver suffered serious injuries.


Although the luck of the blarney stone didn't come into fruition for Irish figure skaters until 1980, when the country's first permanent ice rink was built in Dublin, that certainly didn't mean people weren't skating. According to Kim Bielenberg, Liz Kearney, and John Meagher's article "Ireland 1914: suffragettes, ice-skating in the park and a country on the brink of war", skating proved popular as a social activity on the Emerald Isle in the early twentieth century. Bielenberg, Kearney and Meagher state that in 1914 "Ireland was hit by freezing weather at start of the year as blizzards raged across the country. In Dublin, people skated across the ponds in Phoenix Park". Irish eyes might have been smiling, but Irish legs were apparently keeping warm with figure eights. We'll take a further look at Irish skating history topics in a future Skate Guard blog!


As if the story of Adolf Hitler's skates wasn't macabre enough, The Virtual Ice Skates Museum came into the possession of Hitler's right hand man's skates. Hermann Göring, who committed suicide by taking a cyanide pill while in custody following his sentencing at the Nuremberg Trials, was only second to Hitler himself in terms of power in Nazi Germany. It would also appear he was a skater. The museum's online website states that "any collector once find a couple of objects of which he does not know how to judge them. That feeling also exists with a pair of English ice skates made by I. Sorby, Sheffield. On both platforms the signature of Hermann Göring can be seen as well as two impressions made with a dry stamp showing the German eagle with swastika." Horrifically, one skater's actions would prove directly responsible for the death of countless others, including Anne Frank. Göring and Hitler wouldn't be the only high ranking Nazi's with a skating connection either... Heinrich Himmler skated too. Katrin Himmler's book "The Himmler Brothers" provides this quote from a letter to Himmler's mother confirming Heinrich and his brother Gebhard skated too: "On 2 and 3 November - the semester had only just begun - the brothers wrote their first joint letter home. First of all Gebhard: 'we would both like our ice-skates together with the keys now; so it should get really cold and we have time we'd like to have our skates here. So if you would, Mummy dear, put them in the next parcel.'" Photos of Sonja Henie exist showing her receiving congratulations from Hitler, Göring and Himmler, so they must have all been skating fans even if they were despicable people.


After writing about The Regent's Park Tragedy and other such less than happy stories from skating history where skaters on outdoor lakes, ponds and rivers had drowned from falling through the ice, learning about Dr. F.C. Eve's medical contributions to the resuscitation of the drowned seemed a fascinating and related story... considering the good doctor himself was also a skater. To give you a little background on who F.C. Eve was, I want to start with a quote from one of his friends. In the December 20, 1952 edition of "The Journal" Dr. Peter C. McKinlay remembered the then late Dr. Eve in the following way: "to visit him was a mental exercise, made all the more pleasant by his unfailing courtesy, courage and quiet sense of humour." Much like Tenley Albright (another talented skater who later became a doctor, Eve devoted his time tirelessly to his work in the medical field and research. As explained earlier though, much of his work - which was quite revolutionary at the time - centered around artificial respiration.

He invented something called the 'rocking method', a form of resuscitation that he believed was less tiring on the person performing it, easier on the victim and requiring less skill than the Schafer method of revival popular at the time. In Eve's method, a drowning victim was tied to a board and essentially rocked back and forth over a pile of rocks to allow water to escape from the lungs. An article from the July 1946 edition of "Popular Science" explained that "the rocking ventilates the lungs by alternately pushing and pulling the diaphragm up and down. At the same time, blood is forced through the oxygen-starved heart muscle, helping to start it or restore a feeble beat. Further, the nerve cells of the brain and breathing center receive blood at normal pressure. When the feet-down tilt is made, blood from the extended arms fills the heart and encourages it to beat and pump... Experiments have shown that the Eve method, with a 30-degree rock, produced an average intake of 150 cubic centimeters of air at each inhalation as against 55 c.c.'s under the Schafer method." In his May 1, 1943 article in the "British Medical Journal", Eve was cognisant of the challenges his method posed: "the trouble with apparatus for the rocking method is that it may not be at hand when needed; but in a ship, a stretcher which can be rocked could be instantly available." Eve pointed out success stories using examples of ships that did have a stretcher available to perform his method... and the lives that it saved. His skating connection? His obituary explains that Eve "had many interests outside his profession and was a keen golfer, tennis player, and trout-fisher and he won a silver medal for figure-skating." Although his rocking method for reviving drowning victims gained traction mostly on ships as opposed to being used to treat victims of pleasure swimming related drownings, one has to ponder how many lives this good doctor could have saved had he been among his fellow skaters in Regent's Park. 


Sop up what's left with some nice hearty bread and be sure to double or triple up so that you have leftovers... this is always better the second day! This recipe is for four to six people:

Ingredients (fresh from a farmer's market or garden):

10-12 new potatoes – scrubbed/not peeled, and halved – quarter any large potatoes, and don't cut the small ones – you want the potato pieces to be about the same size
2-3 cups chopped new carrots – scrubbed/not peeled, cut into bite sized pieces (you can peel them if you like)
1 cup chopped yellow beans – 1 inch long pieces
1 cup chopped green beans – 1 inch long pieces
1 cup shelled pod peas – you want just the peas, not the pods
1.5 cups cream
1/4 – 1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. Fill a large, heavy pot about halfway with water, and salt lightly (about 1/2 teaspoon of salt). Bring to a boil.
2. Add the potatoes to the boiling water. Cook for about seven minutes.
3. Add the carrots to the pot, and continue cooking for about seven minutes.
4. Next add the yellow and green beans to the pot, and continue cooking for about five minutes.
5. Finally, add the peas, and continue cooking for about three minutes.
6. Drain off most of the water – leave about an inch of water (no more) in the bottom of the pot with the vegetables. Return the pot to the stove, and reduce burner heat to low. Add the cream and butter, and some salt and pepper (I start with a 1/4 teaspoon of each).
7. Gently stir to combine, allowing the the blend and butter to heat through. As you’re stirring, the potatoes might break up a bit. As the the blend and butter heat through, the broth may begin to thicken. This is normal. Don’t allow the mixture to boil.
8. Once the mixture has heated through, it is ready to serve. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste. Serve with bread.

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":