Better Late Than Never: A Reader Mail Edition

There's nothing I enjoy more than rolling up my sleeves, digging deep in the archives and putting together the puzzle pieces to share stories from ice skating history from all around the world. Well, maybe there's one thing I love more... and that is hearing how these stories speak to the people who are reading them. Over the last year, I have received countless e-mails, messages on Twitter, Facebook and Blogger. In today's blog - which is so long overdue it is not even fit - I want to once again answer some of your questions and share with you a small sampling of reader mail, many connected to several of the blogs in the archives and some relating to topics that haven't even been covered:


Q: From Alex (via Twitter): "How do you find the time to do all of this?"

A: I'm passionate about researching and writing about this topic so I make time. I am actually both an early riser and a pretty bad insomniac so it's a great way to pass time on early weekend mornings! Honestly though, I'll let you and everyone else reading in on a little secret. Some weeks I'll put together seven blogs; some one or two. I always make a point of having content ready months in advance so I can pop three of these bad boys out each week... and I never seem to run out of ideas!

Q: From Janet (via Facebook): "Would you ever consider writing about roller skating history?"

A: In short, no. I've touched on roller skating here and there as the histories of ice and roller skating are actually quite intertwined in many respects... but unless there's a distinct ice skating connection I usually steer as clear as I can. It's just not my thing.

Q: From Jens (via Facebook): "Are you still working on your biography of Belita Jepson-Turner?"

A: I'm not... because it's finished! I deliberated for a long time about having it printed in book form but I ran into a couple of challenges. For starters, money. Writing about skating history is a labour of love for me and if I had Belita's story put into book form, I'd be financing the whole thing myself and dealing with copyright issues, which are really murky and complicated when it comes to many of the films that Belita appeared in for Monogram Pictures. Keeping in the spirit of making skating history accessible to everyone, I'll be releasing the Belita biography free of charge on Skate Guard either in serial form or as a one-shot deal this summer.


Mae (via email): "You see one that looks like a little house surrounded by seating... this little house is where Hitler sat to watch the games."


Zdenka (via Facebook): "Mrs. Hilda Múdra was 90 (!) in January [2016]. She looks great at this age. And her health is good too. I was also invited to celebrate her birthday with one of figure skaters club in Bratislava. It took place at Štadión Ondreja Nepela. See the photo."


David (via Blogger): "The main problem with Blyth Arena was the open south side that allowed sunlight to land on portions of the ice. This created differing surface conditions between shaded and unshaded parts of the ice sheet. The organizers attempted to mitigate this by hanging vertical ropes to block the sun but it was only partially successful."

Jill (via Facebook): "Oh goodness, at fifteen years old, I was just star struck! I just remember North Americans being removed as a competition because they came in between Nationals and Worlds, and in an Olympic year, just too many competitions for the skaters to "peak" for. Don't forget back in 1957, the travelling was not as sophisticated as it is now. Also, very expensive for parents to pay for all these events - the funding was very minimal back then."

Dr. Roman Seeliger (via email): "I have read your wonderful article about the world-class figure skater Jiřina Nekolová. Let me add that Jiřina became a member of the Vienna Ice Revue in the fall of 1954, replacing my mother Eva Pawlik who had just left the show in order to pass her final exams and to earn her doctorate of philosophy at the University of Vienna. After graduating in December 1954, Pawlik and my father Rudi Seeliger were starring in the German Scala Ice Revue from 1955 to 1957, replacing the 1936 Olympic runners-up Ilse and Erik Pausin who became the leading couple in the show of Holiday on Ice. Jiřina Nekolová was a symbol of eroticism on the ice as many a contemporary witness has told me. When the show had its appearances behind the Iron Curtain, Nekolová had to be replaced by Austrian Champion Lotte Schwenk. Otherwise Nekolová could have been prevented from going back to the (political) west. During the time Jiřina belonged to the Vienna Ice Revue company an ice skating movie was produced. After "Frühling auf dem Eis" (produced with Olympic Silver Medalist Eva Pawlik in 1950) "Symphonie in Gold", produced in 1956, was the second movie featuring the Vienna Ice Revue. As you have mentioned, Jiřina was presented in this movie alongside Emmy Puzinger and Fernand Leemans (both European bronze medalists as single skaters). Jirina also got a small role in the frame story. In 1957, Jiřina Nekolová left the Vienna Ice Revue as European Champion Hanna Eigel had her first appearance as a professional skater. In 1958, European Champion Ingrid Wendl joined the company. In 1958, European Champion Eva Pawlik and Austrian Champion Rudi Seeliger, having been succeeded by Olympic Champions Sissy Schwarz and Kurt Oppelt in the Scala Eisrevue, had their comeback in the Vienna Ice Revue. So the Vienna Ice Revue presented three European Champions in one show from 1958 to 1960. These three ladies were presented in the Vienna Ice Revue's third movie ("Traumrevue", produced in 1959)."


Sharon (via Facebook): "Wait!! you left out the Peggy Fleming bun!!! I once sat for hours when I was little while the older girls staying at Hawly's Lodge in Lake Placid pinned my hair into a similar one and threaded ribbons through it!"

Dana (via Facebook): "My mother did Aja Zanova's hair one year when she came to town with Ice Capades. She thought mom did such a great job, she arranged for her the following year as well."


Andrea (via Facebook): "Fascinating! After reading your article I searched around and found this curious blog. It is dedicated to the 226 incident AND figure skating in the 1930's....One Miss Tamako Togo, granddaughter of Vice Admiral Togo of the Russo-Japanese war, was a member of the Tokyo Figure Skating Club that trained at the hotel. The blogger claims her presence, and that of her friends, was the reason the 2.26 officers holed up."


Deanne (via e-mail): "Taters Gonna Tate....speaking of happenstance (& Google!), I came across your blog and your story from Scotland about Jimmy Best, Margaret Young and Sheena Balfour. Well Sheena is my mother and I was so amazed to read all this... My mother went on to be Scottish Figure Skating champion for 3 consecutive years and married a Canadian ice hockey player, Harold (Pep) Young from Montreal... My father played ice hockey in London for Earls Court Rangers before moving to Scotland to play for Fife Flyers. Through ebay I found some old programmes from his days at Earls Court, he really enjoyed reading these, they were quite a find. I also purely by chance found an ice skating programme from when my mother competed in the British Championships in London! My parents were quite the local celebrities in their day!

Figure skating was very popular in Kirkcaldy in the 1940s and 1950s and my mother, Margaret and Jimmy took part in many 'Ice Capades' in Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline. Mum has a lovely album of programmes and photos from these times. My mother is in her eighties and sadly has little memory now, my Dad passed away on 29th January 2014...  It was so amazing to read this story in your blog, big goosebumps!!! Thank you!!"


Steven (via Facebook): "We live 1/2 block from the family home in which the senior Inge had installed the infamous basement skating rink. The property has been abandoned for of the early homes in this community. It was not sold since the estate would have taken a financial hit on the sale. Her passing is probably the reason for the sale. It is going to be torn down. It is not a pretty home but it has history. Mr Inge died tragically in the home... Adele would later develop her golf game and played competitively with a Normandy Golf Course local team... she played for years. Always the athlete."

Dale's eBay find: a collection of Adele Inge's blades, the "Calendar Capers" program and a framed photograph

Dale (via Facebook): "I knew nothing about her, until I stumbled onto the eBay auction and bought them for $19. The seller just said it came from an estate sale possibly a family relation of Adele's."

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":