Exploring The Collections: Protocols

Every Skate Guard blog that is put together draws 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. This year, I thought it would be fun to give you a bit of a 'behind the scenes' look at the Skate Guard Collections, which include books, magazines, VHS tapes, show and competition programs, photographs and many other items. 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 about protocols. Historically, after every major ISU Championship, a summary of the results as approved by the referee has been made available shortly afterwards. Thanks to the generosity of BIS Historian Elaine Hooper, there are at this time a dozen of these protocols in the Skate Guard collections, spanning from the fifties to the seventies. These booklets are brimming with useful information. A time schedule of the events, the size of the ice surface used, the weather conditions for each phase of the competition (if outdoors) is always included. In singles, the school figures drawn are listed and in ice dance, the compulsory dances drawn are stated. There are also, of course, detailed results and ordinals (and on some occasions the actual marks given), the names of the officials and podium photos. 

When you look at these protocols, you'll really get a more detailed picture as to the judging of each international competition than you would if you popped a competition into the Google. As an example, the protocol for the pairs event at the 1950 World Championships in London tells us, "Originally the 7th and 9th places were transposed. The correct result above for the 7th place is arrived at by the application of Rule 314 para 4 concerning the lower total of place numbers when the majority of more than one competitor are equal. The 8th and 9th places are decided by absolute majorities under Rule 314 para 1." 

In terms of historical research, protocols are valuable because they were the approved, official results of each competition at the time. Unfortunately, due to 'the telephone game', incorrect competition results are sometimes shared on the internet. Going back to the original, primary sources ensures us that we are 'getting it right' when we look back at a competition that occurred thirty or forty years ago through a modern lens. 

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 figure skating reference books "The Almanac of Canadian Figure Skating", "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps" and "A Bibliography of Figure Skating": https://skateguard1.blogspot.com/p/buy-book.html.