Please explore the tabs below to learn the history of The Skating Club of Boston®. Each tab highlights a different category of the Club’s past and its influence on figure skating in the United States.
The Club, established in 1912, has organized two World Championships on behalf of the International Skating Union and two U.S. Championships on behalf of the United States Figure Skating Association, more in a few short years than at any other time in its history. Let us hope that the Club will, in the future, continue to organize as it has in the past, New England Regional and Eastern Sectional championships, by which its competitors seek to qualify for the U.S. Championships. In fact the Club founded the New England Championships in 1943, which became the Regional competition in 1949. It will again hold that championship in 2018, continuing its leadership in the organizing of the Regional and Sectional championships in New England for the benefit of all the clubs in the Region. It also undertook to find land and to plan for a new multi-rink facility. The first of these projects was at Lincoln Street in Brighton, through an exchange of property with Harvard University. The second was in Norwood, which was eventually cancelled due to unacceptable controls on the use of the property imposed by the developer. At the present time, the Club continues to search for a suitable site inside Route 128.
Early in 2017, the Club closed on a sale of its adjoining property known as 1234 Soldiers Field Road, which has on it the Day’s Inn Motel, as a long term lessee. Proceeds from the sale will be used to support the acquisition of a new facility.
The Early Years
The year 2012 was the 100th Anniversary of The Skating Club of Boston, making it the third oldest skating club in continuous existence in U.S. Figure Skating after the Philadelphia Skating Club & Humane Society in 1849 and its neighbor across the river, the Cambridge Skating Club in 1898. The Club has a great figure skating history and heritage, of which every member can be justly proud. The Club was founded by an enthusiastic group of Boston skaters, informally known as the “Back Bay Skating Club,” who had shared skating out of doors at various sites in the Boston area, including especially Hammond’s Pond in Chestnut Hill. A few years before, in 1908 at the Cambridge Skating Club, under the direction of George H. Browne, the headmaster of the Browne & Nichols School, the first exhibition in the International Style of skating, so called to distinguish it from the then prevailing American Style, was held in the United States. The “American Style”, was a combination of the English Style and the International Style which followed it, with the emphasis on a rigid upright position and especially of special figures, intricate designs etched into the ice surface without regard to the body position. The “International Style”, was a continuation and expansion of the Viennese Style after the time of the American Jackson Haines there. It was a flowing style in which movement across the ice was as important as the accuracy of the figures traced on ice surface. It included elements of the dance and music soon became an integral part of its performance.
Mr. Browne, a pioneer judge, amateur teacher and also an active member of the Club, by his extensive writings and research abroad, brought the word about the “New Style”, as he called it, back to Boston. Developed in Europe, as part of the legacy left by Haines, the style is, of course, now universally recognized throughout the world. It was in the Boston area that the “New Skating”, as it was then known locally, was first demonstrated, by the leading skaters from both Boston and New York, and especially Irving Brokaw of the latter city, who were invited to other United States and Canadian cities to give exhibitions and to instruct the local enthusiasts in the new form of skating.
The New Style (which has since been known as the International Style) had great local appeal and it was soon apparent that a club was needed formally to organize the practice of it on indoor ice. The building of the first Boston Arena in 1909, one of the first indoor artificial ice surfaces in the United States, gave skating a great boost and the era of “modern” figure skating began.
With good ice available regardless of weather, Boston skaters under the leadership of George Atkinson, Jr., formed The Skating Club of Boston in 1911 and incorporated it in April 1912. Charter members of the founding group included Mr. Atkinson, who was the first President, and A. Winsor Weld, the second President, whose daughter Theresa and her partner Nathaniel W. Niles were the leading local exponents of the New Style. While the Club was actually formed in 1911, the year of incorporation (1912) has been used on its seal and as the starting date for its anniversary milestones.
Charles M. Rotch, who was elected the third President of the Club in 1924, held that office for 25 years until 1949, and thereafter served as Chairman of the Board of Governors until his death in 1964. No history of the Club would be complete without paying tribute to Mr. Rotch’s long and meritorious service to skating and to the Club. Mr. Rotch was always progressive in outlook, skillful in the handling of intricate problems, diplomatic in his dealings with others and always kindly and considerate to everyone with whom he came in contact. Under his leadership and during his presidency, all the dreams of the earlier years, including the building of the Club’s own rink, were fulfilled. Mr. Rotch also played a leading role in the promotion of international participation in the sport, as well as in guiding the activities of the U.S. Figure Skating, twice as its President and as a long-time World and Olympic Championship Referee and Judge.
Homes of the Club
Today, having been so long at 1240 Soldiers Field Road in its own rink, it has been forgotten where the Club skated during the prior years. The Club founders from the “Back Bay Skating Club” had skated chiefly on Hammond’s Pond in Chestnut Hill (outdoors, of course). With the building of the first Boston Arena in 1909, one of the first artificial ice surfaces in the United States, the Back Bay skaters quickly formed the Club to take advantage of the good ice available without regard to weather (indoors, of course).
The Club happily skated on a regular basis at the Arena from its beginning up to World War I, when supplies of fuel (coal) became limited. But it was the destruction by fire of the first Boston Arena in 1918 which caused the first hiatus in the activities of the Club. In an effort to bridge the gap and the loss of the Arena ice, the Club obtained ice at a small (what we would call a studio rink today) rink in Cambridge near MIT on Massachusetts Avenue. The ‘Ice Pavilion’, as it was called, was created by some of the more affluent members of the Club, and there were even hockey games held there, despite the small size of the surface. After the absence of indoor ice in 1918-1919 due to the effects of the War and the one short season in the Ice Pavilion (1919-1920), the Arena was rebuilt on the same site and reopened in 1920 as the ”New Boston Arena”, with the Club returning to it, to remain there until 1938. During the period when there was no ice, the members of the Club had been accorded the courtesies of the outdoor ice at The Country Club in Brookline, Mr. Winsor Weld, the Club President, also being the Secretary and later the President of The Country Club.
In 1938, the Club moved from the second Boston Arena to its own building on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton. This happy event was the result of careful planning during the 1930s, including the marshaling of the proceeds from the very successful carnivals held in that era at the Boston Garden. These successes led to the purchase of land in the spring of 1938 and the immediate construction of the new rink that summer, leading to the official opening on New Year’s Day 1939.
In all projects of this kind, there is always one person who is the driving force, and in Gordon Glazier, the Club found that person. Actively involved in the Club as a result of the participation of his two daughters Dorothy and Leslie in competition, Mr. Glazier saw the project to completion. Another fortuitous circumstance was that the Club persuaded Richard L. Hapgood, a long-time Board member and the Club Treasurer, to serve as the Managing Governor, thereby establishing the operation of the new building on a sound financial basis at the outset and prior to World War II.
Even today, of the many member clubs in U.S. Figure Skating, very few own their own facilities, a tribute to the farsightedness of the energetic effort to establish the Club’s own rink. It is hard to believe that the Club rink is now 79 years old, and is the today second oldest rink in the city after the first indoor home of the club, the Boston Arena, now the Matthews Arena of Northeastern University.
The present building, with its design of structural steel arches and curving roof, sometimes referred to after World War II as a “Quonset Hut”, is recognized today among architects and engineers as unique, as it was the first building of its kind in which the load on the arches was directed straight downward onto spread footings, with no tie rods being required for obvious reasons. It was built in 1938 at a cost of $180,000, not including the club house, which was added a year later at a cost of $ 50,000. The groundbreaking in August was carried out by Miss Joan Tozzer, then the National Ladies Champion, who also was officially the first person on the ice when the rink opened on January 1, 1939.
As originally built, the rink was open only during the normal ‘season’ (Fall to Spring) and there was no summer skating until 1969. The original ‘floor’ was a concrete slab, with the pipes for circulating the refrigerant embedded in it. When problems of frost penetration into the ground arose, which were also complicated by an underground spring towards the Western Avenue end of the ice surface, the original surface was taken up and replaced with a second surface in 1967. Other major changes in the plant have included the addition of another compressor, a cooling tower and the replacement of several of the essential heat-exchangers in the system. Two of the original slow-speed Frick compressors are still operating well after all these years.
With the advent of summer skating, the problems of frost and heaving of the floor became more severe and the second floor did not survive long, being removed in 1973. That year, while the floor was being repaired, the Club rented ice time at the Dexter School in Chestnut Hill. Today the floor is sand, with the pipes resting in it, so that a fairly thick layer of ice must be maintained in order to support the weight of the ice resurfacing machine. The Club actually had one of the earliest Zamboni ice resurfacing machines, but the problems of the exhaust from its gasoline engine and the risk of carbon monoxide accumulation in the rink prompted the decision in 1996 to go to the much heavier and more expensive, but vastly superior machine with a non-polluting electric drive.
Then in 1993 came a major crisis, when it was necessary to replace the roof of the entire building for the first time in its history. Originally of wood (Douglas fir), the roof had absorbed moisture for years and essentially had rotted away in many places. It was replaced with a galvanized steel roof, inside which there is now a “low e-ceiling”, which is a fabric that looks like parachute silk and which serves as an insulating layer and reduces condensation. With a loan from the Fleet Bank, this task was completed expeditiously during that summer, with the Club renting temporary ice at the rink of the then Metropolitan District Commission in East Cambridge, somewhat reminiscent of its temporary stay near MIT in 1919-1920!
Also inside the roof can now be seen many small panels hanging in rows lengthwise, which act as sound baffles, to reduce the reverberation time inside the rink. This greatly improves the quality of the music played constantly through the day for a variety of purposes, including practice and competition. In 2000, banners were installed on each end of the rink listing the many World, Olympic and National Senior champions from the Club.
Finally, in 2012 , after many years of effort led by President Joseph Blount, a formal plan for the building of a new facility was initiated. Following lengthy negotiations with Harvard University, a “land swap” was agreed to which contemplated the exchange of the existing club property on Soldiers Field Road for a larger parcel owned by Harvard on Lincoln Street in Brighton, on which three surfaces could be built. As noted above, this project did not come to completion.
The Skating Club of Boston’s iconic logo was designed by longtime Club member, Clara Rotch Frothingham, in 1940. The etchings represent the tracings left in the ice when skating the required figures in the 8th and final compulsory figure test. The specific figures included are paragraph loops, paragraph double three (turns), and paragraph brackets. These figures were performed in 12 different configurations, representing skating the figures with both backward and forward edges. The paragraph level of a compulsory figure was the most difficult as it required skating both circles of the figure on one foot before coming back to center for a new push-off. A perfect compulsory figure was completed on a full edge, with no ‘flats” or time spent on the middle of the skate blade. Perfect turns had no flats edges, and required the change of edge, from inside to outside or outside to inside, to be at the exact top point of the turn. The figures needed to be laid out on clean ice, with circles perfectly shaped, edges lined up, clean “centers” where the circles met, and the multiple tracings of each figure leaving as close to one tracing as possible in the ice. Skating compulsory figures required discipline, focus, and mastery of the skating edge and skater form.
Compulsory figures were an important original component of figure skating, and represented 20% of the total score in competitive figure skating. They were eliminated from competitive skating in 1988. They are only rarely practiced today. The Club’s logo is an important part of skating history and helps ensure that the art and science of compulsory figures are not completely lost to future generations of skaters.
Among those who have served as managers of the rink over the years, following the departure of Richard Hapgood for the Army in 1942, have been Emery Baker and Bob Birks, both of whom “came out of the engine room”, as it were, where they had started as stationary engineers. Probably the longest serving employee, who also ran the first skate shop, was the late Gordon Kendall, who was well known throughout the area as being a “wizard,” both in the making of ice and in the sharpening of skates. Others who have served for many years in running the plant have included Bill Danner, and his son Paul. There have also been faithful and long-term employees in the office, among them and fondly remembered are Mary Brosnan, Florence Duncan , Marion McIsaac and Aaron Williams, while Marion Hogan also served as the office manager. Starting in 1997 the Club also employed a Club Manager, in the person of Sharon Molino, who served nine years in the position and Colleen O’Brien, serving as Club Director and other positions for more than 16 years.
In 2010, acting on the advice of an outside management consultant, the Club made the decision to add the paid position of Executive Director to its leadership team. As a result, Doug Zeghibe was hired in December of that year. Doug’s family has been members of the Club since 1966, and Doug grew up skating at the Club as both a recreational and competitive skater. Since leaving the Club as a young skater, Doug pursued degrees at both Harvard (BA) and Stanford (MBA) and entered the skating field professionally in 1995. In addition to producing numerous live theatrical skating shows and broadcast productions, before relocation to Boston from Southern California, Doug built organizations and successfully produced five US Skating (National) Championships and the 2009 ISU World Championships. Since Doug has been in Boston, he has continued to exercise his extraordinary leadership in the organizing of the 2012 US Figure Skating Synchronized Team Skating Championships in Worcester, the 2013 ISU World Synchronized Team Skating Championships in Boston at Agganis Arena of Boston University, the 2014 US Figure Skating Championships in Boston and the 2016 ISU World Championships, also in Boston, both at the TD Garden, a remarkable and most successful record. In his role as Executive Director, Doug has built a professional management organization with the purpose of supporting and managing a skating facility more than triple in size to the Club’s existing venue at 1240 Soldiers Field Road in Brighton.
The Club’s management team now includes a finance department, a web and social media group, a Skating Academy management team, a separate management team for the year-round operation of the of the Boston Common Frog Pond, and a director for the Club’s satellite operation in Foxboro, MA. Other management efficiencies have also been introduced , including combining the responsibilities for the building facility and the Club office under the management of the Club Director position , and adding the positions of Assistant Club Manager and Membership Director to better support the needs of the Club’s growing membership. While the overhead for Club management has grown, its annual revenue has also grown from Skating Academy growth, the addition of the Frog Pond and the growth of the Club membership. It is also now much better positioned to manage the planned home facility, and to secure the financing necessary to help underwrite the development of the new facility.
No activity of the Club has been more important through the years or has done more to preserve the unity and homogeneity of the Club membership than the annual carnival. The Club was the first to present a complete ice carnival in the new style to the public, doing so initially in 1911 before the Club was formally incorporated, with the beginning of its long line of charity-related shows was presented.
The Club also presented the first U.S. Figure Skating joint carnival in 1924, and repeated in 1925 and 1926, in cooperation with the New York and Philadelphia clubs. These shows helped establish public recognition of figure skating in exhibition as organized public entertainment.
In 1934, the Club’s carnival “The Cruise of the S.S. Arena”, became a major production, starring Sonja Henie and Karl Schäfer, then the reigning World and Olympic champions. The next few years saw more carnival ‘spectaculars’ on the same grand scale, culminating in the shows of 1937, 1938 and 1939, which played before capacity houses at Boston Garden. In fact, when Sonja Henie made her professional debut in Boston in 1936, the Club “revived” the carnival for that year, which had already been held and put on one more performance as a backdrop for Sonja. A feature of these carnivals in the late 1930s was the extension of invitations to the established foreign stars, with the expenses being shared among the major East Coast clubs, so that a modest “tour” was created. Included among them were Karl Schäfer again, making his professional debut in 1937, his successor as World champion, Felix Kaspar of Austria in 1938, and Freddy Tomlins and Daphne Walker of Great Britain in 1939. Freddy and Daphne were then World Championship silver medalists for that year. The revenues from these carnivals greatly enlarged the Club treasury and provided the basis for proceeding with the building of the Club’s own rink in 1938.
Competition from the big professional touring shows, first the Ice Follies in 1936 and later the Ice Capades in 1940, which were largely modeled upon the ideas developed by the Boston, New York and Toronto club carnivals, began to be seriously felt in the years just before World War II. For several years during the War years, the Club held smaller and simpler shows at its own rink, although the 1947 show there was an outstanding one, featuring Dick Button, then the World Silver medalist and the brother comedy act of Gil and Tuffy McKellen (the latter the father of Gordy McKellen, a National champion). In 1948, the Club once more ventured into the field of large carnivals with a production again at the Boston Arena, returning to Boston Garden the next year. However, a huge budget and tremendous ticket sales were necessary to present a show in a major arena, and the last carnival at the original Boston Garden ( later torn down and subsequently replaced with what was first called the “Fleet Center” and is now called the “TD Garden”) was held in 1960, except for the special performance in 1961 for the benefit of the World Team Memorial Fund. In more recent years, the carnival has been held at the Walter Brown Arena of Boston University, until 1996 when the carnival was returned to Matthews Arena of Northeastern University, which is in fact the former New Boston Arena, the home of the Club between 1920 and 1938. The carnival returned once again to the Brown Arena in 2004. In 2006 the Club was invited by Harvard University to hold the carnival, which has been known as “Ice Chips” since just after World War II in 1946, at Bright Arena, a venue also used by the Club up to 2010 through its sponsorship of the “Skatefest” series of exhibitions for the benefit of the Salvation Army.
Today, the carnival is probably the only major club carnival in the country which competed with the touring professional shows and the more recent phenomenon of the touring shows (really a series of exhibitions), including the tour of World and Olympic champions run by Tom Collins and in more recent times, “Stars on Ice”, originally created by Scott Hamilton. The 2012 Ice Chips show was in fact the 100th since the beginning. Ice Chips continues to serve a vital role of introducing the rising stars on the international scene to the American public, while at the same time demonstrating that figure skating can be a family sport, participated in by all ages. The names of the great stars that have appeared in the carnival are legion ! Among them have been, before World War II, Gillis Grafström, Sonja Henie, Karl Schäfer, Andrée and Pierre Brunet, Maxi Herber and Ernst Baier, Olympic champions all, and Cecilia Colledge and Felix Kaspar, World champions.
Since the War, among those that have appeared include Dick Button, Barbara Ann Scott, Tenley Albright, Hayes and David Jenkins, Carol Heiss, Sjoukje Dijkstra, Donald Jackson, Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Charles Tickner, Elaine Zayak, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Yuka Sato, Alexei Yagudin, Stephane Lambiel, Kurt Browning, Jeffrey Buttle, Evan Lysacek, Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden, Barbara Wagner and Robert Paul, Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and Javier Fernandez, all of them being World or Olympic champions or both, plus Jennifer Kirk, Miki Ando and Stephen Carriere, Jr., all World Junior champions. The Club has also been fortunate to have Paul Wylie, the Olympic Silver Medalist in 1992 and Sasha Cohen, the Olympic Ladies Silver Medalist in 2006 as featured performers. For their services to the Club, through their participation in Ice Chips, Tai Babilonia, Randy Gardner and Charles Tickner were awarded Regular Memberships for Meritorious Service in 1980.
Skaters from the Club have also appeared over the years in “An Evening with Champions” for the benefit of the Jimmy Fund, sponsored by Eliot House of Harvard University since 1970. The show was the idea of John Misha Petkevich, the National champion in 1971 and a member of the Club while he was a student at Harvard.
The Club also has sponsored for 20 years “Skatefest”, a series of exhibitions for the benefit of The Salvation Army, at Bright Arena of Harvard University from 1992 and, since 2011, at the Johnson Athletic Center at the invitation of MIT. Amanda Farkas of the Club’s coaching staff has directed the show for the past seventeen years. The show benefits “Our Place”, the day care center for homeless children under the age of five at the Army’s shelter in Cambridge.
Following the death of Mary Louise Wright in December 2004, the Junior Activities Committee proposed that an annual memorial exhibition be held in her name by the competitors of the Club for the purpose of raising funds to be held for and distributed in the form of grants to deserving competitors who have demonstrated an effective balance of academic and competitive achievement while being active participants in the activities and events of the Club.
The Formation of U.S. Figure Skating
As the sport grew and expanded Westward from its beginnings along the Eastern seaboard, it was soon apparent that the Club would provide, together with the representatives from New York, a major part of the overall leadership for its development, a leadership which has continued in three major areas of activity ever since: administration, competition and carnival. In all of them, the representatives of the Club have made important contributions over the years up to the present day.
After World War I, the need for a national governing body for the sport soon became obvious, as national and international participation was re-established. In 1921, U.S. Figure Skating (then known as the United States Figure Skating Association, or USFSA) was formed, with Winsor Weld as the first President and George Browne as the first Secretary. Mr. Weld was the key figure in attaining for the organization its rightful place as the national governing body for figure skating in the United States, recognized by all the major sports federations as such, including election as the representative member of the International Skating Union (ISU), the World governing body in 1923, a position it continues to hold today. The lead taken by Mr. Weld was followed by his successors and other U.S. Figure Skating officers, including six additional members or former members who have served as President: Charles M. Rotch, Sherwin C. Badger, Benjamin T. Wright, Hugh C. Graham, Jr., Franklin S. Nelson, all of whom are Honorary members of U.S. Figure Skating, as well as Charles U. Foster. Mr. Weld was the second Honorary President of the organization. Mr. Badger was himself a North American and U.S. champion and a U.S. Pair champion and Olympic Silver Medalist with Beatrix Loughran in 1932. Mr. Wright is also the first member of the Club to have served as an Officeholder of the ISU, first as a member from 1973 to 1988 and then as Chairman of the Figure Skating Technical Committee from 1988 to 1992. He is an Honorary member of the ISU and was an Honorary World Referee, while his late wife Mary Louise was an Honorary World Judge, a unique pair! Mr. Wright also served as Chairman of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame and Museum Committee for 23 years, ending in 1996.
Many members and former members of the Club have served as officers and committee chairmen of U.S. Figure Skating. As Vice President, there have been Nathaniel W. Niles, Arthur M. Goodridge, Roger F. Turner, Theodore G. Patterson, Carl W. Gram, Jr., E. Newbold Black, IV, Charles U. Foster and Theodore G. Clarke. Messrs Rotch, Badger, Wright, Graham and Nelson also held that office. As Secretary, in addition to Mr. Browne and Mr. Wright, there have served Richard L. Hapgood, Lyman E. Wakefield, Jr., Theodore G. Patterson, Harold G. Storke, John F. Groden and Patricia K. Hagedorn, while those who have served as Treasurer have been Messrs. Patterson, Gram, Groden and Warren J. Naphtal. Many members have served as chairmen of the major permanent committees of U.S. Figure Skating, and it is worthy of note that Maribel Y. Vinson was the second woman chairman of a committee (Dance) in 1936.
An important contribution to the growth of the sport under the direction of U.S. Figure Skating has been Skating Magazine, founded in 1923 by Theresa Weld Blanchard and her partner Nathaniel W. Niles, as the first editors, a position Mrs. Blanchard held until 1963. “Tee”, as she was known, was elected an Honorary member of U.S. Figure Skating in 1962.
The Club in Competition
Of all the areas of the sport, the greatest activity and contribution of the Club has been in competition, although it has also always been a recreational club as well. While a list of the past champions shows that the Club skaters have held their fair share of the major National titles, especially in the earlier years, and have won some impressive international titles as well, that is but a part of the story. The champions from the Club were also pioneers along the way and did much to bring the competitive art to its present high state of development in the United States.
Active participation in international competition began almost immediately after the Club was founded, when a team consisting of Edward M. Howland, Charles M. Rotch and his two sisters, Edith E. Rotch and Clara Rotch Frothingham, journeyed to Ottawa in 1913 to compete against the Minto Skating Club of Ottawa in Fours in the competition for the cup presented by the then Governor General of Canada, H.R.H., the Duke of Connaught. This was the first International Competititon held in North America between the Americans and the Canadians. A return match was held in Boston in 1914 for the Ellis Memorial Trophy, won by the skaters from the Club over those from the Minto Skating Club, which had been the winner in the prior year. Among those with the Minto team was Joachim von Ribbentrop, later Hitler’s foreign minister, who was on a diplomatic assignment in Canada. The trophy can be seen in the Club’s trophy case today. “Fours” was an early discipline , consisting of two men and two ladies, skating a five minute free skating program. In 1941, the four from the Saint Paul Figure Skating Club, which included two subsequent club members, Mary Louise Premer and Lyman E. Wakefield, Jr. , together with Janette Ahrens and Robert Uppgren, were the first US four to win the North American Championship over the Canadians. They were also the US Champion four in 1940. The discipline had one last “fling” in the 1991 US Championships and is essentially inactive today.
Interchanges between the American and Canadian skating clubs in both competitions and carnivals continued after World War I and ultimately led to the creation of the North American Championships in 1923, competed for on a biennial basis between the two countries until discontinued in 1971. This championship was comparable to the European Championships in status and importance. Theresa Weld, later Mrs. Charles B. Blanchard, had been the first Lady Champion of the United States in 1914, and was also the first North American Ladies champion in 1923. With her partner, Nathaniel W. Niles, she was North American Pair champion in 1925 and they won the United States Pair title a total of nine times!
Mrs. Blanchard was a very versatile skater, winning National titles also in dancing and in fours, in addition to singles and pairs. In 1920, Blanchard and Niles were the entire United States Figure Skating Team at the Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium, where Mrs. Blanchard was the Bronze Medalist in the ladies event, the first ever Olympic medal in figure skating for the United States. Thus was established the tradition of both US and club participation in the Games. There have been one or more representatives of the club in a majority of the Games since that auspicious beginning. In 1924, Charles M. Rotch served as a referee and Mrs. Blanchard and Mr. Niles were on the team, as they were again in 1928, when they were joined by Maribel Vinson, Roger Turner and Sherwin Badger. In 1932, Boston skaters on the team included Maribel Vinson, Suzanne Davis, Roger Turner and James Madden, with Charles Rotch as a judge. The team manager was Richard Hapgood and the chaperone was Mrs. Blanchard.
In 1936, Maribel and her partner George Hill, Grace and Jim Madden were all on the team, with Mr. Rotch again serving as a judge. In 1948 Dick Button and Gretchen Merrill were part of the team, with Bernard Fox as a judge. In 1952, Dick was again a member of the team, as was Tenley Albright, with Harold Storke as a judge. In both 1952 and 1956, Ted Patterson was one of the team managers, while Tenley was also a member of the 1956 team. In 1960, Laurence Owen, her sister Maribel and Dudley Richards all represented the Club, as did Ron Ludington. In 1964, Tina Noyes was on her first team, repeating in 1968, while Mary Louise Wright was a judge in 1964 and again in 1992!
In 1972, Charles Foster was a team leader and current Club coach Suna Murray was a member of the team. Charles was also a referee in 2002 and has also served as Secretary of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and as a Winter Games chef de mission and was the 29th President of U.S. Figure Skating. In 1976 Susan Kelley and Andy Stroukoff were members of the team and starting in that year Ben Wright was a referee at every Olympics through 1992 , as well as an administrative delegate in 1994. Paul George was a team leader in 1980 and later a chef de mission. He also has served as a Vice President of the USOC. Also on the 1980 team were Sheryl Franks and Michael Botticelli. Nancy Kerrigan was on the teams of 1992 and 1994, while Paul Wylie was a member of the 1992 team and brought home a silver medal. He is an Honorary member of the Club. In 2014 at Sochi, the pair of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir were members of the team and also earned a bronze medal in the team competition. They were twice US Pair champions in 2013 and 2014.
Sherwin Badger was the first North American Men’s champion, five times a US champion in Men’s singles and three times a US Pair champion with Beatrix Loughran of New York, with whom he was the Silver Medalist at the 1932 Olympic Winter Games at Lake Placid, the first Olympic medal in that discipline for the U.S. It is interesting to note that Sherwin was at the time in 1932 also the President of U.S. Figure Skating, the only competing President to achieve such a distinguished record while serving in that office.
Maribel Vinson was United States Ladies champion nine times, a record that was equaled in 2005 by Michelle Kwan, who was elected an Honorary Member of the club in 2009. Maribel won a silver medal at the 1928 World Championships and was Bronze Medalist at the 1932 Olympic Winter Games, at a time when the international scene was largely dominated by skaters from Europe. She was also the North American Ladies champion in 1937. Maribel also continued the tradition of Club dominance in pairs with her partners Thornton L. Coolidge and with George E.B. Hill, with whom she won a North American Pair title in 1935 and six US Pair titles overall.
Another leading skater in Men’s singles was Roger F. Turner, who followed the five titles of Badger and three of Niles with seven of his own, a mark which stood until tied by Dick Button in 1952. Roger was also twice a silver medalist in the World Championships in 1930 and 1931, the first American man to achieve that level in singles competition. In the 1930s and early 1940s, the Club’s success continued with Suzanne Davis, a US Ladies champion in 1934 and Grace E. Madden and James L. Madden the winners of the US Pair title in the same year. It was in 1934 that the skaters from the Club won seven out of the total of 11 titles contested, including the one US title in Fours.
Joan Tozzer succeeded Maribel as US Ladies champion in 1938 and held the title through 1940, while at the same time she was also a North American Pair champion in 1939 and a three time US Pair champion from 1938 to 1940 with Bernard Fox. Bridging the War years and the first post-War international competition was Gretchen Merrill, six times US Ladies champion, who represented the United States in the World and Olympic Competitions in 1947 and 1948 and was second in the European Championships of 1947 (then open to non-Europeans who were members of a European skating club) and third in the first post-war World Championships the same year.
The post-war skater who first broke through the long European domination for the United States was Richard T. Button. Dick first represented Philadelphia, but from 1950 while at Harvard, he represented the Club, winning prior to his retirement in 1952 five World, two North American and seven US titles, as well as being the Olympic Gold medalist twice in 1948 and 1952. Dick also won the European men’s championship in 1948, at a time when non-Europeans were able to enter. Immediately thereafter, the “door” was closed to them ! Dick’s presence at the Club during his college years had a great deal to do with the generation of skaters who scaled the heights in 1961, inspired as they were by his outstanding example and competitive spirit. Dick, who is an Honorary member of the Club and a member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame, is an honored and integral part of the “Boston story”.
In 1952, the Club’s own Tenley Albright was a Silver Medalist at the Olympic Winter Games at Oslo, Norway, and won the first of five US Ladies’ titles, as a forecast of the heights that she would soon attain by winning the World title (the first for the United States) in 1953 and again in 1955, two North American titles in the same years, topped by her win of the Olympic Gold Medal at Cortina, again a first for the United States. Tenley is an Honorary member of the Club and a member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
The post World War II era was also notable for the continued achievements of Maribel Vinson Owen as a reporter, author and teacher, especially of her daughters Maribel and Laurence and Tenley Albright. Her two daughters accomplished the unusual achievement of winning almost all of the same major titles that their mother had won before them. In 1961, Laurence won the North American and US Ladies’ titles, while Maribel (“young Maribel”) won both the US Junior Pair title with Charles U. Foster and the Senior title with Dudley Richards. The competitors from the Club won the Harned Trophy, which was emblematic of the team title at the US Championships of that year for the seventh time. Through the courtesy of Henrietta Dane, the Club was fortunate, following the death of Maribel’s mother, Gertrude Vinson, to receive in 1969 the collection of trophies and medals of Maribel and her daughters, which are now permanently displayed in the Club lounge as a memorial to that remarkable skating family.
The Brussels air tragedy in 1961 sadly ended the lives of the World Team of that year and accompanying family members and officials. There were actually no less than ten Club members involved: Walter S. Powell of St. Louis, a former U.S. Figure Skating President and ISU Council member, Bradley Lord, the US champion, Maribel, Laurence, the North American and US Ladies champion, young Maribel and Dudley Richards, the US Pair champions, Gregory and Nathalie Kelley, and Edward LeMaire of Rye, New York and his young son Richard.
What had clearly been the beginning of resurgence in the Club’s success in competition in its finest tradition had been abruptly snuffed out by the accident. However, beginning in 1962, the youthful successors to the members of the 1961 World Team quickly demonstrated their intention to regain the heights achieved by their distinguished predecessors, with Elizabeth and Paul George winning the US Junior Pair title, the winning of two other place medals and with the Club placing second in the race for the Harned Trophy. The Nationals of 1962 were held at the Club and McHugh Forum of Boston College, the first Nationals hosted by the Club since 1941. The Club also hosted the North American Championship, of 1925, 1929 and 1937 and the Nationals of 1922, the first under U.S. Figure Skating, 1926, 1931, as well as the Junior and Novice events in 1936, a unique “split” championship, with the Senior events being held in New York in December 1935 and serving as the trials for the 1936 Olympic Winter Games.
The competitions sponsored by the Club prior to 1939 were held at the Boston Arena, now Matthews Arena of Northeastern University which was again a venue for the Junior and Novice events of the 2001 US Championships. The Club sponsored the 2001 US Championships at the Fleet Center which were an outstanding success. Especially notable was the support of the City of Boston, which provided police escorts for the buses traveling back and forth between the competition venues and the official hotel. An outstanding souvenir program was created which featured the Club’s long history of success in the Nationals. The 2014 US Championships returned to what is now called the “TD Garden” and were equally as successful, with strong support from the city and the public, which is a Boston tradition.
In 1963, Lorraine Hanlon became the Club’s eighth US Ladies’ champion; Tina Noyes won the US Junior Ladies’ title the same year to go with her Novice title of 1961, and was later four times a silver medalist in the Senior Ladies’ championship, as well as a member of two Olympic Teams in 1964 and 1968. The tradition of Club representation on the Olympic Team continued in 1976 with Susan Kelley and partner Andy Stroukoff participating in the first ice dancing championship in the Games, and in 1980 with Michael Botticelli placing seventh in Pairs at Lake Placid with partner Sheryl Franks.
The strong tradition of Men’s skating must also be mentioned, starting with Nathaniel Niles, a three times US Men’s champion, Sherwin C. Badger, five times the champion, Roger Turner, seven times, Dick Button, also seven times, and Bradley Lord and John Misha Petkevich. There were many other outstanding men competitors, such as Frederick Goodridge, George Hill, Jimmy Madden, Gregory Kelley, Paul Wylie, whowas also a member of the 1988 Olympic Team, and Mark MItchell, a U.S. silver medalist and two-time bronze medalist. In the US Championships since 1961, the Club won the Harned Trophy, symbolic of team supremacy, two more times in 1963 and 1964, for a total of nine. It should also be noted that the Club won the comparable team trophies in the Eastern Sectionals eight times and in the New England Regionals eleven times. The New England trophy had been originally donated by Charles M. Rotch. All three trophies were retired in 1975 and there is no team event today. As can be seen in the lists of winners of the championships, the Club’s competitors have won many Eastern and New England titles over the years, since 1938 for the Easterns and 1943 for the New Englands. Actually, the first Eastern champions in 1938 included Roger Turner in Senior Men and Grace and Jimmy Madden in Senior Pairs. With the inauguration of the World Junior Championships in 1978, the Club has been represented there as well, with the first medals earned being the bronze in 1983 and silver in 1984 in ice dancing by Christina and Keith Yatsuhashi. Most notable are the gold medal in ladies won by Jennifer Kirk in 2000, the first World Junior title ever for the Club and the gold medal won by Stephen Carriere in 2007, the first for men. Jenny’s accomplishment was recognized in 2000 by her election as an Honorary member of the Club, while Stephen was also recognized in 2007 by his election as an Honorary member, with both of them being the youngest to receive that honor. Paul Wylie was also the World Junior champion in men in 1981, while Shepherd Clark was silver medalist in men in 1989.
In newer events, such as the National Collegiate Championships, established in 1986, and the U.S. Juvenile-Intermediate Championships, later renamed the US Junior Championships, established in 1991, the Club’s representatives have won their fair share of the titles. Paul Wylie was the first U.S. Intercollegiate Men’s champion in 1986, representing Harvard. Nancy Kerrigan (Emmanuel College) and Kathaleen Kelly Cutone (Northeastern) were also U.S. Collegiate Ladies champions while representing the Club. Jason Wong (Emmanuel College) was the senior U.S. Intercollegiate Men’s champion in 2008 and 2009. Another new championship created by the ISU starting in 1999 was the Four Continents Championships for skaters from outside Europe from North and South America, Asia and Oceania. It is a Senior ISU championship equivalent to the long-time European Championships. In 2002, the ladies title was won by Jennifer Kirk, who added a major senior title to her accomplishments following her World Junior title of 2000. The representatives of the Club have won twenty more US titles since 1961. To these can be added nine titles in the United States Junior Championships, inaugurated in 1991, clear evidence of the continued success of its young skaters and a bright promise for the future in the great tradition of the past. Karen Ferrara and Brandon Forsyth won the Intermediate Dance “A” title in 1993. In 2002 for the first time, the Club won two titles in the US Junior , with Melanie Drogseth taking the Juvenile Girls and Kylie Gleason, the daughter of Suna Murray Gleason winning the Juvenile Pairs with her partner Taylor Toth from Pittsburgh. Also In 2002, Louann Donovan won the first US Junior ladies title for the Club since 1982, while Loren Galler Rabinowitz and David Mitchell won the National Junior title in ice dancing for the first time since 1994. In 2003, Erica Archambault won the US Junior Ladies title, while Melanie Drogseth won the Intermediate Ladies title and Kylie Gleason with Taylor Toth the Intermediate Pairs, for a repeat of their success of the prior year. In 2006, Ross Miner was the Intermediate Men’s winner, while Kate McDermott and Colin McManus won the Juvenile Dance title. In 2007, Gretchen Donlan won the Intermediate Ladies while Una Donegan and Andrew Korda won the Intermediate Dance title.
With the establishment of the US Adult Nationals in 1995, the representatives of the Club have already won six titles in that rapidly expanding event. The first winners from the Club of an Adult National title were John Patrick Hull, who won the Gold Men’s event in 1995 and Nancy Hargreaves and Robert McGuirk, who won the Silver Dance in the same year. Patricia Berger has now won six gold medals in her age class in the Adult Nationals since 2000! Added in 2001 were separate Adult Sectional Championships and the Club’s own Marc Pepin won the Championship Adult Gold Men’s event in the first Adult Easterns.
The Club has sponsored and organized many of the qualifying competitions, including the Eastern Sectionals in 1945. 1949. 1954. 1965. 1971,1977 and 2009 and the New England Regionals in 1959-1960, 1966,1981, 1984, 1988 and 1993. The Club also hosted the 1999 New Englands as a “warm-up” for the 2001 US Championships, the 2009 Easterns and the 2012 New Englands as part of its 100th anniversary celebration. The Club will be holding the 2018 New Englands in a continuation of its long-term support of that particular championship going back to 1943. In recent times, the Club has also held its own very successful non-qualifying competition, the Boston Open, started in 1976 by Ted Clarke, which has been held since its inception in September, as a regular stop on the local circuit of such competitions leading up to the Regionals, until 2010 when the competition was moved to June to avoid conflicts with other like competitions due to the scheduling by U.S. Figure Skating of the Regionals on earlier dates. In 2013, the competition returned to its traditional September date. The New England Championships were originally created in 1943 as a “non-qualifying” competition comparable to the long-time Middle Atlantic Championships in New York as a means of providing continuing competition during the War years. There was, however, actually an earlier New England Championship held in 1915 under the auspices of the New England Skating Association, with all the titles being won by representatives of the Club. The Club held the New Englands every year from 1943 to 1952 and in 1955. In 1959, the championships became a ‘Sub-Sectional’ (qualifying) later Regional Championships leading to the Sectionals.
Synchronized Team Skating
With the addition to the coaching staff in 2001 of Rebecca Stump, a leading synchronized skating team coach, the club revived, after 20 years, a team in that discipline with her initial efforts resulting in an Intermediate Team which competed in the 2002 Eastern Sectional. It is no doubt long forgotten that at the beginning of formal Sectional and National competition in precision team skating, as it was called then, the Club’s Adult team, the Bostonians, were the Silver medalists in the adult division of the first Nationals in 1984. In six years under Becky’s leadership, there were three teams with favorable results, leading to successful participation in the Sectionals and Nationals. Unfortunately, the program collapsed in 2009, due to the loss of team members to the programs of other local clubs.
However, in 2009 the Club entered into an affiliation agreement with Team Excel, a separate organization created to include the former teams from the Colonial Figure Skating Club in Boxborough. The agreement provided for the members of the Team Excel teams to become team members of the Club while retaining that name. As a result, the “Team Boston” identifier for the former Club teams was discontinued, but with at least a beginner team still to train at the Club under the Team Excel banner. The teams also train at the Foxboro Sports Center and the New England Sports Center in 2016 and 2017, the Senior Team Excel team won the Eastern Sectional Synchronized Championship.
In 2012 the Club organized for the first time, with Team Excel, the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in Worcester, MA, as another event in recognition of its 100th anniversary.
In 2013, the Club organized, in co-operation with US Figure Skating, for the first time in Boston, the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships at the Agganis Arena of Boston University.
Theatre On Ice
A newer discipline in the sport of figure skating, known as “Theatre On Ice” started in the Club in 1996, when an adult Theatre On Ice group coached by Kingsford Swan was formed at the Club to compete in the Open International Theatre Competition, then held annually since 1992. In 1997, an adult team led by Theresa Lee was formed in Peabody which again competed in the same International Competition as Individual Members of U.S. Figure Skating and was coached by Martha Harding, who served as coach until 1999. In 1998, this adult team adopted the name “Imagica Theatre On Ice”. Martha was succeeded as coach in 1999 by Alisa Wallis Contreras, who served until 2003. She was succeeded by Tasney Mazzarino Laforme, who served as the coach through 2016 and was also a member of Imagica for two seasons 1998-2000 and retained an alternate skating status for much of her years coaching the team. Tasney was succeeded by Michael Phaneuf who coached the team through 2018. Beginning in 2019, the team is currently coached by Buck Withrow. Assistant coaches for Imagica have included Amy Hanson Kuleska, Amy Vecchio, Jimmy Morgan and Brad Vigorito.
In 2001, a senior team called “Act I of Boston” was founded at the Club by ice dance coach Tom Lescinski. Act I actually competed for the first time internationally in France in 2005 with success, while an international seminar in the discipline was hosted by the Club in October 2006, with representatives of France taking part. In the spring of 2004, Bob Withrow, a new member of the Imagica team at the time, a Club member and board member, urged the reformed Imagica group to return to the Club for training and to represent it in competition alongside Act 1, and that they did. Act I and Imagica went on to have continued success in the competitions that were available to them, winning several, national and international titles, as the discipline grew fast throughout U.S. Figure Skating. Act 1 won the senior event in the International Theatre On Ice Competition abroad three years in a row in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The first National Competition in Theatre On Ice sponsored by U.S. Figure Skating was held in 2008. As the discipline grew, so did Theatre On Ice at the Club, which started to see more and more interest which resulted in the need for more teams at different levels. The Club eventually formed a novice team Encore, under the direction of Heidi MacDonald and would later add a preliminary team Center Stage.
In 2011, the Club brought in Ice Chips show director Timothy LeBlanc to lead their senior team Act I and head up a rebrand of Theatre On Ice at the Club. Timothy worked with then Vice President of the Club, Jim McManus, and fellow coaches Heidi MacDonald and Tasney Mazzarino Laforme to rebrand the Club’s Theatre On Ice program as “Theatre On Ice of Boston” also referred to as “TOI of Boston”. Theatre On Ice of Boston went on to see year after year of new successes and continued to grow just as fast as the discipline itself across the country and around the world.
Imagica continued its long streak of titles from winning the Adult event in the National Theatre On Ice Competition from 2008 to 2011 and the Adult event in the International Theatre On Ice Competition from 2007 to 2009, to also winning Nations’ Cup in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Quite an extraordinary record and it is generally recognized that it was Imagica which created and defined the Adult discipline in Theatre On Ice! Simultaneously Act I was continuing its own national and international successes 2005-2007 they were international gold medalists, 2008-2013 they continued to win national and international titles and in 2014 Act I won the National Theatre On Ice Competition in Dearborn, Michigan.
Today, Theatre On Ice of Boston has 7 highly competitive teams each ranging in size from 8 to 24 skaters. In 2018, Act I became a junior level team with the introduction of a new senior team Forte of Boston. The teams today are Overture – Unified, Center Stage – Preliminary, Encore – Novice, Imagica – Adult, Act I – Junior and Forte – Senior. Theatre On Ice of Boston has continued to see success recently capturing 3 gold medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal at the 2019 National Theatre on Ice competition in Birmingham, Alabama.
With the continued mission to develop nationally competitive TOI teams by training teams of skaters who will challenge themselves to acquire new skills, experience the thrill of competition, and enjoy the friendships developed through education to a team effort. The mission statement of Imagica is worth stating , in view of the current trends in singles, pairs and ice dancing toward a strictly athletic program. “We take many aspects of the sport of figure skating – technical ability, artistry, theatricality, humility and grace – and combine them all into one. No one trait makes a skater well qualified to be on this team. Whether you can land an Axel or just skate forward, everyone has something to offer and contributes value to make to make Imagica what it is: Enthusiasm.” And with that, they lead with the philosophy that
Together Everyone Achieves More – TEAM!
The Skating Academy
For many years, the Club has had a Basic Skills or “learn to skate” program under the auspices of the official program of U.S. Figure Skating. The program was started and conducted for many years by Tom McGinnis. Following that success, the Club started similar programs in outside or satellite locations, first at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough in 2009, followed by the Fessenden School in Newton in 2010, the Frog Pond on the Boston Common in 2010, and at the Foxboro Sports Center in Foxboro in 2011.
In 2011, the Club employed past member Cheri (Barlow) Rigby to organize its multiple Basic Skills programs under one umbrella organization, The Skating Club of Boston Skating Academy. The Skating Academy’s mission is to provide a fun and safe skating experience for skaters of all abilities, while teaching correct technique, promoting health and wellness, and encouraging skaters to continue their interest in the various programs offered by the Club. Cheri has also greatly expanded the Club’s pro-bono outreach to the local community, starting a U.S. Figure Skating Skating in the Schools after-school program at the Frog Pond, and coordinating skating lessons and other fun outings for children from Boston area Boys and Girls Clubs.
In 2001, the first Basic Skills Competition under the rules of U.S. Figure Skating was held at the Club. The competition has been held annually ever since. There is also now a second Basic Skills Competition at the New England Sports Center, as well as the Mayor’s Cup at the Frog Pond. In addition, the Skating Academy members also have their own number in the club carnival Ice Chips.
Boston Common Frog Pond
In October of 2010, the Club entered into a public/private partnership with the City of Boston to manage the Frog Pond facility on historic Boston Common. The Club won the contract in a competitive bidding process and then won the contract again in 2013 for a seven year extension. The Club operates the facility throughout the year, including the highly popular winter ice rink, the spring and fall reflecting pool, and the equally popular summer spray pool. In late 2011, the Club also purchased a children’s carousel, which operates during the warm weather months at the Frog Pond. In addition to operating the year-round café there , the Club also produces the City Tree Lighting Spectacular and New Year’s Eve First Night spectacular ice shows. Both shows are free to the public , and offer locals and visitors the opportunity to see Club members perform in solo, team and group numbers. The Club produces free-to-the-public events during the year, including a summer outdoor yoga series, movie nights, a Halloween-themed pumpkin floating celebration, a dog friendly Barks and Bagels community fundraiser, and a large children’s celebration for the opening of the summer spray pool. Lastly the Club’s Skating Academy operates learn to skate programs at the Frog Pond, while also offering coaching assistance to the many dozens of school groups the Club hosts during the season for complimentary skating.
The Frog Pond operation has been an excellent opportunity for the Club to further extend its mission of promoting figure skating outside of its present Brighton location, and also for its members to show their talents in the fun winter ice shows.
Halls of Fame
Recognition of the preeminent position of the Club in the skating world and also of the contributions of its representatives to the sport, both in competition as well as in administrative positions, has been made by the election of no less than six members to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame since its founding in 1976: Dick Button (1976), Tenley Albright (1976), Montgomery Wilson (1976), Cecilia Colledge (1980), Willie Frick (1981) and Benjamin Wright (1997). Elected to the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame have been fifteen members or former members: A. Winsor Weld (1976), Theresa Weld Blanchard (1976), Sherwin C. Badger (1976), Maribel Vinson Owen (1976), Nathaniel W. Niles (1978), George H. Browne (1983), Walter S. Powell (1993), Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner (1992), Roger F. Turner (1994), George E.B. Hill (1994), Joan Tozzer Cave (1997), John Misha Petkevich (1999), Gretchen Merrill (2000), Hugh Graham, Jr. (2004) and Mary Louise Wright (2005). All US members elected to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame are also automatically members of the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame (Button, Albright and Wright).
From its earliest years, a succession of distinguished teachers of skating have served at the Club and have been largely responsible for the long list of champions who have compiled the remarkable competitive records reported herein. The first official teacher (as a professional) was Fritz Schmidt of Germany, followed soon after by Georg and Elspeth Müller, brother and sister also from Germany, who came about 1912 and stayed until 1917. Georg Müller is well known as the inventor of many of the compulsory dances which are now standard in the repertoire, including the Dutch Waltz, Fiesta Tango, Willow Waltz and Ten Fox. After World War I, Mr. Müller returned with his wife Leah Croger, for several more years and in 1926 Elspeth Müller returned to stay until 1938. She was one of the first among the ladies to wear beige boots!
Willie Frick, known as the “Boy Wonder of Berlin”, came to the Club in 1920 and was soon joined thereafter by his accomplished American wife Cathleen Pope. They were both excellent teachers, as well as exhibition skaters, with Willie being well remembered for his unique “candle dance”, skated around and through a grouping of lighted candles placed in holders on the ice. It was a superb exhibition form of “special figures”. In recognition of their devoted service to the Club, Willie and Cathleen were elected Honorary members in 1946. The Fricks taught at the Club for more than 40 years, with Willie being the teacher of virtually all of the champions and near champions from the Club during his tenure. Willie passed away in 1964 and was posthumously elected a member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1981. Montgomery S. (“Bud’) Wilson came to Club in 1946, fresh from service in the United States Army during World War II, although a Canadian. He earned a Bronze Star medal in Europe in the field artillery. During his competitive career he was the leading skater from North America, as evidenced by the fact that he was six times champion of North America between 1929 and 1939 and nine times a Canadian champion. He was also three times North American and five times Canadian champion in pairs with his sister Constance Wilson Samuel. He was a member of three Canadian Olympic Teams in 1928, 1932 and 1936 and was a Bronze Medalist at the 1932 Games and a silver medalist in the World Championships of the same year. Bud taught at the Club for eighteen years until his early and untimely death in 1964. He was also the Director of the annual carnival, “Ice Chips”, during much of his tenure. Bud was posthumously elected a member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1976.
Cecilia Colledge of England joined the Club staff in 1952. Her competitive record was a most notable one: World Ladies champion in 1937, three times European Ladies champion 1937-1939 and six times British Ladies champion. She was the youngest competitor at eleven in the 1932 Olympic Games and was the Silver Medalist in 1936. Like many European skaters, her career was shortened by the War, although she returned in 1946 to win her sixth and last British Ladies title. After turning professional, she twice won the British Open Professional championship in 1947 and 1948. She is the holder of the British First Class (Gold) Figure Skating medal, First Class (Gold) Dance medal and even more rare, the First Class (Gold) Instructors’ certificate, the highest award of its kind anywhere for teachers of skating. Among the “firsts” credited to Cecilia are the first double jump performed by a woman in competition, the one foot Axel Paulsen jump, and the layback and parallel (Camel) spins. Cecilia was elected an Honorary member of the Club in 1977 and a member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1980.
There have been many other distinguished members of the Club’s coaching staff over the years, although some of them were not with the Club for very long. Certainly the longest serving member of the staff in modern times is Thomas J. (“Tommy”) McGinnis, with more than 40 years until his untimely death in July of 2017! Both a singles skater and ice dancer in Sectional and National competition, Tom, after turning professional, completed his Gold Dance Test and also passed his Gold Pair Test with another Club member, Jo Barnum Wallace. An all around coach but an especially talented teacher of dance and pairs, Tom has served as well as a most creative and innovative Director of Ice Chips. He has also, together with Linda Blount, run the very successful “Learn to Skate” program of the Club. He has also been active in and has served as an officer and director for many years in the Professional Skaters Association, in which he holds every Master rating available! In recognition of his long service to the sport and the club he was elected an Honorary Member of the Club in 2011.. Other teachers from the early years included William Jaycock, and after the War, Marion Barstow Proctor, who became a member of the staff in 1957, continuing to serve until her death in 1990. Marion pioneered in the promoting of group classes and was recognized nationally for her work with the U.S. Figure Skating Memorial Fund in providing group instruction to skaters at the basic level, which were the forerunner of the major national programs such as that of U.S. Figure Skating: “Skate With US”. She also served as Director of Ice Chips. Marion was elected an Honorary member of the Club in 1980. Among others who have or currently are still serving on the coaching staff in the recent past have been the late Bobby Black, the late Paul McGrath, both former National Junior champions, Ronna Goldblatt Gladstone, a long-time staff member, Suna Murray, a former Olympic and World Team member, Sheryl Franks, Julie Graham Eavzan, Keith Lichtman, and Mark Hominuke from Canada. Among those with a briefer tenure at the Club as coaches have included former World champion Felix Kaspar, Arthur Bourque, Evy and Mary Scotvold, with Evy also serving as Club Manager, Barbara Kossowska and Zdenek Pienkowski.
As the Club moves forward in the early years of the 21st century, it is fortunate to have a strong coaching staff, including Mark Mitchell, a former National Senior Men’s competitor, Peter Johansson of Sweden, a former Swedish National champion and Olympic Team member. Mark has served as an athlete member of the U.S. Figure Skating Board of Directors and of its Executive Committee, and as Chairman of the U.S. Figure Skating Athletes Advisory Committee. In 2016 Peter and Mark moved their main base of operations to a satellite location in Revere MA, while still remaining members of the coaching staff. Peter has also served as Director for the coaches while in Boston.
Recent additions to the coaching staff in 2016 have included Simon Shnapir, a two time National Senior Pair Champion with Marissa Castelli in 2013 and 2014, as well an Olympic Bronze medalist in 2014 in the team event, and Michael Bramante, a former dance competitor from the club.. Also joining the staff in 2017 were Evgenia Shishkova and Vadim Naumov, who were the World Pair Chmpions in 1994. Their son Maxim is the National Novice Champion for 2017. Also among those currently serving on the coaching staff on the figure skating side are Adam Blake, Christie Allan-Piper, Jennifer Blount Medico, Linda Blount, Amanda Farkas, Melanie Lambert, Garrett Lucash, Robert Martin, Sergey Minaev, Liane Moscato, Tracy O’Brien, Fred Palascak, Morgan Rowe, Matthew Savoie, Becky Stump, Deidre Williams, Carrie Wall and Jason Wong. On the Dance side, Tom Lescinksi and Ron Kravette have been fixtures for many years, along with Dawn Ponte-Jarvis and Catherine Nutter. Serving off ice have been Kat Arbour, Maya Smith and Kate Hamilton.
In Synchronized Skating, Merita Mullen, a former member, serves as the head coach for Team Excel along with assistant coaches Kristin Curran and Mandy Curtin. In Theatre on Ice, Tasney Mazzarino-Laforme is the head coach, and Michael Phaneuf and Becky Stump serve as assistant coaches.
Barret Brown, Tom Lescinski and Mark Mitchell have served as coach members of the U.S. Figure Skating Board of Directors. It is also worthy of note that during the 1990s, several of the eligible competitors from the Club began their teaching careers while still active competitors. Among them have been Jennifer Blount, many times Eastern and New England Ladies champion in figures, Amanda Farkas, an International and National competitor, Amy Webster Berg and Ron Kravette, two time Eastern Dance champions and National Bronze Medalists, all of whom are or have been members of the coaching staff. The Professional Skaters Association (PSA) was originally founded in 1938 as the Association of Professional Figure Skaters, later the Professional Skaters Guild of America (PSGA), as the national association for the teaching professionals. Today, the PSA includes the competing and exhibiting professionals and has conducted an Open Professional Championship of the United States in the past. Its rating system and educational programs for coaches are officially recognized by both the USOC and U.S. Figure Skating.
It should also be noted that Gerry Lane, a long-time competitor from the Club, and a former National Junior Dance Champion in 1970 with Mary Bonacci from Rye NY, has served as the President of the Professional Skaters Association (PSA), continuing a tradition of involvement by Club representatives and coaches in that organization, going back to Tee Blanchard, Willie Frick, Maribel Vinson, Bud Wilson, and especially in more recent times, Tom McGinnis, Paul Wylie and Rebecca Stump, who is currently in 2017 a Vice President. Willie Frick served as the second President of the Guild, while Tee Blanchard was an Honorary President in recognition of her efforts to establish the organization in the beginning. She was subsequently recognized posthumously as an Honorary Member of the PSA in 2011.
As the Club moves forward in the 21st century with the celebration of its 100th Anniversary in 2012 and the opening of a new three surface facility, hopefully in 2019, it can be said that it is on a solid footing and thriving as one of the leading clubs in the country.
Club History provided by the late Mr. Benjamin T. Wright, Historian, The Skating Club of Boston.