Second, Prize Figure Skating Championship of the World, 1902, London; Lady Figure Skating Champion of the International Skating Union, 1906, Davos, 1907, Vienna; Winner of the Ladies' Figure Skating Competition, Olympic Games, 1908 London •
Figure Skating Champion of Great Britain, 1903, 1904, London, etc., etc. Continued from page 3927, Part 32
Nos. 24 and 25A and b-the One-foot Eights - Combinations of the Turns and Changes - International Competition - Practise to Music - Pair Skating - The Best-pair Skaters - Conclusion
ThE directions given for the changes, Nos. 5A and b and 6a and b (page 3924-5, Vol. 6), apply to the skating of the above figures, the only difference being that the skater describes a circle before changing, instead of half a circle, and is rather harder on the edge during the whole of the figure.
The remaining figures in the schedule are simply combinations of the turns and changes before described, the difficulties of the changes and the turns being combined in each case.
It may be said that very few skaters of either sex ever attain to these figures, and those few only after four or five seasons' really hard work.
In taking leave of the excellent but ex-ac ting "school figures," it may be said that there are several which invariably call " stop " to the learner for con-siderable periods; first, the backward changes. When these are overcome, the back loops present themselves ; next, the back brackets and the forward-outside rockers, each being a compulsory halting-place for a long or short period, according to the aptitude and per-severance of the student.
In conclusion, no one can become a really good skater without a thorough knowledge of these elements; without such knowledge the skater will never attain to the ease, the grace, the certainty, the perfect balance in every movement which calls forth the complimentary : " How easy it looks ! "
Mrs. Greenhough Smith, the famous lady skater, who was champion of Great Britain in 1908 and 1911
All international competitions are divided into two sections - " A," a certain number of school figures taken from the list which we have given, and " B," a free skating programme of from three to five minutes duration, usually skated to music, and consisting of such dance steps, pirouettes, toe spins, and such original combinations as the performer thinks will produce a harmonious effect. Some few years ago it was the practice of most of the champions to introduce in their free skating several extremely difficult so-called " star " figures, but the uncertainty as to whether these " came off " or not (and a strong wind or rough ice is often fatal to their exact execution) led to their omission and the substitution of easy and flowing movements which depend on grace and rhythm for their successful execution.
Most English skaters of both sexes are usually more proficient in school figure-skating than in free skating. There seems generally to be a lack of initiative and originality which arrests progress in the latter section.
Those who wish to excel and compete should practise regularly every day to music, if possible, a definite programme of free figures until the sequence of the movements becomes automatic and no effort of memory is necessary in reproducing them, the time occupied may be three, four, or five minutes according to the capabilities of the performer.
Though, to the onlooker, it seems easy enough to skate fast, freely, and without pause for five minutes, the task is really a difficult one, which calls for considerable strength and preparation or training. When first a beginner turns her thoughts to free skating, it seems almost a hopeless task. She cannot think how or where to begin. To the uninitiated, the programme of a finished performer seems a maze of pirouettes, dance steps, spirals, and turns, but there is a method in all this ; each figure is practised separately, over and over again, then comes the most difficult part, the part in which so many fail, that of linking the figures to form an easy and flowing sequence. It is here that the originality and ability of a skater is shown. This linking is not to be done with one or two deliberate strokes, either backwards or forwards, but with a rapid running movement of the feet or a quick loop, and so on to the following figure.
A Good Programme
The details of a programme usually consist of an entrance spiral on any edge which brings the skater to the middle of the rink, then may follow a waltz, or some figure which can be skated in the centre of the rink, and here it may be said that it is not a good practice to get near the barrier or boundary of a rink when free skating. Many folks appear to be gradually drawn towards the boundary, and once there, to be unable to get away again ; they are like Chuchundra, the musk-rat who, in Mr. Kipling's delightful story, is always trying to make up his mind to run into the middle of the room, but never gets there.
The next item should be a step which will follow a line across the rink, this to be followed by a jump or a pirouette on one or both toes.
In this way the skater will fill the rink while keeping away from the boundary. All figures should be skated with plenty of swing and " go," but without hurry ; each movement should be given its value, and music is a great help to this end.
Beginners always find great difficulty in remembering their programmes. No sooner do they commence to skate than excitement makes them forget the sequence of the figures. To avoid this the programme should be divided into two or three sections ; such divisions should not be apparent to the onlookers ; an appearance of continuity should be aimed at. The last half-minute of the programme should be devoted to a striking figure, either a really good step, skated with much pace and absolute time, or perhaps an effective jump, although it is rather risky to put in a jump at the end of a tiring programme. However, if the skater is sure of herself, such a figure makes a good finish, which can be followed by an exit skated straight down the rink.
Probably the most attractive form of skating from the point of view of the spectators is pair-skating, which, strange to say, until a few years ago, had never been seen in England, the writer and her husband being its first exponents in this country.
We had seen, admired, and envied the charming skating of the Swedish, Austrian, and German pairs when competing in Vienna and Berlin, and determined to try and attain a like proficiency, which, in a few years, we were able to do and to compete against our foreign rivals with success.
Pair-skating is not figure-skating as that term is usually understood. It is really dancing on skates. Sometimes the partners are together hand in hand, or in the position for the waltz ; sometimes apart, and the art of this style of skating principally consists in the absolute uniformity of movement of the partners. They must appear to have but one mind, and each position and each measure must melt into the next without a halt or pause.
The entrance in pair-skating, as in single-skating, is usually with a spiral on a forward edge, then with a quick turn or jump one of the skaters moves to a backward edge. This makes a very effective entrance which can be followed by a dance, the pair being side by side. Should a change of sides be necessary, it can readily be effected by the gentleman, without releasing his partner's hands, passing his arm over her head.
Probably the best pair for dance steps ever seen was Herr Euler and Frau von Szabo of the Training Eis Club, Vienna. Their perfect timekeeping and rhythm was wonderful, their one fault being a tendency to confine themselves to these movements.
In the writer's opinion, the finest all-round pair is undoubtedly Herr Burger and Frau-ein Hubler, of Munich. They skate with wonderful pace and rhythm ; their dance steps are almost as good as the Vienna pair, and their programme is full of new or unexpected combinations.
It is impossible to describe the many movements which make up a good programme. It is a rhythmic amalgamation of dance and other steps difficult to describe and impossible adequately to convey by means of diagrams. The only satisfactory system of progress in pair-skating is to study the methods of the best performers in order to acquire a general effect of grace and lightness, and, when this is attained, attention should be given to the development of original combinations and novelties.
In conclusion, it may be said that skating is pronounced by many authorities to be the best of all physical exercises. It can be enjoyed by the young and old of both sexes, and has had such distinguished advocates as Goethe, Wordsworth, Dr. Johnson, and Du Maurier.