Tracing Back | Around the Rink | Lives Lived

Some Italian Skating History… Yesterday and Today – written by Debbi Wilkes

Wilkes and Revell proudly hold their bronze medal at the 1964 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck in 1964. FACT: In December 2013, after an investigation by The New York Times, the International Olympic Committee confirmed that Kilius/Bäumler and Wilkes/Revell share the 1964 Olympic silver medal and Joseph/Joseph of the United States are the bronze medalists.

As our Team struts their amazing stuff in Milan at the World Championships, I’m reminded of my experience competing at Worlds in Italy back in 1963 in Cortina d’Ampezzo when Guy (Revell) and I were trying to improve on our 4th place finish in Prague in 1962.

After a long transatlantic flight, we landed in Milan and boarded a bus for what seemed like an even longer ride to Cortina, a breathtakingly beautiful town in the Italian Alps and a previous host to the Olympic Winter Games in 1956. The competition venue was outside, something we had trained for back in Canada, however, what we couldn’t easily prepare for was competing successfully at altitude, an energy-sapping fitness challenge that can take as long as a week to overcome. The first few practices were demoralizing even after accounting for jet lag and fatigue… with our lungs burning, we couldn’t get through 30 seconds of our program, let alone the full 5 minutes.

Just as we were beginning to feel back to our old selves, we were scheduled for a photo shoot outdoors on a small natural ice surface outside our hotel. It was a gorgeous day… the sun shining gloriously, the alps glistening white in the background, mounds of freshly fallen snow bordering the rink. It was postcard perfect!

What wasn’t perfect was the condition of the ice. With the intense rays of the sun, the ice surface fluctuated in texture between rock-hard in the shadows and slush in the sunny areas… but we took care and skated cautiously. There was one particular lift we loved to perform, the Adagio, a carry lift illegal in competition but a real crowd pleaser in exhibitions and shows. Guy and I agreed it would be a fantastic shot against the backdrop of the Alps.

We finally got that spectacular photo. But what the shot did not show was that seconds after the camera clicked, Guy hit a spongy area on the ice, lost his balance and fell, catapulting me backwards and upside-down from 7’ in the air to land on my head. To this day I have no recollection of the fall, only memories of waking up in a cold hospital room with my mom by my side trying to get me to eat something from a tray of food that included a whole fish, head and all!

Once back at the hotel, it became obvious that I was in no condition to compete and was eventually sent home before the event began. What X-rays in Cortina did not show and what was finally discovered back in Canada was I had suffered a hairline fracture which had caused an internal hemorrhage and some resulting facial paralysis. Not pretty.

Thank goodness for the wonderful “unofficial” Canadian medical presence in Cortina. A team member, Ken Ormsby (Paulette Doan), was accompanied by his Dad, a medical doctor. Had it not been for Dr. Ormsby’s care, support and guidance, I’m not sure how I would have navigated the system both in Italy and back in Canada. It was Dr. Ormsby’s quick and attentive actions that guaranteed my full recovery.

Sometime after that, medical personnel became standard members of our international teams competing abroad, offering their expertise, parenting/life skills and friendship to any Canadians travelling under the Skate Canada banner. And this year in Milan is no different. Under the watchful eye of Dr. Ed Pilat of Winnipeg, Man., and physiotherapist Josiane Roberge, of Sillery, Que., the team can trust that with their medical staff’s expert care, every athlete will be in top form to compete.

The Canadian team sweater being worn by Kevin Lethbridge on the left and JD Mitchell behind on the right. Both members of our dance team. Next to Guy Revell is Monty Hoyt from the US. Beyond Monty by the boards and looking toward Kevin is Carole Forrest, Kevin’s dance partner. And coincidentally, standing between Kevin and JD, with his back to the picture, is Dr. Ormsby.


“Our career feels beautifully complete” – written by Meagan Duhamel

Duhamel & Radford win Olympic pairs bronze at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games

As Canadian skaters prepare to compete at the 2018 ISU World Championships post-Olympics, they are faced with a new challenge. To find new motivation after what was likely the highest pinnacle of their lives. The Olympics.

The build up to qualifying for the Olympics, then the experience at the Olympics, where athletes are on an all-time high for 3 weeks, is exhausting. And then to hit the reset button so quickly afterwards to prepare for the World Championships is tough.

I have so much respect for all the skaters that are doing that right now in Milan. Eric and I knew from past experiences, that we didn’t have it in us to refocus and re-motivate ourselves after such an incredible Olympic experience. Our career feels beautifully complete and we decided to give our spot at Worlds to a young up and coming pairs team that could use the valuable experience.

I wish all the skaters in Milan this week a chance to reach new goals and new personal bests. This week will be the end of some careers of skaters that we have come to love and it will be the beginning of others careers, as this World Championships may launch their skating journey in a new direction.

I hope that everyone who is sitting at home watching from the comfort of their couch, like I am, can appreciate the dedication and hard work of these skaters. This past month of preparation was difficult for all of them, whether they are coming from amazing performances at the Olympics or they are looking for redemption from a disappointing Olympics. I am proud of everyone of them for simply showing up and giving it everything they have.


Celebrating Skating History… with Friends

Ann Shaw, host of the Alumni Brunch at the 2018 National Championships in Vancouver.

One of the initiatives of the Alumni Committee at the 2018 Canadian Championships in Vancouver was to celebrate Skate Canada’s proud skating history with the audience by introducing our illustrious Alumni sitting in the stands during events in which they had competed in years past.

During the dance event the announcer introduced former dance medalists like Virginia Thompson, Joni Graham, Karen and Rod Garossino, Louise and Barry Soper, Blair Armitage, Kelly Johnson, Alexandra Paul, Joyce Hisey, Ann Shaw and Donna Lee Zaleski and asked them to stand and take a bow.

Almost immediately after Ann Shaw, medalist and Hall of Fame member was introduced, Karen Garossino’s cell phone rang. Someone in the audience all the way across on the other side of the arena, knowing Karen, asked if she could pass her phone to Ann. It turned out that this skating fan was a former neighbour of Ann’s from Toronto but had never known of her involvement in skating. After not seeing her for many years, she wanted to say, “Hello!”

(The Shaw’s have now been invited for dinner back in Toronto.)


2018 David Dore Mentorship Fund: APPLY

Mr. David Dore

Planning, Flexibility and Responsibility written by Paul Dore

A few months ago, I received a package from Skate Canada Archivist Emery Leger. Inside was a stack of speeches my father David Dore made in the 1980s and 1990s. My father was the Director General of Skate Canada and then Vice-President of the International Skating Union (ISU). He was first known as a great public speaker during his time at Skate Canada, who was able to clearly communicate his direction of the sport in this country. Through strong leadership, my father had a vision of what could be accomplished. There was a common thread throughout these speeches; he continually outlined three elements he felt were essential to being a successful leader: planning, flexibility and responsibility.

In order to achieve success, it was crucial for my father to have a clear path forward. During his time at Skate Canada and the International Skating Union, he was always prepared and always planning – most of the time years in advance. While planning was important, he also stressed the need to be flexible. Times change, and as we all know, the sport of figure skating can evolve rapidly. A plan must be in place, but the ability to adapt, change and adjust that plan was key to success. Finally, a leader must take responsibility for their actions. People involved with the sport did not always agree with my father and he respected and welcomed other’s opinions, but a leader must not be afraid to make unpopular decisions. They might be unpopular in the moment, but together with planning and flexibility, a strong leader must have one eye on what is best in both the long and short term.

I think these elements of leadership were part of the motivation to establish the David Dore Mentorship Fund. Skate Canada is dedicated to recognizing positive leaders who exemplify these same leadership traits at the community, club, section and national level. The Mentorship Fund enables a Skate Canada member, coach, official or administrator to further enhance their leadership skills by attending the Skate Canada Ice Summit for a unique educational and networking experience.

Last year, I had the privilege of being involved in the selection of the first two recipients of the David Dore Mentorship Fund. Megan Foster is from Brandon, Manitoba, is a coach and Regional Sport Development Officer for Sport Manitoba. Amanda Gryniewski is from Mississauga, Ontario and an official with Skate Ontario.

“I was fortunate to shadow [Skate Canada CEO] Debra Armstrong during the Ice Summit,” Megan said. “It was really neat to see such a strong leader in action during a presentation and within an hour have everyone on the same page and on the same goal.”

As a judge, Amanda enjoyed being mentored by officials with international experience: “During the workshops, I got to present with [International Judge] Sally Rehorick, which was amazing. It was about what officials are doing when they’re not holding a clipboard. Sally gave me the opportunity to speak and I talked about own experiences as a judge and leadership among young people, which I think is very important to our sport.”

On the last day of the 2017 Ice Summit, I was able to meet Megan and Amanda. The excitement over their experiences during their time in Ottawa was palpable. “After spending time with Debra at the Ice Summit,” Megan commented, “it’s almost a little overwhelming to think of how to apply what I’ve learned and what would have the most impact to my community.”

Amanda was already thinking of how to capitalize on her time at the Ice Summit: “I went to one of the workshops taught by a referee and I learned a lot about the rules that I didn’t know even as a skater. I also went to some of the coaching seminars and I got to learn from this different perspective. I hope that when I go back to my club, I can inspire some of the younger kids to get involved with judging as well.”

Megan and Amanda both exemplify planning, flexibility and leadership. After learning about their experiences, perhaps you are a future recipient of the David Dore Mentorship Fund? If this sounds like you, we encourage you to apply today to attend the 2018 Ice Summit in Calgary, Alberta.

Returning to that stack of speeches, my father always reminded himself and those he was speaking to of these principles:

“Let not the dream of every young skater remain only as a dream. Savour the friendships and memories – ours is a sport unique in comradeship and moments of greatness. Allow that our involvement always be motivated by positive intents and cooperative action. Let us have pride in our young athletes and recognize the support of volunteers, parents, coaches and administrators. Last but not least, let us not forget that this sport involves to a great extent the young people of this nation, their mental and physical development and well-being, as well as their aspirations and goals.”

To hear more from Amanda and Megan, watch this video where they go into more details about their experience at the 2017 Ice Summit.

If you are one of those leaders, find out more information and APPLY today or please SHARE through the link below:

One thought on “Tracing Back | Around the Rink | Lives Lived”

  1. Great articles.. A good way to stay in touch and reliving old memories after 30 years association with Skate Canada.

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