Between The Wars
Part 6
Incidentally, Cecilia won the first postwar championship in 1946 and then the Open Professional Championship in 1947 and 1948. Cecilia had been second to Sonja in the 1936 Olympic at Garmish and as was expected won the Worlds in 1937 and the European in 1937, 1938 and 1939, while Megan won the Worlds in 1938 and 1939: in this last event Cecilia had an accident and was unable to skate. Both girls were possessed of exceptional ability and whenever they met it was a battle royal. Some favoured one, some the other. I think the fairest thing I can say is, that Cecilia was the better pure-technician, the skaters skater; and that Megan seemed to appeal more to the general public, but when Cecilia became a professional show skater, she completely overcame her amateur diffidence and developed an artistry and sense of presentation that rendered her performances quite delightful.
And now let us return to the men, to those fine skaters who were contemporary with and who followed Grafstrom. There was Willi Bockl of Austria, with five World and six European Championships to his credit, and no greater sportsman nor one more generous to his rivals can be imagined. There was Karl Schafer, also of Vienna, who won seven World, eight European and two Olympic titles the man who never fell! I once described him as the man with an extra foot always ready to pop down. Karli was. a great joker he still is. The tricks that he and Grafstrom played on the judges were wonderful. I dont mean that they did anything wrong. I mean that they pulled the judges legs unmercifully. In Modern Figure Skating, published in 1930, there is a letter which Grafstrom sent to me in reply to a request for his permission to quote him. Here is an extract which will illustrate what he thought of some of the self-styled authorities: In best remembrance of your fine understanding of skating and your spiritual way to talk about our sport. Astonishing that the highly intellectual, charming sport and art of skating, technique, judging, etc., has remained in its early, primitive childhood from rather long ago. There are many things to improve in figure skating.
Jack T. PAGE 1923 British Championship 11 times
Sometimes in, during and after a competition, it was hard to keep serious among those serious men with their childish methods and opinions or lack of both as it could seem. In regard to Karli, I remember in 1934, when the European should have been held at Innsbruck, owing to a thaw, we had to go up to Seefeld, a small resort 3,000 ft. up in the mountains. Unfortunately, the ice there was very bumpy and for once surely the only time in competition Karli fril on a back-change-loop.
HERBERT J. CLARKE (UK)
Between the Wars (Part 7). Between the Wars Index.