To give an example of the foolish inflexibility of the authorities and the length to which the regimented German mind of that time would go, the following will suffice. She wanted passes for the parents or persons accompanying the skaters many of whom were very young to enter the stadium, the dressing-rooms, restaurant and so on reserved for competitors and officials, during the practice time, which sometimes meant attendance there from 6.30 a.m. to late at night. Do you think this simple request could be granted? No! It was met with a blank refusal. They were told they must have tickets. But there were no tickets left. All tickets were now. unobtainable. It was in vain to say that the only thing the parents wanted was to be with their children and keep an eye on them. It was only after days of argument and after I arrived, by both of us banging the table harder and shouting louder than Ritter von Halt the organiser a typical arrogant Nazi and by threatening to take the whole team back to London, which in point of fact could not have been done, for wild horses could not have stopped the competitors skating, that at last my wife got six cards with Please admit to all parts of the stadium at all times, and then peace reigned. I think von Ribbentrop, whom I knew very well, and to whom I complained, had something to say behind the scenes, where Ritter von Halt and a rather sinister individual with a French name, a Baron le Fort, were really enjoying their temporary taste of power.
Cecilia Colledge scored a remarkable personal success there, not only with the leading Nazis Goering in particular could not keep his eyes off her, he asked me all about her on several occasions but with the general public which regarded her as the typification of fresh and charming British girlhood, which indeed she was. The crowd of 40,000 gave her a tremendous ovation at the finish of her show quite putting her rivals in the shade. In fact the whole British team was definitely the favourite of the crowd.
This was the first big skating meeting where the Hollywood talent scouts came into the open: they infested the stadium, and they certainly were rewarded, for it was here that they acquired Sonja Henie and Jack Dunn.
It was at this Olympic that we first saw the really fine Japanese skaters, Miss Etsako Inada and the four men, Hasegawa, Katayana, Oimatsu and Watanabe, who made up a strong team which, considering their limited experience, did very well.
Now I must mention an extraordinary and tragic coincidence. His majesty King George VI died only a few days before the 1936 Games and the whole team skated with black arm-bands. In the 1952 European Championships in Vienna, only a few days before the Sixth Winter Olympic Games held by the Finns at Oslo, one of our lady skaters was just about to begin a figure,
when the news of King George VI s death was announced on the loud-speaker. On this occasion, for the figures and the free, the team skated all in black. Had it been scratched the competition would have been ruined. But the whole of Vienna was in mourning for one whom the Press named A Great King and a Great English Gentle-man.
No account of inter war years pairs would be complete without reference to one of the most famous, that of Jack F. Page and Ethel Muckelt both, alas, now dead, nine times winners of the British Pair Title. They, again, were both fine solo skaters and their performances, given all over Britain and the Continent, after they had absorbed some shadow skating, helped in no small measure to break down opposition to it.
Between the Wars (Part 11). Between the Wars Index.
Between The Wars
Part 10
Cecilia Colledge 1936