Although Haines won the first two unofficial American championships in 1863 and 1864, his countrymen in general were lukewarm to his innovations. He decided to leave his wife and three children to seek fame in Europe. The British, too, were unreceptive to his performance but in Vienna he won instant success. Skating to the music that Johann Strauss had just composed, Haines took the city by storm. He made up waltzes, marches, mazurkas and quadrilles, adding to ballroom dancing a heady speed and pleasing grace, and founding the disciplines of ice dancing and pair skating. For eleven years he was feted throughout Austria, Hungary, Germany, Russia and Scandinavia. In 1876 he decided to return home. Traveling to Stockholm from St Petersburg, where he had given lessons to Tsar Alexander II, he was caught in an unexpected snowstorm while in a sleigh. He contracted pneumonia and died, aged thirty-six.
The first international skating meet was organised by the Viennese in 1882 and consisted of twenty-three prescribed school figures, a special figure chosen by the competitor, and a four-minute free-skating routine. Austrians took the first two places but third was Axel Paulsen of Norway whose name still lives on in the rotation jump he invented, the axel.
The worlds first rink using an artificially made ice surface had opened in 1876. The Glaciarium in Chelsea used a process patented by John Gamgee, who also invented the slot machine. His freezing process was intended originally to preserve meat on the long sea voyage to Australia. It worked by pumping a mixture of ether, glycerine and brine through copper piping. Previous ventures in making artificial ice had been disastrous. An 1843 issue of Punch describes a visit to a rink near Baker Street where the ice was made not of frozen water but of a slush of chemicals including hogs lard and melted sulphur, which smelled abominably. Another attempt in Manchester required patrons to skate on an uneven surface through an extremely thick mist.
The success of the Chelsea rink spawned many others. The much larger Southport Glaciarium, 164 feet by 64 feet, opened in 1879, coinciding with the birth of the NSA, and remained open for ten years. Almost immediately rinks sprang up in other countries, and many more opened in Britain. The rink which was built in Charing Cross in 1893 was deemed adequate to hold the ISUs third competition in 1898. In 1924 these annual events were retrospectively named World Championships although only a handful of competitors had taken part.
In 1901 the ISU was shocked to receive an application for the following years event from a British woman, Madge Syers-cave. There were no regulations to deny her entry and she was placed second out of four behind the great Ulrich Salchow, who won the second of his ten world titles and is remembered as the inventor of the Salchow jump. Some said she would have won had she not been a woman. The rules were quickly changed to exclude women, and a separate event for them was set up in 1906. syers-cave won the first two such competitions, as well as Olympic gold medal in womens skating at the 1908 (Summer) Olympic Games in London. Women continued to compete with men British national championship until the 1930s.
Skating was also part of the 1920 (Summer) Olympic Games held Antwerp. In that event the American Theresa Weld was warned to judge, who considered it unfeminine, that she would be penalised if insisted on jumping. She persisted in doing a small salchow jump, won the free-skating portion and the bronze medal in a field of competitors. The first Winter Olympic Games were set up in 1924 held in Chamonix. Gillis Grafstrom of Sweden, an extremely grace skater who gave the world the change foot sit spin and the jump sit spin, won the mens event and the second of his three Olympic gold medals.
The 1924 Winter Olympic Games are remembered as the start of a revolution sparked off by a pudgy, blonde-haired, blue-eyed eleven-year-old from Norway, Sonja Henie. Figure skating was then the province of a small, privileged, rich aristocracy. All participants were adults.