Skate Canada Hall of Fame
Since 1990, The Skate Canada Hall of Fame has been paying tribute to athletes, coaches, builders and officials who have made a significant impact on Canadian figure skating. Each year, nominations are reviewed by the Hall of Fame Committee and a maximum of ten inductees are honoured in each Olympic quadrennial. Often, the induction ceremonies are held in conjunction with the national championships but can also occur at other competitions and Skate Canada Meetings. While there is no permanent home for the Hall of Fame, the archives of the Skate Canada national office houses the many different historical and archival artifacts.
The Skate Canada Archives were created to collect, preserve, study and interpret artifacts and archival materials which are historically significant to figure skating in Canada. More than 2500 photographs, 500 videotapes, as well as trophies, plaques, textual materials, medals, pins, and skates comprise the current collection. The collections are available for consultation by appointment with the archivist.
Skate Canada Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies
Athletes and Coaches are inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame during the Canadian Championships. Builders will be honoured at the Skate Canada Achievement Award Gala which takes place during the Annual Convention and General Meeting of the Association in different cities each year. Information on future inductions will be posted on this site as information becomes available. Inductions are not necessarily held on an annual basis.
2012 Induction Ceremony
On Saturday, January 21, Skate Canada officially entered two more inductees into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. Wendy Griner, of Toronto, Ontario entered the Hall of Fame in the athlete category and Sandra Bezic also of Toronto, Ontario entered as a professional. The ceremony took place at the 2012 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Moncton, N.B.
Griner and Bezic both had family members in attendance to take in the special day. They were honoured in front a full crowd at the Moncton Coliseum Complex. Petra Burka and Mary Claire Heintzman spoke to the crowd about the talent and depth of Griner’s skating career. Speaking on the many accomplishments of Bezic were Skate Canada consultants Louis and Marijane Stong.
Griner was Canadian Champion from 1960-1963 and a world silver medalist in 1962. She represented Canada twice at the Olympic Winter Games, first in 1960 and once again in 1964, placing 12th and 10th respectively. Known as a staunch competitor by those who competed against her, she dominated the Canadian ladies field until she retired in 1964. In 1967 she married Dr. Don Ballantyne and settled in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The couple have two sons and one daughter.
Bezic is a five-time Canadian Pair Champion with her brother Val Bezic, and represented Canada at the 1972 Olympic Winter Games, placing ninth. She began her skating career as an athlete but then transitioned into a choreographer. Bezic is best known for choreographing such winning programs as, Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini (1984 Worlds), Brian Boitano (1988 Winter Olympics), Kristi Yamaguchi (1992 Winter Olympics), Kurt Browning (1993 Worlds), and Tara Lipinski (1998 Winter Olympics). In 2003 Bezic won an Emmy for her Stars on Ice choreography. Bezic also wrote a book, The Passion to Skate, and has provided colour commentary for both NBC and CBC. Most recently, as co-creator and a producer of the hit CBC series Battle of the Blades, she introduced a whole new audience to the sport she loves.
2010 Induction Ceremony
On Friday, May 27th Skate Canada welcomed William (Bill) Ostapchuk into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame as a builder. He was inducted in front of the Canadian skating community at the 2011 Skate Canada Annual Convention and General Meeting (ACGM) in Charlottetown, P.E.I. For nearly forty years, Ostapchuk worked tirelessly to develop figure skating in Canada. He gave unlimited energy, leadership and commitment to his wide range of volunteer roles with the association.
His daughter Kathy and Skate Canada board members Bill Boland and Ann Shaw all spoke on his many accomplishments and achievements.
A former President and Vice-President of Skate Canada, Ostapchuk helped move skating forward in Canada. One of his key accomplishments was seeing the marketing and sponsorship revenue increase from about $200,000 in 1984 to approximately one million in 1988. He was also the first chair of the Hall of Fame Trust. He now lives with his wife Josephine in Lakefield, Ontario.
On January 22, 2011 after the men’s short program at the 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships, a special Skate Canada Hall of Fame ceremony took place for Dr. Hellmut May, 89, who was officially inducted as a professional.
May emigrated to Canada in 1954 after a successful skating career in Austria. He won numerous national medals with his home country and represented Austria at the Olympic Winter Games in 1936 and 1948, placing 14th and eighth. May settled in Vancouver, British Columbia and began a coaching career. He coached seven skaters to national titles and had many go on to represent Canada at worlds and Olympics.
During the ceremony, Tracy Wilson and Victor Kraatz both spoke on how he enriched their skating careers.
On January 23, 2011 after the conclusion of the men’s event at the 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships, another special Skate Canada Hall of Fame induction took place for Bill Dowding, 89 and Wilf Langevin, 70 who were inducted together in the builder category.
Dowding was the official music technician for Skate Canada from 1968-1999. He also used his skills as a music technician at various world championships and the 1988 Olympics. Langevin acted as the official Skate Canada announcer at skating events from 1966-1999. He was the highly recognizable voice of figure skating at the Canadian Championships during that time.
Current event technician Ross Phelps spoke on how both helped to train other music technicians and announcers. Kurt Browning also asked Langevin to announce him one more time. He obliged and as Browning stepped into the spotlight he tripped – perhaps on purpose!
On October 31, 2010 Skate Canada inducted Ann Shaw as a builder into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. Shaw officially entered the Hall at a ceremony held at the 2010 Skate Canada International competition in Kingston, Ontario.
Shaw has been active in the sport since the age of seven, first as a skater and then she moved on to become a judge and board member. A native of Toronto, Shaw represented Canada at her first ISU World Figure Skating Championships in 1959 and placed fifth with partner Eddie Collins in ice dance. In 1960 she partnered with Gilles Vanesse and placed sixth at the world championships in Vancouver.
A national judge by 1969, she was an international level judge by 1976. She judged her first worlds in 1983 and then judged her first Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia in 1984. In 2002 when the new judging system was being created Shaw was appointed by the ISU to serve on the ISU Ad Hoc Committee whose task was to create the new ISU Judging System. Shaw was in charge of applying the concepts of ice dance to the system and is considered to have had an influential role in creating the new system.
Ice dancers Tracy Wilson, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir all spoke at the ceremony and applauded her work in the sport, specifically her involvement with ice dance.
Shaw is currently Chair of the Skate Canada Hall of Fame and Museum Committee.
On Friday, May 28, 2010 Skate Canada members welcomed one of their own into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. David Dore, former Director General of the Canadian Figure Skating Association, was inducted into the Hall as a builder.
The induction was held in conjunction with the Annual Convention and General Meeting (ACGM) in Toronto, Ontario. Dore was presented with his award in front of 500 skating delegates at the 2010 Skate Canada Achievement Awards Gala and Banquet.
Dore began his love affair with skating as a young child when he was diagnosed with polio. Skating became part of his recovery from the disease and soon became a huge part of his life. Dore would later go on to become a national medalist and then an Olympic judge for the sport. He was a Canadian official for singles and pair skating and officiated at seven World Championships and at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games. In 1980 Dore was elected as the youngest President of the Association and was the first President to be re-elected for a second term in 1982.
Dore has already been inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and is a recipient of The International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Order. On Friday he described this honour as “the cherry on top of the cake.”
2008 Induction Ceremonies
Skate Canada will honour two legendary sports journalists in Toronto today (October 17, 2008); the late George Gross and the late Jim Proudfoot. Both will be inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame at the 13th Annual Sports Media Canada Achievements Awards held in Toronto, Ontario at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
Gross began his Canadian journalism career at the Toronto Telegram. In 1971 he became the sports editor for the Toronto Sun where he was one of the founders. He held this position until 1985 when he became the corporate sports editor of Sun Media, a position he held until his passing. Gross was also a member of the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame Selection Committee from 1992-1996 and the author of the book “Donald Jackson King of Blades”.
Known to his colleagues as The Baron, the long-time former Sun sports editor was well-known in hockey and Olympic circles. Gross covered seven World Cup soccer tournaments, eight World Hockey Championships, 12 Olympic Games and 14 Wimbledon Tennis Championships.
Legendary Toronto Star journalist Jim Proudfoot has had an influential voice in sports media dating back to 1954 when he started at the Star. Proudfoot is highly regarded for his coverage of sports over the decades, most notably for his exposure of figure skating. Proudfoot is a pioneer of the sport as his coverage helped take figure skating off the social pages and into the sports section.
In 1955, Proudfoot began his affair with figure skating when he covered the Canadian Championships. His first international figure skating assignment would come in 1959 at the North American Championships held in Toronto, Ont. That same year he would also cover his first ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Colorado Springs, US.
Skate Canada held a second induction ceremony to honour 2008 inductees, Donald Knight and Marijane Stong at the 2010 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario. On January 17, 2010 Knight and Stong were officially inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame.
Donald Knight, a long-time ambassador for the sport, was inducted in the Athlete category. Knight won his first Canadian Junior title in 1961 at just 13 years of age. He then moved into the senior ranks and captured his first senior title in 1964, a title he held until 1967. A native of Dundas, Ontario, Knight represented Canada at numerous international competitions. He won bronze at the 1964 ISU World Figure Skating Championships and placed ninth at the 1964 Winter Olympic Games.
A master of the compulsory figures, Knight’s legendary work ethic enabled him to become an all-round skater, incorporating powerful jumps, spins and intricate footwork into his programs. He continued his career by touring professionally with Holiday on Ice and Ice Capades.
Inducted in theProfessional category, Marijane Strong is one of the most respected female coaches and choreographer in figure skating. She was the first female coach in Canada to become NCCP Level 4 Certified, and she created the concept of packaging programs with music, choreography and costumes all working together seamlessly. Stong attended six Olympic Winter Games as a coach of both ice dance and pair teams. Her highlight came in 1988 when her Canadian ice dance champions, Tracy Wilson and Rob McCall, won the Olympic bronze medal in Calgary.
Known for introducing vocal music in a free dance and using role reversal in her choreography, these quickly became her trademarks. Serving as Skate Canada’s National Coach Consultant since 1999, Marijane continues to influence the current generation of skaters.
2007 Induction Ceremonies
Three new inductees were welcomed into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame at the 2007 BMO Financial Group Canadian Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 2003 ISU World Ice Dance Champions, and 10-time Canadian Champions Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz and ice dance legend Bernard Ford were honoured at the ceremony.
A tearful Shae-Lynn Bourne took the ice at the Metro Centre in Halifax to officially be inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame with partner Victor Kraatz. The ice dancers represented Canada for over 10 years internationally and were greeted with a standing ovation by the crowd.
“I thought about all the championships, all the tours, all the people that helped us along the way. I think mainly because Shae and I were on the ice, on the carpet at the same time the tears came. So that was a great reunion,” said Kraatz.
Also being inducted was Bernard Ford a British citizen who moved to Canada in 1971. After moving to Canada he became a renounced coach, choreographer, judge, consult and a technical instructor. He started the York Region Skating Academy. His most notable students were ice dancers and Olympic medalists Tracy Wilson and Rob McCall.
2006 Induction Ceremonies
The 2002 Olympic Pair Champions, Jamie Salé and David Pelletier, will be the special guest performers in the Parade of Champions at the conclusion of the 2008 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships.
On Sunday, January 20th, 2008, just prior to the Parade of Champions, Salé and Pelletier will be inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. Following the official ceremony, they will don their skates and participate with the top Junior and Senior skaters in Canada in the exhibition program. This marks the first time that Skate Canada Hall of Fame inductees will have the opportunity to skate immediately following their induction.
“Vancouver holds a very special place in our hearts, because we won the World Championships there in 2001. Being inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame in that city will be a special moment”, said Jamie Salé. “It is also very exciting for us to be able to participate in the Parade of Champions with the current group of dynamic Canadian skaters.” David Pelletier added, “We are proud to have represented our country as Canadian champions and it means a lot to us to be considered members of the Skate Canada alumni. This is our opportunity to stay involved with the sport we love, to help promote skating, and to encourage our young skaters to pursue their dreams of becoming World and Olympic champions.”
From 2000 to 2002, Jamie Salé and David Pelletier won three consecutive Canadian Pair Championships. They were the 2001 ISU World Figure Skating Champions, winning the event in Vancouver, and went on to win the Gold Medal at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
Since retiring from eligible competition they have continued skating professionally, working with young skaters from their home base in Edmonton, and are the proud parents of a baby boy, Jesse, born this past September.
(L-R) Hall of Fame Committee Chair Hillary Baker, Pat Silverthorne and Dennis Silverthorne Junior with portrait of Skate Canada Hall of Fame inductee Dennis Silverthorne, Skate Canada President Marilyn Chidlow
At a special ceremony during the 2006 Skate Canada Achievement Awards Gala, Dennis Silverthorne was posthumously inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. Silverthorne, who passed away in 2004, was inducted into the builder category as a coach. His wife, Pat Silverthorne, was at the ceremony to accept the honour on his behalf. The event took place on May 26, 2006 at the Skate Canada Annual Convention and General Meeting in Markham, Ont.
After settling in Canada in the 1950s, Silverthorne became a successful figure skating coach. He worked as a coach at the Schumacher Summer Skating School from 1951-1958. A highlight of his coaching career came at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in 1963, at which he coached former Canadian Champion Donald McPherson to the World Championship title.
Silverthorne, who was born in Brighton, England, was a British national champion in the pair category with his sister Winifred Silverthorne and a British national silver medallist in men’s singles. The Silverthornes placed fifth in the pair event at the 1948 Winter Olympic Games. They also placed fourth and sixth, respectively, at the 1947 and 1948 ISU World Figure Skating Championships.
2005 Induction Ceremonies
Two new inductees were welcomed into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame at the 2005 BMO Financial Group Canadian Championships in London, Ont. on January 23, 2005.
Louis Stong and Dr. Charles Snelling – both key figures in Canadian figure skating – were honoured by the recognition.
“Of course, I am terribly honoured. It’s a very humbling experience, and I was just thrilled when I heard the news.” said Stong.
Stong, who was inducted into the builder category, has had many roles within Skate Canada throughout his career. A former skater and member of the 1960 world team, Stong began coaching at the age of 19. He went on to guide Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini to five national titles from 1979-1983 and a gold medal at the 1984 International Skating Union (ISU) World Championships.
Stong coached Kurt Browning in 1993 to his fourth World Championship title, and he also coached Browning at the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Other Canadian Champions who were under Stong’s tutelage include Kay Thompson, Josée Chouinard and Karen Preston.
An active volunteer and administrator throughout his coaching career, Stong was hired by Skate Canada in 1999 as the Director of Skating Development, a role in which he coordinates the development, implementation and monitoring of athlete development across the country.
“It’s a surprise and an honour because there have been a lot of accomplished skaters in the country,” said Dr. Snelling.“It’s a very exciting thing.”
Dr. Snelling, who was honoured in the athlete category, was a six-time Canadian Champion, seven-time world team member and a member of the Olympic team in both 1956 and 1964.
Capturing five consecutive national titles from 1954-1958, Dr. Snelling retired from the sport in 1958 to attend the University of Toronto. Following his graduation from the University of Toronto medical school in 1962, Dr. Snelling returned to figure skating and went on to win his sixth national title in 1964.
Dr. Snelling also won the bronze medal at the 1957 ISU World Figure Skating Championships.
“To be able to earn a place on the 1964 Olympic team after having been away from competitive skating for six years was a thrilling thing,” said Dr. Snelling. “Winning the national title in 1964 was something I didn’t expect.”
2004 Induction Ceremonies
Elvis Stojko was inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame in the athlete category at the 2004 BMO Financial Group Canadian Championships in Edmonton, Alberta on January 11, 2004.
This three time World Champion from Richmond Hill, has been making history for more than a decade. He earned his first national title in 1988 when he became the Canadian Junior Men’s Champion and his first senior national title in 1994. He went on to win the national crown from 1996-2000 and again in 2002 making a total of seven senior national titles in all.
At his first World Championships in 1991 Elvis became the first athlete ever to complete a quadruple jump combination in World competition and in 1997 at the Champions Series Final in Hamilton he set a new record by becoming the first athlete to complete a quadruple/triple combination.
Competing in his first Olympics in 1992 in Albertville, Elvis made his mark by finishing 7th. That same year he won his first World medal – a bronze. A year later he moved on step up the podium in Prague to win a World silver medal. In 1994 in Lillehammer he claimed the Olympic silver medal and went on to win his first World Championship Gold medal a few weeks later in Japan. He was awarded the 1994 Lionel Conacher Award for Athlete of the Year by the Canadian Press as well as the Norton H. Crowe Award for Canadian Male Athlete of the Year.
2003 Induction Ceremonies
Four new inductees were welcomed into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame at the 2003 BMO Financial Group Canadian Championships in Saskatoon on January 12, 2003.
"It's a great honour to have been nominated and selected for the Hall of Fame," said Graham. "I never could have dreamed that I would be inducted into the Hall of Fame."
The inductees included Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall, Barbara Graham and Michael Jiranek. McCall's mother, Evelyn McCall, was on-hand for the ceremony to accept the honour on behalf of her son.
"To receive a standing ovation is something a skater can relate to, but for us behind the scenes it's a new feeling," said Jiranek.
Both Graham and Jiranek were honoured in the builder category, and Wilson and McCall were honoured in the athlete category.
Graham was a former Junior Pair Champion and international judge. She served as Technical Director of the then Canadian Figure Skating Association for almost 20 years. She had a tremendous influence on skating in this country, as she took the lead in skater development and training courses, organizing and conducting national training seminars for singles, pairs and dance. Graham also oversaw judges' and coaches' clinics and workshops.
Jiranek, a former Czechoslovakian Novice Men's Champion and former national and international competitor, moved to Canada at age 21. After earning an Engineering degree from the University of Calgary, Jiranek became a full-time coach.
In 1980, after he moved to Edmonton, Alta., he met a young Kurt Browning, who asked him for suggestions on his skating. Jiranek soon became Browning's full-time coach, and ended-up guiding him to three consecutive World Championships from 1989 to 1991.
Jiranek, who, like all the inductees, received a standing ovation from the Saskatchewan Place crowd, was thrilled with his induction.
"We really balanced each other out,"said Wilson. "Nobody trained harder than him. We just found a way to make the most of our talents. The ceremony was a very emotional moment."
Wilson and McCall are one of the most well-known ice dance teams in Canadian history. The couple won seven consecutive Canadian titles from 1982 to 1988, and they also captured the bronze medal at the World Championships in both 1987 and 1988. In addition, their unforgettable performance at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary earned them the Olympic bronze medal.
They are currently the only Canadian ice dancers to make it to the Olympic podium. They retired after the 1988 World Championships, and went on to compete on the professional circuit, until McCall's unfortunate death in 1991.
2001 Induction Ceremonies
Three Athletes, two Coaches and one Builder were named into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame on May 26, 2000. Honours were presented this year to our latest Inductees.
Elizabeth Manley, Debbi Wilkes and Guy Revell, Sonya and Peter Dunfield, were honoured during the 2001 Bank of Montreal Canadian Championships in Winnipeg in January.
Builder Joe Geisler was posthumously inducted to the Hall of Fame during the June 2001 Annual General Meeting in Saint John, New Brunswick. Michel Denis, Mr. Geisler's nephew, accepted this honour on his behalf.
Debbi Wilkes originally from Unionville, Ontario and Guy Revell, of Newmarket, Ontario were junior national champions in 1959, their first season skating together. They were two-time Canadian pairs champions in 1963 and 1964. Debbi and Guy also had international success winning the 1963 North American Championship crown in 1963 and a silver medal at the 1964 Olympics. Together they pioneered the double loop twist.
Guy turned professional after their retirement in 1964. He skated with the Ice Capades, the Ice Follies, and Holiday on Ice, and taught at the Coquitilam Skating Club near Vancouver before his passing March 11, 1981.
Debbi left amateur skating and completed degrees in psychology and communications. After graduation she pursued a career in broadcasting. She has provided colour commentary for various television networks, covering Canadian Championships and Olympic Games. Debbi also hosted her own show Ice Time on CTV Sportsnet. In addition, Debbi coached, authored two books, and worked with "Female Athletes Motivating Excellence."
Elizabeth Manley of Gloucester, Ontario was also named to the Hall of Fame. Elizabeth was three time Canadian Champion in 1985, 1987 and 1988, and won silver medals at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, AB and the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. She was also made a Member to the Order of Canada and inducted into the Canadian Amateur Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.
After her back-to-back silver finishes, Manley retired from amateur skating and signed with the Ice Capades. She is currently still touring on the professional circuit.
Sonya and Peter Dunfield who coached Elizabeth Manley to her three national titles, Olympic and World silver medals, were inducted in the coach category.
Involved in skating for over 50 years, Sonya was a medallist in two World Championships and participated in the 1952 Olympic Games for the U.S. Sonya is currently coaching throughout the United States.
Peter was awarded the Longines-Wittnauer Coaching Excellence Award in 1988 and the Wittnauer Coaching Excellence Award in 1994, both presented by the Coaching Association of Canada. He was named CFSA Coach of the Year in 1993, and the Professional Skaters Guild of America Coach of the Year in 1994.
Joe Geisler, better known at "Mr. Skating" rounds out the inductions. His activity as a builder includes a long list of achievements in skating on the local, regional and national level.
Geisler served twice as Chairman of the Eastern Canada Section, from 1958-59 and 1962-63. On the national level Geisler served as a CFSA Executive member and on numerous committees from 1957 to 1977, and was CFSA vice-president in 1969-1970.
He was awarded the Canadian Centennial Medal for his involvement in skating in 1967, became an honourary life member of the Quebec Section in 1973, was appointed to the Quebec Section Hall of Fame in 1977 and was appointed as an honourary member of the CFSA in 1978.
2000 Induction Ceremonies
January 30 was a great day in Calgary, Alberta. Close to 12,000 people watched as the four newest inductees of the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame were honoured at the 2000 Bank of Montreal Canadian Championships. The ceremonies took place at centre-ice immediately following the senior dance final in Calgary's Saddledome, home of the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Kurt Browning, Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, and Tom Collins were welcomed into the Hall by Canadian Figure Skating President, Betty Bouma and Hall of Fame Chair, Hillary Baker. Citations were read as each inductee came on the ice to be presented with their portrait, drawn by Ottawa artist Elaine Goble.
"This is possibly the biggest thrill I've ever had in my life" said Tom Collins, former northern Ontario novice men's champ and Champions on Ice tour producer. Despite a tight schedule for all the inductees -- Kurt, Isabelle and Lloyd had shows to perform in on Saturday and Monday nights with Stars on Ice and Champions on Ice, respectively -- they were all able to be in Calgary in person for their induction.
Kurt said a few words of thanks and appreciation to the audience at the conclusion of the ceremony and received deafening cheers and a standing ovation from his home-province crowd.
"The feedback was very positive and I think this format works very well," said Hillary Baker, "It allows these individuals to be honoured by their fans and supporters who feel a part of the tribute."