Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Getting reacquainted with an old friend

While perusing the titles of ice skating books on Amazon I stumbled across a familiar sounding title.  I clicked on the link and up popped the image below:  Robert S. Ogilvie's classic figure skating book Basic Ice Skating Skills.  Ogilvie, an instructor at the Ice Club of Baltimore wrote this book in the mid-1960s at the urging of the United States Figure Skating Association.  This book is perhaps the earliest example of a modern era "how to skate" book aimed at adults and marks the beginning of an outreach attempt that continues to this day.  The USFSA wisely recognized that figure skating was not the exclusive domain of competitive youth skaters but instead is a life sport that many ages can enjoy.  This is the very same book which was the assigned reading material for students taking figure skating classes back when I skated at the University of Delaware.  I’d lost (loaned and never got back) my copy from my student days and as soon as I saw this picture of the cover slob sentimentality kicked in and I clicked the "buy" button.  My “new” old book arrived yesterday and a quick turn of the pages reveals that while the hair and clothing styles have changed over the years, the ice and the elements executed upon it haven’t changed much.  All the basic stuff is there: how to get a good boot fit, how to get up from a fall, descriptions of all the common elements such as edges, spins, turns, and jumps.  There are even a couple of short chapters on compulsory figures (this was after all, back in the day) and ice dance.  All this for a cover price of $2.50!  Text books were much cheaper back when I was a boy.  OK, I paid $7.99 for my second copy of Ogilvie’s book, which included shipping from South Dakota, but even so I consider it a bargain and anticipate a good read over several evenings.  Maybe Ogilvie can do a better job of explaining how to get a good initial push for those pesky back inside edges I'm working on. The two current books I've been reading just aren't providing the mind spark that permits that leap from written word to performance on the ice. I wonder if he's still around?  A quick internet search suggests that the Ice Club of Baltimore is long gone, but perhaps it reinvented itself as the Figure Skating Club of Baltimore, which does have a web presence.  Does anyone in the blogosphere know the rest of the story?  If so, please chime in with a comment!

$2.50 for a large format paperback text book.  What price would you pay to buy back your youth?


  1. I have 2 copies of that book! It's really a great book. I love it, it's very helpful.

    Push to BI edge is about the trickiest push you'll ever have to do. All I can suggest without having seen you do it is... you *really* have to bend your knees to get a good push; and you really have to turn your soon-to-be-skating foot out so that you are on a good BI edge. If you look at the print (it never lies) unfortunately too often you'll see yourself on a BO edge that then flips to a BI edge. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for the input Gordon. Since I posted this back in October, I've met a woman at my rink who is currently a skating judge and also trained with Ogilvie back in the 1960s. She indicates that he is still alive (he's in his 90s) and the old ice club of Baltimore has been reborn as The Reisterstown figure skating club: It's nice to know that this old club's traditions live on at a new location.