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2015 World Figure Skating Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Inductees form largest class since 1993

 by George Rossano


Russian Olympic champions Artur Dmitriev and pairs partners Natalia Mishkutionok and Oksana Kazakova lead a class of eight new inductees to the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Also elected was Italyís Sonia Bianchetti Garbato, who joins "Legends" June Markham and Doreen Denny of Great Britain, Austriaís Eduard Engelmann Jr. and Great Britainís Henry Eugene Vandervell, who both are honored posthumously.

Dmitriev, a three-time Olympic medalist, is the only man to win two Olympic gold medals in pairs with different partners. Dmitriev and Mishkutionok won the 1992 Olympic gold medal competing for the Unified Team and the 1994 Olympic silver medal competing for Russia. Dmitriev and Mishkutionok are two-time World champions (1991, 1992) and two-time European champions (1991, 1992). After Mishkutionok retired in 1994, Dmitriev paired with Kazakova, whose injured leg caused them to miss much of their first season. Dmitriev and Kazakova returned strong in the 1995-96 season, winning the 1996 European Championships, and were fifth at the World Championships.  They placed third at the 1997 World Championships and in 1998 won the Olympic gold medal competing for Russia.

Bianchetti Garbato will be inducted for her outstanding contributions in a nonathletic role. She served as a member and chairman of the International Skating Unionís Figure Skating Committee from 1967 to 1988 and was an ISU Council member from 1988 to 1992. Bianchetti Garbato was the first female referee at an ISU championship, the first woman elected to the ISU Figure Skating Technical Committee, the first female chair of the tech committee and the first woman to be elected to the ISU Council. Bianchetti Garbato was a judge at every Olympic Winter Games from 1964 to 1988.

The hall's Legends Committee, which considers contributions in 1960 and prior, selected British ice dancers Markham and Denny, Austriaís Engelmann Jr. (1864-1944), and Great Britainís Vandervell (1824-1908).

Markham and Denny were partners of 1986 hall-of-famer Courtney Jones, Markham in 1956 through 1958, and Denny in 1959 through 1961.  Each won two World championships with Jones,  Markham in 1957 and 1958, and Denny in 1959 and 1960.  Markhan and Jones won the 1961 European Championships, but did not compete at the World Championships which were cancelled due to the crash of the U.S. World Team flight on the way to Prague that year.

Engelmann, a three-time European champion (1892-94), invented the outdoor artificial ice rink in Vienna in 1909, which forever changed the sport.

Engelmann studied engineering at the Vienna University of Technology, specializing in railway engineering. In 1909, he built the first outdoor artificial ice rink, which was established as an ice rink by his father Eduard Engelmann Sr. in Vienna. Prior to that time a few artificial rinks had been built indoors, often associated with ice manufacturing plants.  In 1912 he built what was at the time the largest artificial ice rink in Europe. The rink was improved on in later years and by 1932 the ice rink covered 3,000 square meters. (An Olympic size ice rink is about 1,800 square meters.)  He built another rink in Budapest in 1922.

 Engelmann had three children, all of whom became ice skaters, one of whom (Helene) was 1924 Olympic Pairs Champion, and another (Christine) married Austrian champion Karl Schaefer.  Schaefer began skating on the original Engelmann rink, and after WW II he participated in rebuilding the rink, which had been destroyed during the war.

Vandervell authored the influential book A System of Figure-Skating in 1869 with co-author T. Maxwell Witham, who were members of the London Skating Club, and is credited with establishing proficiency tests which marked the first step toward the test structures still employed today.  Covering the early history of skating as known at the time, this book describes the English Style and practices of skating, and the early development of figures.  Ultimately, these figures were to form the basis for the British figure tests that were later adopted by the ISU after its formation in 1892.  The English style of skating was ultimately replaced by the International style developed by Jackson Haines in the 1870s.