Dear Dr. Rossano,
I have noted with interest your article "Dancing on Ice", which was recently posted to Tom Sobell's website. It is an excellent article, which has, however, one major historical error in it, which I thought I would bring to your attention:
In the fifth paragraph, the last sentence reads as follows: "The International Style came to the US in the early 1900's thanks largely to the efforts of Irving Brokaw".
The person who was actually responsible for the introduction of the International Style into the US was George H. Browne of the Cambridge (MA) Skating Club. It was he who first went to Europe, studied the style in St. Moritz, Switzerland and elsewhere, wrote the first instructional books on it in North America and then introduced it through a series of exhibitions in the Boston area in 1908 in which Brokaw did indeed participate at Browne's invitation.
Brokaw was basically Browne's "demonstrator" and he would later that year compete in the figure skating events in London at the 1908 Olympic Games. He never took any credit himself for introducing the International Style, but because he was a well known skater and Browne was not, the latter has been forgotten.
Browne was the founder and headmaster of a boy's preparatory school in Cambridge called the Browne & Nichols School, which was
attended by many well known local Boston skaters, including Sherwin Badger, George Hill and Ted Goodridge, all National champions. Browne was their "amateur"
coach. Actually, Sherwin was six times the national senior champion and the
first North American champion in 1923.
There is a lot more I could tell you about Browne, such as his efforts to form a national governing body prior to World War I,
after the demise of the National Amateur Skating Association, the governing body
in the American Style, and his role in founding The Skating Club of Boston in
1911. It should be noted that the person considered to have introduced the International Style in Canada is Louis Rubenstein, who collaborated closely with Browne in the period between 1900 and the first World War.
As always we value the comments of Ben Wright for helping to keep the facts straight.
The reference to Brokaw in "Dancing on Ice" was an afterthought and only added to indicate the time frame when the International Style was introduced into the U.S. Irving Brokaw was mentioned due to his role as a prominent skater of the period (1906 U.S. Champion in the American Style) who competed in the National Amateur Skating Association and later adopted the International Style; and because of his "promotion" of the International Style in his book "The Art of Skating" which was first published in 1910. But it was indeed George Browne who got the ball rolling as Ben Wright points out. It seems that even 100 years ago the famous skaters were getting all the credit for everything!
Brokaw was a devoted supporter of skating and in addition to writing about the sport was a skating judge.
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