One of the most important activities of The Skating Club of Boston through the years has been its annual carnival, now called “Ice Chips.” No single event has done more to preserve the unity and homogeneity of the Club membership than the annual carnival, which is unique in the world of figure skating. The Club was the first to present a complete ice carnival in the International Style to the public, starting in 1911 before the Club was formally incorporated.
-Benjamin Wright, Club Historian and former U.S. Figure Skating President
Ice Carnival History
Now entering its second century, Ice Chips is the oldest continuing figure skating carnival in the world and has played a huge part in The Skating Club of Boston’s history. The Club’s first ice carnival was presented in 1911. During the 1920s and 1930s, the ice carnivals served as touring shows for the East Coast’s premiere skaters. The revenue from these shows was used to fund the construction of the Club’s rink on Soldiers Field Road in 1938, where it stands today. In 1946 we adopted the name “Ice Chips.” Before its 7-year run at Harvard University’s Bright Arena, the Club’s signature event has been held in some of Boston’s most historic venues, including the old Boston Arena, Northeastern University’s Matthews Arena, Boston University’s Walter Brown Arena, and the original Boston Garden.
The Skating Club of Boston is immensely proud to have donated revenues from the shows to various charities over the last 80 years including Children’s Hospital of Boston and Make-a-Wish Foundation. In the past several years, almost 2000 Girl Scouts have attended the show. Many of them were so inspired by what they saw they signed up for their own skating lessons. In addition to the 400 skaters in Ice Chips, over 200 volunteers work behind the scenes to make Ice Chips the best ever year after year.
Today’s stars continue in the footsteps of some of the sport’s most famous names. The legendary Sonja Henie made her professional debut in the 1936 show, having previously performed with Karl Schaefer in the 1934 show “The Cruise of the S.S. Arena.” In addition to the Club’s own Olympic champions Dick Button and Tenley Albright, Ice Chips fans have been entertained by the exploits of skating icons and World and Olympic Champions such as Donald Jackson, Barbara Ann Scott, Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Yuka Sato, Alexei Yagudin, Stephane Lambiel, Kurt Browning, Jeffrey Buttle, ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, pairs Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, Evan Lysacek and Javier Fernández .
The Skating Club of Boston’s History
By Benjamin T. Wright
The year 2016 marks the 104th anniversary of The Skating Club of Boston, making it the third oldest skating club in continuous existence in U.S. Figure Skating. The history of the Club is one of long and active service to the social and sporting interests of Boston, in addition to representing a great contribution to the sport of figure skating on the national and international level. Founded in 1911 and incorporated in 1912, the Club, after many years at the Boston Arena, was a pioneer in building its own rink in 1938; one of the first and still one of the few skating clubs in country to be in that fortunate position.
The Club’s great contributions to the advancement and growth of figure skating as a popular sport have been three fold. The first contribution is the many champion skaters from the Club who have won national and international honors. These skaters have included Theresa Weld Blanchard, the first North American and National ladies champion, Tenley Albright, the first World and Olympic ladies champion from the United States, as well as Maribel Vinson, Suzanne Davis, Joan Tozzer, Laurence Owen and Lorraine Hanlon, all National ladies champions.
Among the men there have been Dick Button, America’s first World and Olympic champion, as well as Nathaniel Niles, Sherwin Badger, Roger Turner and Bradley Lord, National champions all.
The second contribution of the Club to the sport has been its annual carnival, now called “Ice Chips”. In its early carnivals the Club developed many of the techniques used in professional shows today. Ice Chips and its predecessor carnivals have brought to the public virtually all of the most famous stars of the skating world, while at the same time demonstrating that figure skating is also a family sport in which people of all ages can actively participate.
The names of the great skaters who have appeared in the carnival over the years are legion! Among them have been, before World War II, Gillis Grafström, Sonja Henie, Karl Schäfer, Andrée and Pierre Brunet, Maxi Herber and Ernst Baier, Olympic champions all and Cecilia Colledge and Felix Kaspar, World champions.
Since then, the major champions who have appeared in the carnival have included Dick Button, Barbara Ann Scott, Tenley Albright, Hayes and Davis Jenkins, Carol Heiss, Sjoukje Dijkstra, Donald Jackson, Barbara Wagner and Robert Paul, Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Charles Tickner, Elaine Zayak, Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Kurt Browning, Yuka Sato, Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden, Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Alexei Yagudin, Stephane Lambiel and Jeffrey Buttle, all of whom have been World or Olympic champions or both. In recent years the carnival has always also included rising young stars, such as Jennifer Kirk, World Junior ladies champion in 2000 and Stephen Carriere, World Junior champion in 2007.
The third contribution of the Club to the sport is a less glamorous but most vital one; the administration of the sport, both nationally through service to USFS and internationally to the International Skating Union (ISU). Among Club members and former Club members who have served as president of USFS are A. Winsor Weld, the first president, Sherwin Badger, Charles M. Rotch, Benjamin T. Wright, Hugh C. Graham, Jr., Franklin S. Nelson and Charles U. Foster. Many members of the Club have served in positions of importance in both USFS and the ISU.
The record is an impressive one and is closely interwoven with the history of the sport in North America. It can be said that Ice Chips best exemplifies the tradition and contributions of the Club to the sport, emphasizing as it does the combination of outstanding skaters and full participation by the members, young and old alike, while at the same time presenting unequaled entertainment to the public, unrivaled anywhere in the contemporary skating world.