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Madge Syers - A Profile of the World's First Ladies Olympic Skating Champion


Madge Syers - 1908 Olympic Figure Skating Champion Does the Two-Foot Pirouette

Madge Syers - 1908 Olympic Figure Skating Champion Does the Two-Foot Pirouette

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First Ladies Olympic Figure Skating Champion:

Madge Syers, the first Olympic ladies figure skating champion, actually won her title at the 1908 Summer Olympic Games which took place in London, England, since figure skating was first a part of the summer games. At that same Olympics, she won a bronze medal in the pair skating event with her husband and coach, Edgar Syers, but only three pair teams competed in the 1908 Olympics.

Early Life and Skating:

Florence Madeline Cave was born on September 16, 1881 and was the fourth daughter of fifteen children. Her father was a wealthy British farmer and property speculator, so she enjoyed doing sports done by young and privileged women in England at the time. In addition to ice skating, she took part in horse back riding and swimming. Weekly, she skated at the Prince's Skating Club in Knightsbridge with her sisters.

The “English Style of Skating” was done in Britain at the time. Figure skating competitions were not separated into men's and women's categories then and the emphasis was on figures, which were designs created on the ice.

Edgar Syers - Husband and Pair Skating Partner:

At the Prince's Skating Club, Madeline met Edgar Syers. He was eighteen years older than her and was an accomplished skater and coach. He also was an advocate of the new International Style of Skating which the America figure skater, Jackson Haines, had introduced to the ice skaters in Europe. The International Style incorporated ballet and dance movements into ice skating. Madge and Edgar Syers were married in June of 1899. She died when she was only thirty-five years old.

1902 World Figure Skating Championships Controversy:

Madge Syers changed figure skating since a women's only was added to figure skating competitions after Syers entered and competed against men at the 1902 World Figure Skating Championships. There was no rule at the time that said women could not compete against men. Her presence at the 1902 World Figure Skating Championships caused much controversy since it was decided that judges could not fairly judge or compare women and men skaters.

Two-Time World Figure Skating Champion:

After Syers won silver at the controversial 1902 World Figure Skating Championships, the ISU International Skating Union created separate single skating events for men and women. Syers won the 1906 and 1907 world ladies figure skating titles. At first, figure skating competitions for ladies were not held at the same time or locations as the men's events.

Author of Two Books:

Madge Syers and her husband, Edgar, wrote two books together. The Book of Winter Sports was published in 1908, and their second book, The Art of Skating: International Style, was published in 1913.

Excerpt From The Art of Skating: International Style:

A Good Programme - By Madge Syers, 1913

The details of a programme usually consist of an entrance spiral on any edge which brings the skater to the middle of the rink, then may follow a waltz, or some figure which can be skated in the centre of the rink, and here it may be said that it is not a good practice to get near the barrier or boundary of a rink when free skating. Many folks appear to be gradually drawn towards the boundary, and once there, to be unable to get away again ; they are like Chuchundra, the musk-rat who, in Mr. Kipling's delightful story, is always trying to make up his mind to run into the middle of the room, but never gets there.

The next item should be a step which will follow a line across the rink, this to be followed by a jump or a pirouette on one or both toes.

In this way the skater will fill the rink while keeping away from the boundary. All figures should be skated with plenty of swing and " go," but without hurry ; each movement should be given its value, and music is a great help to this end.

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