If you are at all interested in figure skating and its history, be sure to check out the IceStage Archive. This website is the work of Roy Blakey, a former show skater who has a vast collection of ice show memorabilia and conducts research into its history. His website provides a fascinating look at the theatrical side of figure skating from the very first ice shows through the golden age of touring to the present day. I learned about the IceStage Archive through an October New York Times article.
As a skater growing up in the ’90s and ’00s, I never knew ice shows in their heyday, and learning how popular they used to be makes me a little sad. I am used to seeing Olympic champions on cereal boxes and Sports Illustrated, but it is difficult for me to imagine a time where skaters were featured in glamorous movies and audiences lined up to see ice musicals and ballets on Broadway or in Vegas. My generation came at the end of an era in skating, and I’m glad I got to see at least a bit of it, but it is unfortunate that skaters growing up now will experience even less, and that today’s professionals don’t have the same kind of opportunities they did in the past.
I really don’t want to end this post on a negative note, though, so I will add that there is a lot of cool stuff going on in skating right now that was inconceivable even a decade ago. I am particularly appreciative of the fact that for the past four years, the top two ice dancing teams in the world have both been North American, and that synchronized skating has become so popular that the 2013 Synchro Worlds in Boston (which I was lucky enough to attend) was sold out months before the event. There is definitely a lot to get excited about in figure skating right now; it just so happens that none of it involves ice shows.
Mr. Blakey’s collection has also inspired a documentary “The Fabulous Ice Age” by his niece Keri Pickett. It is currently being shown at film festivals, and unfortunately, I have not yet had the opportunity to see it.