Sequins, Scandals & Salchows

Figure Skating in the 1980s

Non-Fiction - Sports
284 Pages
Reviewed on 07/02/2024
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Author Biography

Ryan Stevens lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has been an authority on the history of figure skating for over a decade. His blog Skate Guard has thousands of readers around the world. "Midwest Book Review" calls his work "informative, lively, and scholarly." Ryan has written for Skating magazine and U.S. Figure Skating and has been consulted on figure skating history by museums and television programs on CBC, NBC and ITV. His books include "Jackson Haines: The Skating King" and "Technical Merit: A History of Figure Skating Jumps".

    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

In his book Sequins, Scandals & Salchows, Ryan Stevens takes us back to the world of figure skating around the 1980s. This includes but is by no means limited to Swiss coach Gerschwiler criticizing judging standards, specifically referencing Vladimir Kovalev's technique, Holiday on Ice co-founder Morris D. Chalfen's passing, and Soviet coach Zhuk leaning toward cultural influence in his training methods. We remember Fritz Greiger's sudden death, Dorothy Glazier Dodson and Stephen Tanner commemorating their skating achievements in Vermont, and Canadian star Kurt Browning making his international debut. Developments in skating are noted worldwide, including in Australia, Japan, North Korea, and the Soviet Union. The U.S. saw advancements in skating facilities and organizational changes within the USFSA. Stevens discusses musical and cultural aspects of skating, along with innovations in fashion, technology, and training methods, and includes results, rankings, and photography throughout.

The two main reasons I was interested in Sequins, Scandals & Salchows: Figure Skating in the 1980s by Ryan Stevens were because, first, I grew up in a country where figure skating wasn't even shown on TV, and, second, my wife was a skater from 1987 – 1998, and I kind of needed to check it out. The book is exceptionally well constructed both visually and in how it is written. Stevens does well in crafting an accessible reference even for a novice such as myself. I found the most interesting part to be a Behind the Scenes section, and learning about what was referred to as the 'Flea and Gorilla' trend, where there was a massive height disparity between female and male partners in pairs skating. I almost fell over laughing when Stevens said that German skater Hans-Jürgen Bäumler complained that the discipline had devolved into “children’s long-distance throwing.” Everything about this delicious basket of facts and photos is a triumph. I'm now so obsessed with 80s skating that I've resorted to grainy videos online and am loving every minute, after loving every page of Stevens' book. Very highly recommended.