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Figure skating and ice hockey’s Summer Games start

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 16:  Lasse Kukkonen #5 and Tuukka Rask #40 of Finland react after a goal that was disallowed by the referee in the first period during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game on day nine of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 16, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Bizarrely, both figure skating and ice hockey owe their Olympic history to the Summer Games.

Figure skating is the oldest Olympic discipline from the Winter Games, making its debut in London all the way back in 1908.

Among the gold medallists were Russian skater Nikolai Panin, who won the men’s special figures title.

Four years later, Panin represented his country at the Games in Stockholm but this time in the 50m pistol competition where he finished outside the medals, placing eighth.

His achievements were commemorated 37 years after his death with a 50 ruble coin in his honour, appearing alongside the Olympic rings and flame, as well as a pair of ice skates.

Another gold medallist was Britain’s Madge Syers, who made her name by winning a silver in the World Figure Skating Championships against an otherwise all-male line-up.

At London 1908, she struck gold in the ladies singles and bronze alongside husband Edgar in the pairs. In retirement, the couple penned a book together, The Art of Skating (International Style), while Syers is often referred to as “the mother of ice skating”.

Figure skating experienced a hiatus from the Olympics for the fifth and sixth Olympiads but returned to the Summer Games Antwerp 1920 where Swedish skater Gillis Grafström won the men’s title, and defended it four years later at the first Olympic Winter Games.

In so doing, he became the first man in history to win gold at both the Summer and Winter Games, a feat emulated by Eddie Eagan (pictured), although Eagan doubled up in boxing and bobsleigh for his double gold.

At Antwerp 1920, ice hockey also made its Olympic bow although it proved a one-sided affair as Canada, represented by the Winnipeg Falcons, comfortably won gold. The final was far from close, the Canadians beating Sweden 12-1.

But figure skating and ice hockey took place in those 1920 Games in April with the weather still cold enough while the rest of the events were competed in August and September.


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