Silver Skates has an illustrious history in Missouri

By McKenzie Browne | Feb. 25, 2019, 4:01 p.m. (ET)

On February 23, the 93rd Annual MOSA St. Louis Silver Skates competition took place in Jefferson City, Missouri, held for the first time at the Washington Park Ice Arena. Nearly 40 skaters competed among eight age groups, racing in six events and relays. Congrats to all the winners: Sam Habecker, Joseph Britt, Gregory Britt, Liam Sears, Elan Pan, Joey Dodson, Jacob Gingerich and Shannon Summers. The event was sponsored by the Missouri Speedskating Association.

See complete results from this weekend’s competition here.       

The St. Louis Silver Skates competition is one of the oldest events in the United States. The first ever Silver Skates competition took place in 1926 at Grand Basin in Forest Park. The event was held with a sanction from the International Skating Union (ISU). The 1926 event used the term “carnival” to describe the event, though it was not a part of the official name.       

To promote the event in 1926, the local newspaper, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, became the primary sponsor of the event, and issued discounted admission coupons to readers. Doing so drew in crowds to the event that surpassed 10,000 people.

Eddie Murphy, a skater out of Chicago, won the 1926 Silver Skates title trophy by winning two of three events. In the inaugural event, skaters raced in three distances: the half mile, one mile, and two mile distances.           

During the 1950-60s, if the National Indoor Championships was held in the Midwest, the Silver Skates races would be held in St. Louis the week before. This was beneficial to the skaters because competitors from the East and the West could race against each other before the National Championships began.           

Over the years, the state of Missouri has produced 11 Olympic Skaters, six competing in long track and five in short track. Each of these athletes began their racing career competing in the Silver Skates. Olympians who were not Missouri natives also began their racing careers at a Silver Skates competition, including Apolo Ohno, Jordan Malone and Kimani Griffin.           

Short track speed skating was introduced at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games as an exhibition sport. After Australia announced that they could no longer hold the trials for the exhibition event, the United States was asked by the ISU to hold the trials. Because of the history of Silver Skates, St. Louis ended up being the location of the trials. The event was run flawlessly after the introduction of computer clerking and scoring.           

After the 1988 Olympic Winter Games were completed, the ISU conducted a post analysis on the exhibition event. There were some issues that occurred while running the event, and in the post analysis, one of the ISU officials commented that they should have had the people from St. Louis run the event.

Because of the success of the Silver Skates events, the ISU asked Jim Chapin to write up the standard procedures for running both World and Olympic short track events. The “short track bible” was presented to the ISU in 1989, and is the foundation for the standards we have set today.

With such a rich history in the sport of speedskating, the St. Louis Silver Skates competition looks forward to more success in the future.