The 2018–19 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and ISU Junior Grand Prix Final takes place from 6-9 December at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver. So this week Playing Pasts celebrates 7 skaters who were born during the next 7 days in bygone years.


Virginia Day “Ginny” Baxter was born on this day in 1932 in Detroit, she died at the age of 82 on 18th December 2014.  Affiliated to the Detroit Skating Club and attended Michigan State University, she won three bronze medals at the US Figure skating champs between 1949 and 51. Competing at the Worlds in 1949, 1950, and 1952, she was placed seventh in 1949-50, and won bronze medal in 1952. At the 1952 Winter Olympics, Ginny finished fifth, but was ranked first in the free skating phase of the competition. After the Oslo Olympics, she turned professional, skating with the Ice Capades for a few years, in the Land of Lollipops Show. She was later given a letter sweater by Michigan State, the first female to receive one from the Spartans.


French skater Jacqueline du Bief was born today in 1930 in Paris. Competing mainly as a single artiste she was competed for the De Glace Club in Paris, but did partner Tony Font with whom she won the 1950 and 1951 French national title.  Considered weak in figures, but innovative as a free skater, Jacqueline’s greatest figure skating moment came in 1952, shortly after she had won a bronze medal at the Oslo Olympics, when she won the World Championship in Paris. Although she landed the first-ever double Lutz by a woman, it was a controversial victory as she fell twice during her free skate. She was given a 6.0 by one judge despite this, and even the French fans pelted the ice with various items to protest the decision. She later wrote in her book Thin Ice, that American Sonya Klopfer deserved the title. She won six consecutive French championships (1947-52), and her World title came after she had finished second in the event in 1951. At the European Championships, she won a bronze medal in 1950 and silver medals in 1951-52. After the 1952 Winter Olympics she turned professional and skated in ice shows in the United States for 12 years, with the Ice Capades, Holiday on Ice, and Hollywood Ice Revue. In 1964 she returned to France where she went resumed her education.


Kerstin Stolfig, who was born on this day in 1960 in East Berlin, is a German former pair skater who represented East Germany. She and her skating partner, Veit Kempe, placed sixth at the 1976 Winter Olympics and became two-time East German national silver medallists. Club wise she skated for SC Dynamo Berlin and her other notable achievements include – 7th in the 1975 and 1976 Worlds, 7th in the 1975 Europeans and 6th a year later and 5th in 1979. After retiring from competition she married the bobsledder and Olympian Hans-Jürgen Gerhardt.


Born today in 1954 in Moscow, Russian figure skater Andrey Olegovich Minenkov. Affiliated to the Trud Moskva club, he is marred to fellow skater Irina Moiseyeva – known in America as Minnie and Mo. They began to skate together in 1967, their first successes coming in 1972-73, when they won two consecutive bronzes at the Soviet Championships. They established themselves as a top international ice dancing pair in 1975, when they won a World title in the absence of Lyudmila Pakhomova and Aleksandr Gorshkov. In 1976 they won silvers at the Olympic Games, World and European Championships, always behind Pakhomova and Gorshkov. But in 1977, after Pakhomova and Gorshkov retired, they won both the World and European titles, also winning their only Soviet title in 1977. In 1978 they repeated their European title, their other achievements include –  bronze at the 1980 Olympics, silvers at the 1978 and 1981 World Championships, bronzes at the 1979, 1980 and 1982 World Championships, silvers at the 1979 and 1981 European Championships and bronzes at the 1980 and 1982 European Championships. After finishing his sporting career Andrey studied at the Moscow State Institute of Radiotechnics, Electronics and Automation, graduating in 1989. In 1993 he founded a firm, Kholod, which now is the main distributor of Mars, Inc. products in the former Soviet states.


James David “Jim” Grogan born on this day in Tacoma, Washington, USA in 1931. He first made headlines nationally at the 1946 U.S. championships where he finished second to Dick Button. It was a role he would come to know well. Jim remained a top skater for many years but was unable to ever win a major title, because of the presence of Button and later Hayes Alan Jenkins. He would repeat his runner-up finish at the Nationals for the next four years and also finish second at the 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1954 Worlds. At the 1952 Olympics he had the second highest point total, behind Button, but his ordinal placings relegated him to the bronze medal. He served in the army after the 1952 Olympics and skated as an amateur for two more years before skating for a while with the Ice Capades. He later married, and then divorced, Barbara Wagner, the Canadian who paired with Bob Paul to win the 1960 Olympic pairs championship. He was affiliated to the St Mortiz figure skating club and died aged 68 on 3rd July 2000 in California.


British figure skater Phyllis Wyatt Johnson (nee Squire) was born on this day in 1886 in Tunbridge Well. She died aged 80 on 2nd December 1967 in her home town.  In 1904, at the age of eighteen years she married James Johnson, a colliery owner ten years her elder. Together they formed a partnership that saw them win two world titles, a silver (1908) and a bronze (1910) world championship medal and the 1908 Olympic silver medal until his ill health caused the end of their skating relationship. She then skated with a new partner, Basil Williams, at the Antwerp Olympics and became the first skater to win a medal with two different partners when they clinched the bronze medal. Phyllis also competed as a singles skater at Antwerp and narrowly missed a medal, finishing in fourth place. She had previously placed second in the ladies event at the 1913 World Championships and won bronze in both 1912 and 1914. As Phyllis Squire, she had started out in the English style of skating, winning the Challenge Shield in 1902-1904 and the English Challenge Cup in 1904.


Wolfgang Danne was born today in 1941 in Hildesheim, Niedersachsen, Germany.  His greatest moment when he won the bronze medal together with Margot Glockschuber at the 1968 Winter Olympics, although they had been runner-up at the 1967 World Championships. Shortly after the Grenoble Olympics they planned to skate at the World Championships, but there were rumours that they had already signed a pro contract with the Ice Capades and they were banned from the German team by the Deutsche Eislauf-Union. Indeed, they accepted their pre-contract at once and skated with the Ice Capades until 1972. He also skated at the World and European Championships in 1963-64 with Sigrid Reichmann, a non-Olympian, though with less success. He later became a figure skating coach.