Our next inductees were of a very productive era in BC skating. Much to do with the great leadership and coaching of one of our Hall of Fame coaches Dr Helmut May. Along with a terrific group of volunteers they ran an exciting and productive competitive skating club at the Kerrisdale Arena. Both Faye Strutt and Jimmy Watters were products of that club at the time.
Faye was an accomplished singles skater and at the age of 12 won the BC Sectional Championships Novice Ladies.
Jim had a passion for pair skating and was partnered at the time with Wendy Warne who he skated with for a number of years. Wendy and Jim were Dr May’s first pair team so there was much to learn by all.
As happens with young dance or pairs teams one may outgrow the other which was the situation with Wendy. So, Dr May looked for another partner in his club....and well....there was this little blond young lady who he thought might be just be the right match for Jim.
In 1963 Faye.... then 15 and Jimmy 17 were matched to skate pair together. This was the second team that Dr May taught and well....he didn’t really plan for much...... except to get them started and see where it all ended up.
However, it was the Olympic year and unlike today where the Olympic Team is determined at the National Championships .......there were Olympic trials in held in Toronto that fall. Two very influential volunteer leaders of the day June Pinkerton and our favourite 102 year old Skate Canada President Billie Mitchell (here tonight) suggested that Faye and Jim go to Toronto and try out for the Games.
Well...... Dr May thought that was kind of ridiculous for such a rookie team and in fact felt they should not spend the money on him attending. So off they went to get their first competitive experience as a team.... without a coach.....
However....Jimmy’s mother stood by the boards with them.......now imagine that in today’s competition skaters...having mom and or dad with you at the boards. There is a whole new reality TV show there somewhere in that.
Also......Remember the programs in those days were 5 minutes long.......difficult to skate for sure but also difficult to watch especially for those watching a guy like me kind of skate.....for that long. Faye and Jim had only skated together for 6 weeks and only ran the 5 minute program twice before the Olympic Trials.
However, both were strong single skaters and in shape.......and as just a point of interest....on the day of the trials Faye was at the hair dressers getting her coiffe done using Marg Simpson as a role model...... The date was November 22nd 1963..........a defining time in World history and as Faye reported she noticed quite a disturbance going on in the salon. People looked in shock and when she asked what was wrong they said it was just announced on the radio that President John F Kennedy had been shot.
Many of us here ....of a certain vintage...... all remember where we were and what we were doing at that moment.......life had to go on but it was such a shock....... Faye keeping to plan and focused went to the rink to compete with Jim and people were in tears and even some decided to not compete.
hat day Faye and Jimmy skated beyond what most expected....they rose to the occasion and surprised many (even themselves) with a third place finish and a spot on the 1964 Canadian Olympic Team......one of the presenters that day was the one and only Barbara Ann Scott....what a thrill.
So...after 6 weeks of skating together they qualified for Olympics and now they had 2 months to prepare for Canadians and one more month to prepare for Olympics........maybe one of the few times ......that left Dr May speechless.
Innsbruck Austria, 1964 was the home for the Winter Olympics. 1091 athletes from 36 nations gathered in this valley city at the base of majestic peaks. The Canadian Team was outfitted in the newest fashion all-full of excitement and anticipation of what they were about to experience. Here you see them in the famous Hudson Bay Coats with matching hand bags for the ladies
In the competition Faye and Jim had to skate right after the eventual winners Ludmilla and Oleg Protopopov and after only 3 months of skating together placed a creditable 14th in the Olympic Games.
It showed them that no matter where you lived...no matter which language you spoke.....that sport and in this case figure skating was a great equalizer among men and women in that the passion and effort was born true and pure for all. After their skating career Jim judged for a number of years before retiring and as many of you here tonight know Faye taught...coached and guided generations of young BC skaters throughout their career.
Ladies and gentlemen it is our great honour to welcome into the Skate Canada BC Hall of Fame.... Faye Strutt and Jimmy Watters