Canadian Lookalikes. 1973–1980.

This week, in Vancouver, Canada, the 2021 Skate Canada event is taking place after a year’s hiatus due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. It is the 47th edition of the annual event. Back in 1973, when Skate Canada debuted in Calgary, it was the only major international figure skating competition held in North America, and remained so through 1980.1 Calgary has a long history of hosting top figure skating events, including Skate Canada, the Canadian Figure Skating Championships, and the World Figure Skating Championships.

It isn’t often that figure skating pins look alike from event to event, which is odd for a sport that, at least in the “old days,” somewhat relied on things being the same. But for the first six Skate Canada events—1973 through 1978—sameness was the order of the day: all the pins issued are circular in shape with the same basic design, varying mainly in color and size. The 1980 Skate Canada pin was changed to a more interesting oval shape yet retained a similar feel to its predecessors. All the early Skate Canada pins are defined by rich colors—red, green, blue, and orange—and the signature stylized figure skater logo that was introduced in 1973. Arms high over head and free leg in an elegant extended position, the design quickly established a “brand” for Skate Canada.

For the first six Skate Canada events—1973 through 1978—sameness was the order of the day: all the pins issued are circular in shape with the same basic design, varying mainly in color and size.

To mark the longevity of the Skate Canada event, The Netropolitan has culled from its collection the pins from 1973 Calgary, 1974 Kitchener, 1975 Edmonton, 1976 Ottawa, 1977 Moncton, 1978 Vancouver, and 1980 Calgary. Along with the small Skate Canada pin that would have been available to the general public, a larger version—given only to competitors and officials—also was produced and issued those same years. The 1978 Vancouver event was additionally marked with a pin that carries the saying “Love It!” The small circular pins all measure either 9/16″ (approx. 1.4 cm) or 5/8″ (approx. 1.6 cm) in diameter while the small 1980 pin measures 3/4″ x 1/2″ (approx. 1.9 cm x 1.3 cm). The additional 1978 cutout-style pin measures 7/8″ square (approx. .7625 cm square). The large circular pins all measure 1-1/2″ (approx. 3.8 cm) while the the large 1980 pin measures 1-7/8″ x 1-1/4″ (approx. 4.8 cm x 3.2 cm).

The large versions of the 1973, 1974, and 1975 Skate Canada pins are steeped in provenance, having been acquired from Lynn Nightingale, the four-time Canadian champion (1973–77) and winner of the first two Skate Canada events. And the large versions of the 1976 and 1980 Skate Canada pins have their own provenance, having been acquired from Gary Beacom, the two-time Canadian national silver medalist and the most avant-garde competitor of the late 1970s through the mid-1980s.

Enjoy Canadian Lookalikes. 1973–1980.
(This is an edited edition of a blog titled “O Skate Canada! 1973–1980” originally published October 24, 2020.)

1 Skate Canada was not held in 1979, in deference to the Flaming Leaves International, an invitational held in Lake Placid, New York, which served as the official test competition for the then-new Olympic Center Ice Rink built for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. Out of the Flaming Leaves event later came Skate America, which was first contested under that name in 1981, also in Lake Placid.


1973–1980 Skate Canada Gallery

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  • Copyright-protected image. Do not download or use without express written consent of the copyright holder.
  • Copyright-protected image. Do not download or use without express written consent of the copyright holder.
  • Copyright-protected image. Do not download or use without express written consent of the copyright holder.
  • Copyright-protected image. Do not download or use without express written consent of the copyright holder.
  • Copyright-protected image. Do not download or use without express written consent of the copyright holder.
  • Copyright-protected image. Do not download or use without express written consent of the copyright holder.

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