Profile: Lapel Pins – 1988 Skate Canada, Thunder Bay, Canada
In 1988, the long-established and successful brand for the Skate Canada event, held annually in the fall, began its descent into history with the addition of a title sponsor to the event. Ownership of the event was effectively being transferred in exchange for naming rights (also called cash), something that was becoming more prevalent and unfortunate across figure skating at the time. The pins made to commemorate the 1988 Skate Canada event clearly show the effects of this new direction, with one pin that falls more in line with the historical brand while the other two pins show the winds of change.
Situated in Northwestern Ontario, the city of Thunder Bay hosted 1988 Skate Canada after successfully pulling off the 1979 Canadian Figure Skating Championships, no small feat for a relatively small community. The location sounds less like a place where a major figure skating events might be contested than where an intense TV drama series might be staged or filmed. Think cloud-covered, stormy skies; oversized woolen sweaters; aromatic coffees; artisan breads; and warm bowls of clam chowder. Intrigue, for sure.
Less intriguing are the event pins from 1988 Skate Canada. First up is the more traditional pin that looks and feels like its predecessors, only less well done. But why was a traditional style pin issued when the event essentially had been taken over by and branded Sun Life? It’s almost as if someone forgot to tell the organizing committee that the title sponsor would be issuing the pins, and since this version was already in the works, it was used, too. As always, if anyone has insight on this mystery, please contact The Netropolitan with details.
On a gold color base metal and measuring approximately 3/4″ x 1″ (1.9 cm x 2.5 cm), the pin is divided diagonally into sectors of red and white. Along the top, on the red background, are the event name and location: “Skate Canada Thunder Bay.” Below, on the white background, is the Skate Canada logo and the year: “88.” In keeping with past Skate Canada events, rightly or wrongly, the vertical axis of the skater is a bit akimbo: sometimes the figure leans forward, other times backward (as is the case for 1988), and still other times it is rigidly upright. But use of the skater logo has been consistent, even though it has been refined in style over the years. For fun, and to see the differences, compare the illustration style of the skater and its vertical axis on these pins: 1973 Skate Canada, 1981 Skate Canada, 1983 Skate Canada, and 1985 Skate Canada.
The two Sun Life-branded pins from the 1988 Skate Canada event are colorful and creative, with a hint of the sponsor’s design being introduced.
The two Sun Life-branded pins from the 1988 Skate Canada event are more colorful and creative and carry the same design, differing only in size. The lower left edge of the pin has what appears to be a series of ice crystals, which creates strong visual appeal, and arranged next to that is the skater logo. A tip of the hat to the past. Around two-thirds of the circumference of the pin, primarily to the right, are the sponsor name, event title, and location: “Sun Life Skate Canada Thunder Bay.” In the center are the year “1988” and the word “International.” Although Skate Canada is formally titled Skate Canada International, the separation and stylization of the word International from the event title feels disjointed and appears to have been done for purely artistic reasons. As a result, the pin looks more like one from a random international meet than a prestigious, invitation-only event.
Each pin is on a silver color base metal. The small version measures approximately 1″ in diameter (2.5 cm) and would have been available for sale at the event. The large version measures approximately 1‑1/2″ in diameter (3.8 cm) and likely was made for and given only to competitors and selected officials with the event, a common practice at previous Skate Canada and Canadian national events.
Enjoy this week’s figure skating pins blog: 1988 Skate Canada Pins: The Winds of Change. And be sure to read the museum story for more information about figure skating pins.
Pins Gallery: 1988 Skate Canada
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