Skate Canada Hall of Fame welcomes six new members

Nov 15, 2012

By Skate Canada/Skatebuzz

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada is pleased to induct six new members into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. Founded in 1990 the Hall of Fame pays tribute to athletes, builders and professionals and this year Skate Canada will welcome two in each of those categories.

Jeffrey Buttle and Brian Pockar will be recognized in the athlete category, John Knebli and Norman Scott in the builder discipline and Kerry Leitch and Lori Nichol will be honoured as professionals.

Jeffrey Buttle, 30, of Sudbury, Ontario, will enter the Skate Canada Hall of Fame as an athlete. Buttle began competing on the international stage in 1997 and went on to become the 2006 Olympic bronze medalist, the 2008 World Champion and a three-time Canadian Champion (2005, 2006, 2007). Buttle was a regular on the international scene for many years.  During his career he captured gold at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in 2002 and 2004 and he placed second at the ISU Grand Prix Final in 2004 and 2005. Buttle earned gold three times on the ISU Grand Prix circuit, first at the 2003 NHK Trophy in Japan, followed by the Cup of China in 2004 and the 2005 Trophée Eric Bompard. Buttle spent his career training at the Mariposa School of Skating and was coached by Lee Barkell and Rafael Arutunian.

Brian Pockar, of Calgary, Alberta, passed away in April 1992 at the young age of 32. In Pockar’s short life he accomplished many achievements in figure skating and for those feats he will enter the Skate Canada Hall of Fame in the athlete category. Pockar was the 1982 world bronze medalist, three-time Canadian Champion and a member of the 1980 Olympic Team. In addition, Pockar was also a five-time recipient of the Alberta Achievement Award (1976, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982) and the 1980 Calgary Booster Club Athlete of the Year. He also picked up medals at the 1979 and 1981 Skate Canada International, a bronze and silver respectively. Pockar was a member of the Glencoe Winter Club in Calgary where he trained with coaches Winnie Silverthorne and Barbara Roles.

John Knebli, passed away in 1997 at 92 in Toronto where he spent most of his life. Knebli immigrated to Canada from Hungary in 1930 and began his career as a master craftsman in orthopaedic shoemaking, going on to become one of the top skate makers in figure skating. Knebli enters the Skate Canada Hall of Fame in the builder category. He crafted boots for many Canadian champions, world medalists and Olympic medallists; some of his more notable clients include Brian Orser, Barbara Underhill, Paul Martini, Toller Cranston, and Peggy Fleming. Knebli’s dedication to his craft led him to shape the sport of figure skating one skate at a time.

Norman Scott, lived a long life to the age of 89 and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a builder. Born in Ottawa, Scott was an avid figure skater and in 1914 won the Canadian men’s title, as well as the American International Figure Skating event in the men’s, and in the pair discipline with his partner Jean Chevalier. He was the Secretary Treasurer of the Amateur Skating Association of Canada from 1920-1921 and was a board member from 1922-1934. Scott’s presence in the sport expanded as he focused on judging. In 1932 he was the first Canadian judge appointed to the ISU World Figure Skating Championships® in Montreal, Canada. Scott went on to judge many other prestigious events. His image was sculpted onto the original Canadian Championship medal which was used from 1914-1950 at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships. He also had a successful hockey and golf career. He played on the McGill University varsity hockey team in 1911 and in golf he won the Quebec amateur title in 1927 and 1930; just a few of his many victories in other sports.

Kerry Leitch, 71, of Waterloo, Ontario, began his career as a figure skating competitor, reaching the junior ranks and then soon after he turned his attention to coaching. Leitch enters the Skate Canada Hall of Fame as a professional for his dedication to coaching in Canada. A talented pair and singles coach, Leitch had a skating school in Cambridge, Ontario where his coaching team lead 48 Canadian champions to the top of the podium, including Lloyd Eisler, Katherine Matousek, Christine (Tuffy) Hough, Doug Ladret, Cynthia Coull, Mark Rowsom, Cindy Landry, and Lyndon Johnston. As a former Figure Skating Coaches of Canada President and board member of the Canadian Figure Skating Association now known as Skate Canada, Leitch helped to push the sport forward through his roles as a coach and sport administrator.

Lori Nichol, 49, of London, Ontario will enter the Skate Canada Hall of Fame as a professional. Nichol’s work as a choreographer has made her skills desired around the world. She has revolutionized the way the sport plans, designs and views choreography. Famous signature programs such as Jamie Salé and David Pelletier’s 2002  free program ‘Love Story’, Joannie Rochette’s 2010 free program to ‘Samson and Delilah’, and  Patrick Chan’s programs from the 2011 season which saw him shatter world records on every front, were all created by Nichol. Nichol’s talent for crafting technically difficult programs combined with her skill to feel the music has produced eight Olympic medals and thirty-eight world medals.

The exact date and locations of the various inductions will be announced at a later date.

Skate Canada Hall of Fame
Since 1990, The Skate Canada Hall of Fame has been paying tribute to athletes, coaches, builders and officials who have made a significant impact on Canadian figure skating. Each year, nominations are reviewed by the Hall of Fame Committee and a maximum of ten inductees are honoured in each Olympic quadrennial. Often, the induction ceremonies are held in conjunction with the national championships but can also occur at other competitions and Skate Canada Meetings. While there is no permanent home for the Hall of Fame, the archives of the Skate Canada national office houses the many different historical and archival artefacts.