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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

SHELDON GALBRAITH

Inducted in 1980

Member Details

Date of Birth: May 24, 1922
Place of Birth: Teulon, Manitoba
Date of Passing: April 14, 2015
Sport: Figure skating
Member Category: Builder

Career Highlights

1940-43

Member of the Professional Ice Follies

1946-47

Coached at Ottawa's Minto Skating Club

1948, 1956, 1960

Olympic Team Coach

1949-97

Coached at Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club

2000

Named to the Order of Canada

Honoured Member SHELDON GALBRAITH
Inspire

Story

Coach Sheldon Galbraith can be credited with much of Canada's figure skating success throughout the 1950s and '60s. Using unique methods and offering unwavering dedication to his athletes, Galbraith produced some of the nation's most celebrated world and Olympic figure skating champions. Born in Teulon, Manitoba, Galbraith and his family relocated to the western United States when he was an infant. By the age of 17, he was competing in the U.S. championships alongside his equally talented brother, Murray. In 1940, the two boys joined the Ice Follies and impressed audiences with their carefully crafted, synchronized routines. Galbraith's time with the Ice Follies proved to be invaluable to his career as a coach. Working with a variety of experienced skaters, he learned the intricacies of choreography and musical expression. The young skater's life was put on hold during the Second World War. Galbraith was commissioned in the U.S. Naval Air Force in 1942 as a flight instructor. He served until 1945, gaining useful teaching experience and learning various instructional methods that would have a significant influence on his coaching techniques. For example, he later applied the idea of flight simulation to figure skating, allowing his skaters get the feel for complicated jumps on a trampoline or a spinning device before trying them on ice. After the war, Galbraith earned his coaching certificate and started teaching at the Minto Skating Club in Ottawa in 1946. It was here that he met Barbara Ann Scott, one of his finest and most famous pupils. Under his tutelage, Scott claimed the world title in 1947 and 1948, as well as an Olympic gold medal in 1948. After a brief coaching stint in Seattle, Galbraith was hired as coach at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club in 1949, a position he maintained until 1997. Here, he coached such spectacular pairs as Francis Dafoe and Norris Bowden, winners of the world pairs titles in 1954 and 1955, as well as Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul, Olympic gold medalists in 1960 and winners of four world pairs titles. Among Galbraith's many other champion protégés was Donald Jackson, the first male skater to successfully complete a triple lutz jump in world competition. In what is regarded as one of the most remarkable performances in the sport, Jackson came from behind to win the men's world title in 1962. Galbraith coached the nation's first Olympic figure skating champions in women's and pairs events, bringing home Canada's first non-hockey Winter Olympic medals. In World Championship events, he coached champions in each category-women's, men's, and pairs. Besides his coaching successes, Galbraith was a driving force behind the founding of the Professional Skaters Association of Canada, an organization designed to improve teaching skills, the quality of skating, and communications between amateur and professional skating groups. For his significant contributions to figure skating in Canada, Galbraith was inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1991 and received the Order of Canada in 2000.


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