Coach Sheldon Galbraith offers instruction to Barbara Ann Scott.
Sheldon William Galbraith
Born: May 24, 1922 (Teulon, Manitoba)
Died: April 14, 2015 (Newmarket, Ontario)
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (1980)
Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (1990)
Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame (1991)
World Figure Skating Hall of Fame (1996)
Professional Skaters Association Coaches Hall of Fame (2003)
Order of Canada (1999)
Order of Ontario (2005)
Sheldon Galbraith was the greatest figure-skating coach in Canadian sporting history. A dedicated supporter of his athletes, he developed innovative techniques that placed Canadians atop the podium at the Olympics and world championships.
His stable of skaters reads like a list of all-time greats — Barbara Ann Scott (world champion in 1947 and ’48, Olympic gold in ’48); Francis Dafoe and Norris Bowden (world pairs champions in 1954 and ’55); Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul (four world pairs titles, Olympic gold in 1960); and, Donald Jackson (men’s world champion in 1962).
Galbraith coached Canada’s Olympic figure-skating team in 1948 (St. Moritz, Switzerland), 1956 (Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy) and 1960 (Squaw Valley, U.S.).
Born in Manitoba, Galbraith moved with his family to the United States as a boy. They survived on relief for a time during the Depression. He competed in the national junior championships before joining the ice Follies traveling troupe with his brother, where they skated a comedy routine called “the Rookies.”
He was commissioned in the U.S. Naval Air Force as a flight instructor. Later, he’d transfer some training methods for flight simulation to figure skating, such as using a trampoline to give an athlete for the feel of a spin before attempting it on an unforgiving ice surface. He also used a spinning device.
Film was another tool whose use he transferred from his military train. By filming his pupils he was able to analyze in minute detail their routines. He also built a large library of film with which he could instruct other skaters.
Galbraith coached at the Minto Skating Club in Ottawa in 1946. After two years, he left to coach briefly in Seattle before being hired by the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club in 1949, a position he would hold until retiring in 1988.