Who we are
SAFSA is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to
promoting, controlling, encouraging, advancing, assisting,
protecting and generally furthering Figure Skating in the Republic
of South Africa, on ice and on synthetic polymeric ice surfaces
whether performed using ice skating blades or substitutes simulating
such, in the categories of single skating, pair skating, ice dancing
and synchronised skating.
We are committed to promoting and developing fiugre skating on all levels by providing effective leadership, training and standards to all people in South Africa.
Goals & Objectives
- To increase the number of participants in the sport;
- To maintain and increase access to facilities in South
- To increase media exposure to the sport;
- To attract sponsors, funding and grants;
- To promote and develop skaters, coaches, judges and other
- To improve the standard of the sport in South Africa;
- To administer the sport effectively;
- To continuously reassess and develop rules and regulations
for the sport;
- To encourage the formation of clubs and provinces in
- To provide a broader base of international exposure thereby
improving our image;
- To advance all the disciplines within figure skating; and
- To improve the dissemination of information in all areas of
History of Figure Skating
HOW IT ALL STARTED
Ice skating originated at least three thousand years ago with people
using bones to slide on ice as a means of communication and
transportation. Skating, as it is known today, probably started in
the Netherlands, where metal skates fixed in wooden soles and tied
to shoes were first used around 1250. Skating for pleasure was
developed mainly by the British. The first club was formed in
Edinburgh in 1742, while the first national skating association was
founded in Britain in 1879. The International Skating Union was
established in 1892 as the world’s governing body for both figure
and speed skating. The ISU is now the governing body for figure
skating, speed skating, short-track speed skating and synchronized
A GENERAL OVERVIEW
The South African Ice Skating Association (SAISA) was established in
1937 and encompassed both figure skating and speed skating
disciplines. Professor JYT Greig was the first president, a position
he held from 1937 until 1950. It was only really in 1970, when ice
rinks began popping up all over the country, that SAISA became a
true national controlling body for the sport.
South African became a member of the International Skating Union
(ISU) family in 1938 and has been the only member on the African
continent, until the recent addition of Morocco. South Africa is also an affiliated member of the SOUTH
AFRICAN SPORTS CONFEDERATION AND OLYMPIC COMMITTEE (SASCOC),
previously NOCSA, which was formed in 2005.
At the ISU Congress in 1994, Speed Skating split from the then
SAISA, and the two bodies SAFSA (South African Figure Skating
Association) and SASSA (South African Speed Skating Association)
were formed and each became full members of the ISU in their own
right and the controlling bodies of their sport in South Africa. At
the request of the then NOCSA and National Sports Council (NSC) a
“loose” association was formed, i.e. South African Ice Skating
Federation (SAISF), as we both have the same international
controlling body. Although technically this association is still in
place, each association is completely autonomous.
CURRENT RINKS IN SOUTH AFRICA
There are currently three full sized rinks in the country, Cape
Town, Vereeniging and Tshwane (Pretoria), two slightly smaller rinks
in Gauteng and a half-sized rink in Durban.
Milestones - Down Memory Lane
Mrs. Dale Lace started South Africa’s first ice rink in
Johannesburg. This ice rink was likely situated at the South African
Party’s club in Eloff Street, Johannesburg (information from Miss
Sylvia Strasheim and Rev. Kevin Reynolds’ history of SAISA)
SAISA formed and national headquarters were established in
Johannesburg. The first competitions held were mainly ice dancing.
The Wembley Ice Rink opened in Springfield, Johannesburg.
South Africa becomes a member of the ISU.
The first national championships were instituted where skating had
progressed from only ice dance to singles and pairs skating. Singles
sections were mixed men and women.
South Africa’s second rink opened in Durban (this was originally an
full size ice rink, but was later reduced to a half-size ice rink)
Separate men and women sections were established for competitions.
SAISA assumes true national status and SAISA’s national executive
moved to Natal from Southern Transvaal, where it had been
headquartered from its inception in 1937.
SAISA’s first official journal – “The Outside Edge” – was
established. The Protea Test Series was introduced and SAISA’s draft
of a new constitution came into effect.
SAISA National Colours awarded for the first time to administrators
The first international competition was held in Johannesburg. The
Protea Test Series was extended to include dance and pair skating. A
decision was also taken to form a National Judges Committee.
The first National Judges Committee was elected. The first proposal
to the South African Olympic Committee was made that the then
Springbok colours should be awarded to sportsmen and women
irrespective of race.
The first inaugural Skate Safari International competition was held
in Johannesburg from the 2 – 4 April. Nineteen competitors attended
this competition from Austria, Great Britain, Luxembourg, USA, and
West Germany and eight South African skaters. It was also the first
visit by Howard Bass to this country. Mr. John Shoemaker, first
vice-president of the ISU for figure skating, was SAISA’s guest of
honour. SAISA’s national public relations directorate was also
Max Staub, SAISA’s most highly appointed international judge and
referee, passed away. Precision team competitions were introduced at
national competitions (now known as synchronized skating)
SAISA instituted its highest award – the “Max Staub Star” (designed
in the shape of the Star of David). The first two recipients of the
award were the president of the ISU, Mr. Jacques Favart and the
president of SAISA at that time, Mrs. Pat Jackson.
The ice rink in Port Elizabeth closed. The revised test structure
was introduced where two separate tests were instituted for figures
and free skating. These tests allowed for skaters to be awarded
Springbok Colours for passing the high-grade tests and who were
unable to compete in ISU recognized international competitions. The
second Skate Safari was held in Johannesburg from the 4 – 8 October.
Aegis Insurance becomes a major sponsor for South African Ice
Skating for the next 14 years.
President Jacques Favart of the ISU passed away. Olaf Paulsen of
Norway succeeded him.
Derrik Simons was elected “Sportsman of the Year” by the South
African Police Force – this was the highest recognition figure
skating had yet received in this country.
In the ISU’s centenary year, SAISA was re-admitted to international
competition. Two teams participated in the World Championships held
in the USA. This marked an absence from ISU recognized international
competitions of 23 years! During the period when South Africa were
not permitted to participate in ISU recognized event, SAISA still
retained our ISU membership of the ISU (of which SAISA is one of the
longest serving members) but did not hold a vote. The vote was
reinstated in this year at the ISU Congress held in Switzerland. It
was also announced at this Congress that Speed Skating would
separate from Figure Skating. SAISA was then converted to the South
Africa Ice Skating Federation (SAIF) and became the umbrella for the
two separate organizations – SAFSA (Figure Skating) and SASSA (Speed
A small team from figure and speed skating participated in the 1994
Shirene Human sent as a development skater to the Winter Olympics
held in Nagano, Japan. She was placed 24th out of 30. Patricia
Norton (SAFSA’s current Secretary-General) was the first Chef de
Mission appointed for South Africa and only the 4th woman in the
world to ever hold such a position.
SAFSA obtained the services of an international coach – Fanis Shakirzianov. He came recommended to South Africa by Tamara
Moskvina (ISU accredited Olympic Coach). He and his daughter Marina
coached at the Ice Station, Grand West Casino Complex, Cape Town.
Shirene Human was again 24th out of 30 – this time at the Senior
World Championships held in Nice, France. She received an official
world ranking at this competition.