Ron Shaver came to figure skating as a toddler,
joining the Galt Figure Skating Club at Galt Arena Gardens at about the
same time as a youngster by the name of Toller Cranston. Years later the
two would have some legendary battles at the national championships.
Born and raised in Galt, Shaver got his start at age four after watching
a figure skating show at Galt arena. "That's what I'm going to do," he
announced to his parents. He was true to his word, and when he wasn't
skating, he attended Stewart Avenue P.S. and later, Glenview Park S.S.
After a brilliant amateur career in which he won the novice Canadian championship,
was a five-time member of the Canadian world team, 1976 Olympian and three-time
Canadian silver medalist and Canadian senior champion (1977), Shaver capped
off his career by winning a world professional championship in 1981.
He then went off to the skater's equivalent of the circus: he joined the
Ice Capades. The highlight of his career was to have come at Innsbruck
in 1976. Shaver, runnerup to Cranston at the Canadians, was skating better
It had been a dream of his to skate for Canada at the Games, just as it
had been a dream to win a medal. So at Innsbruck, Austria, with the first
dream a reality, he was poised to realize the second dream of standing
on an Olympic podium.
"It was going extremely well," said Shaver. "I was sixth in figures, third
in the short program, pulled to fifth, was three points away from second
and two points away from third."
He was a favorite to win a medal, given that his strong suit, the long
program, was still to come. So he went out for his official practice on
the morning of his long program full of confidence and expectation.
Then tragedy struck. "I tore the adductor tendon in my groin and was laid
up in hospital for the rest of the Olympics and for 16 weeks after that."
It was a devastating blow; the injury itself was so severe that it threatened
his skating career. He begged team doctors to shoot him up with cortisone
so he could compete, but they refused. The tendon was torn. There was
no room for heroics.
So 1976 was both the pinnacle and the most disappointing year of Shaver's
career. "I don't know that a medal would have changed anything," says
Shaver now, "but I can honestly say at this point that to go home and
see that bronze or silver medal would sure be nice.
It was a dream that was never fully realized." Shaver did win gold at
Skate Canada on two occasions, and his return to competition following
the injury showed grit and determination.
"I've always felt that you should never retire on a down note. You should
always retire when you feel you are successfully at the peak of things.
So I couldn't retire and leave that way."
The next year he became Canadian champion and placed sixth at the world
championships. Then he turned pro. It was a natural move, and what better
organization than the Ice Capades. He skated with the Ice Capades for
three years, then took a teaching job in Atlanta for three years.
In 1983 he returned to the Ice Capades where he remained, living out of
a suitcase and skating around the continent, until May of 1990.
He enjoyed the skating, the performing. Not the traveling. "The traveling
is the worst part," he said.
After his retirement from performing, he became a coach in Hamilton.
"To have a dream and to pursue it is the most important thing. If you
ever do fulfill all your dreams, then you've had your cake and eaten it
too." Ron Shaver, Olympian, Canadian champion, winner of two Skate Canada
golds, and winner, too, of a special award from the Moscow News during
a 1973 invitational in Russia, settled down into coaching as the 1990s
began. "I'll always be involved in skating," he said.