Immigrants' figure skating contributions showcased at Pier 21 exhibit

The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 has a new exhibit "Perfect Landings," opening Jan. 16 that overlaps with the 2016 National Skating Championships, being held from Jan. 18 to 24 at Halifax's Scotiabank Centre.

'Perfect Landings' overlaps with 2016 National Skating Championships Jan. 18 to 24

Otto and Maria Jelinek are seen in this handout photo taken in the 1960s. The exhibit "Perfect Landings," presented in the museum's Hall of Tribute in partnership with Skate Canada, is set to run until March 20. (The Canadian Press)

A new exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Immigration is taking a sharp look at immigration's role in figure skating in Canada.

John Knebli, a skilled Hungarian-born craftsman, came to Canada in 1930. Ellen Burka, a Holocaust survivor from Holland, arrived in 1951.

Both went on to become prominent in Canadian figure skating in their own ways.

In Canada, the sport has been "profoundly influenced" by the talents of immigrants, says the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

The museum's new exhibit "Perfect Landings," opening Jan. 16, profiles several of those immigrants. It overlaps with the 2016 National Skating Championships, being held from Jan. 18 to 24 at Halifax's Scotiabank Centre.

Knebli made skates for numerous top-ranked skaters, while Burka trained some of the sport's biggest stars.

Others highlighted in the display include Louis Rubenstein, Hellmut May, Joe Geisler, Otto and Maria Jelinek, Victor Kraatz and Ellen Burka's daughter Petra.

Among artifacts to be featured are Kraatz's "Riverdance" costume from the 1998 Olympics, Petra Burka's bronze medal from the 1964 Olympics, and skates crafted by Knebli, museum historian Steven Schwinghamer said.

"Perfect Landings," presented in the museum's Hall of Tribute in partnership with Skate Canada, is set to run until March 20.

On Jan. 21, the museum will screen "Skate to Survive," a 2007 film biography of Ellen Burka.

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