Who was Dr. Porter, the man who is considered the father of synchro?


Dr. Richard Porter, father of the Hockettes, became a legend in the world of synchronized skating. (Credits: US Figure Skating - Sean McKinnon)

For US skaters and fans, Dr. Porter means the competitive season is in full swing. Indeed, the Porter Classic is one of the most famous synchro events in the USA. But who was the Dr. Porter who gave it its name?

Dr. Richard Porter is considered the father of synchronized skating, as it seems he created the very first synchronized skating team. At that time, our sport was called "precision skating".

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Dr. Richard Porter was a long-time professor at the University of Michigan Health Department and loved skating. He even had a judging degree and skated himself as an adult.

One day, while watching a group of young girls choreograph step sequences and movements together, he thought it might be interesting to put together a joint program that could be performed during break time at Ann Arbor hockey games. The idea was similar to cheerleading or gymnastics, but on the ice, it did not exist (yet!). 

Creation of the famous Hockettes

With 24 skaters in the "group", the Hockettes were born. This team remains the oldest synchro team and has become a legend. As U.S. Figure Skating reports, Porter's wife Pat made the distinctive navy blue dresses with the "M" attached with adhesive on the front.

"Pat was instrumental in virtually everything related to the Hockettes, from helping to choose music to dress-making to travel coordination," says an article in Skating Magazine.

Gradually, the team grew to include more and more skaters and "precision skating" became known throughout the United States. Dr. Richard Porter's name became known internationally through the competition that bears his name and marks the annual U.S. synchronized skating season. 

In 2023, the Porter Classic will be held December 1-3. Mark your calendars!