Frick and Frack were the stage names of two Swiss ice skaters, Werner Groebli and Hans Mauch. The pair hired on in 1939 as an ice skating comedy team with the traveling show “Shipstad and Johnson’s Ice Follies.”

For nearly two decades, until 1953, Frick and Frack amused and astounded audiences around the world with the daring and outrageous ice stunts they choreographed for the Ice Follies. Costumed in traditional Swiss lederhosen, the skaters often contorted themselves into a maneuver called the “cantilever spread-eagle,” bending backwards at the knees until the body was parallel to the surface of the ice. The lengthy partnership of the beloved duo secured their paired names in the vernacular as a synonym for “two of a kind,” a pair of inseparable friends, or a notorious duo: “Frick and Frack.”

Michael Quinion, host of the website worldwidewords.com contacted the son of Hans “Frack” Mauch to inquire about the duo’s whimsical, alliterative stage names. He replied, “Frick took his name from a small village in Switzerland; Frack is a Swiss-German word for a frock coat, which my father used to wear in the early days of their skating act. They put the words together as a typical Swiss joke.”

— Chrysti the Wordsmith