Profile Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean dominated the world of ice dancing in the early1980s, culminating in their gold medal winning performance at the 1984 Winter Olympics in which they scored a maximum 6.0 from every judge for artistic impression. To this day, the haunting tunes of Ravel’s “Bólero” are strongly linked to their magic skating.
Jayne Torvill was born and brought up in Nottingham, England, and took up ice skating at the age of eight. She became British Pairs champion aged 14 and teamed up with Christopher Dean four years later, in 1975. Dean was also born in Nottingham and began skating at the age of 10 after receiving ice skates for Christmas. He won the British Junior Dance Championship but did not get on with his partner and teamed up with Torvill.
The Free Dance section of ice dancing typically used a number of different pieces of music in order to show off different dance steps but Torvill and Dean revolutionised this after they won their first World Championship title in 1981. A year later, their Free Dance used excerpts from the musical Mack and Mabel and in 1983, they used music from Barnum to act out a visit to the circus. However, it was their 1984 Free Dance which proved the most revolutionary of all.
Ravel’s Boléro was condensed down to four minutes and 28 seconds from its 17 minute running time but this was still 18 seconds longer than Olympic rules allowed. Their routine therefore began with the two skaters kneeling in order to stay within the Olympic rules for the amount of time that they could skate. Their graceful performance earned them the maximum 6.0 for artistic impression from all nine judges, the only time that this has ever happened in the sport.
After the 1984 Olympic Games, they turned professional and were thus barred from World Championships and Olympic Games until 1994 when the rules were relaxed. They returned to Olympic competition in 1994, winning bronze.