The unforgettable skater Jayne Torvill was born on 7 October 1957 in Nottingham, the Heart of England, fifty years ago. A star of ice dancing, she shone on skates from the end of the 1970s onwards with her partner, Christopher Dean. It is impossible to think of one without the other. These two athletes, with different but complementary qualities, became one on the ice, in perfect harmony.
A perfect duo
How did they meet? They were both from Nottingham, and both without partners, meaning that the circumstances were right for their paths to cross. In 1975, Jayne did her first test session with Christopher, who was one year her junior. She was, above all, a technician and he was a dancer, and the new pair had to find a balance. She was smaller than him, so they had to find their harmony. They were both adolescents, so they had to overcome their shyness. They were both uptight, and their first dances were deemed “horrible” by Jayne, who even fell during a blues number. Step by step, figure by figure, their movements came together and confidence settled in. These two determined young athletes started their first competition season together the same year. It was not long before sparks were flying on the ice.
They became British champions for the first time in 1978, finishing fifth in the Olympic Games in Lake Placid in 1980. From 1981 onwards, the pair collected up first places in the major competitions they took part in, throwing the scoreboards into disarray by lining up 6.0s – the highest possible score in figure skating. Before the Sarajevo Games in 1984, Jayne and Christopher had already achieved triple victories in both the European championships (1981-1982, 1984) and the world championships (1981-1983).
A fiery Bolero in Sarajevo
In 1984, the star couple took part in the Olympic Games in Sarajevo, giving a new, breathtaking show of their talent. In the ice dancing event, the British skaters had to perform three programmes: the compulsories, original and free dances. For the paso doble original dance, they took images from bullfighting which the Spanish rhythm inspired in them. In the choreography, Jayne was a black and white cape that spun endlessly around its matador. In the free programme, they danced to Ravel’s Bolero, interpreting the dramatic and romantic story of two lovers, whose impossible love drove them to death.
Their interpretation of the fatal dance was so overwhelming and full of virtuosity that it transfixed the whole arena, including the judges. When Jayne came out of her trance, showered by bouquets, she discovered a succession of nine 6.0s. The judges were unanimous in giving the maximum score for artistic impression. The skaters took first place in all the dance programmes, winning the gold medal.
Soon after this feat, Jayne and Christopher turned professional, coming back to the Olympic Games only in 1994 in Lillehammer, where they won the bronze medal.
In their duo on ice, Jayne, the perfect technician, gave life to the moves dreamt up by her partner. As Christopher said: “With Jayne, everything becomes possible”. Thus, just like a bird without its wings, Jayne could not skate without Christopher, and vice versa. Thank you to these two athletes for the unforgettable moments they gave us!
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