Cousins found himself literally torn in two. After competing in the short programme section he caught a charter plane from The Hague to the East of England airport to give his exhibition in Nottingham. With very little sleep, he was off the next morning to fly back to Holland to compete in the free skating. He just barely won the event and in his autobiography has strongly criticised the NSA for making him go through that hectic schedule. It is unknown for a skater to leave the site of a competition during an event.
Then came the Olympic year, 1980. In January he won the European title in spite of changing his planned triple jump in the short programme to a double a decision that resulted in Fassi calling him chicken. Now confirmed as the favourite for the Olympic gold, four and a half million television viewers stayed up till 4 a.m. on a Thursday night to watch live BBC coverage from Lake Placid. it was not his best performance ever but it was sufficient. The only problem came when he went to accept his medal from Lord Killanin. He tripped and nearly went flying.
The favourite to succeed Cousins as Olympic men’s champion is his former rink mate, Scott Hamilton, USA. The pair champions could be any of four pairs, Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev from Leningrad, Sabine Baess and Tassilo Thierbach from Karl Marx Stadt in East Germany, Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini from Ontario, and Kitty and Peter Carruthers from Wilmington, Delaware. The women’s event is even more open. No woman has stayed at the top for two consecutive seasons since Trixie Schuba won every title in 1971 and 1972 although Linda Fratianne and Anett Poetzsch both won the World title twice. The World champion, Rosalynn Sumners from Seattle, is expected to be strongly challenged by Katarina Witt from Karl Marx Stadt, Claudia Leistner from Mannheim, West Germany, Elaine Zayak from New Jersey, and Elena Vodorezova from Moscow.
Until Elena won a bronze medal in the 1983 World Championship no Russian woman had gained a world championship medal in a singles event. She had to overcome arthritis in the knee to do that and survive the sacking, in spring 1983, of her coach Stanislav Zhuk. However, to get to the top every competitor has had his or her share of seemingly insurmountable odds. To conquer them has always been part of the joy of becoming a champion.