After winning the European in Zurich in 1951, they were giving an exhibition at home in Germany when, in one of their famous lifts, wherein Ria was high in the air above her partners head, he stumbled on something or other and she was thrown to the ground. They arrived in Milan for the World Championship ten days later with Ria s torn back muscles and injured spine encased in strapping, and the encouraging words of the medical specialist ringing in their ears: One more fall and you will be on your back for life. However, with indomitable courage, they skated, and they won. Paul gave one of the finest exhibitions of watchful power and controlled skating I have ever seen. His eyes never left his partner for a moment. But the lifts and other movements were so superbly performed that only those “in the know could possibly have been aware of the circumstances so fraught with danger.
In 1953 John and Jennifer Nicks won the European and World titles the first British pair to do so since the Johnsons in 1912. Their skating had an engaging charm and, trained since babyhood by Gladys Hogg, their chief assets were their speed and perfect unity of movement. Then the attractive Canadian pair Miss F. Dafoe and Norris Bowden from Toronto came over here to win the Worlds in 1954 and 1955. This pair, both extremely good solo skaters, perform a programme unique in itself, in that, although it has plenty of shadow skating, it has also something of the past in it, because there are many movements performed together which could not be executed alone, and which, were they not timed to perfection, would lead to disaster. For example, the striking Axel Paulsen jump of Frances into her partners arms is one which makes a most sensational curtain to a quick-moving performance full of surprises. In 1956 however they were placed second in both. the Worlds and Olympics to Fri. S. Schwarz and K. Oppelt of Vienna, another combination of superb solo skaters.
Thinking over this drives one to the conclusion that the main change that has taken place between the pre- and post-war approach to skating has been the drift into the professional ranks the ranks of the show skater. In this regard it must be remembered that the majority of successful show skaters are ex-amateurs, a fact which applies to the great Sonja as well as the newest recruit. In the past, until when in 1936 Sonja set the fashion, occasionally one heard of skaters who had turned professional and taught;
some were world champions such as Willi Bockl and Andree Joly (Madame Brunet) and Pierre Brunet, some were absolute beginners for skating is surely the one and only sport where the eighteen handicap player is accepted as an instructor.