Pakhomova was extremely energetic and possessed a charisma that made judges overlook Gorshkovs obvious faults. He was a far inferior skater. However, in 1970 they won the title in a close decision over the US champions, Judy Schwomeyer and James Sladky. Mollie Phillips, the British judge, sided with the four judges from the Communist bloc against the other four judges. After that they continued to improve. Apart from an upset in the 1972 European Championship, and Gorshkovs illness which prevented them taking part in the 1975 World Championship, they won everything up to 1976 including the first Olympic gold medals ever awarded for ice dance.
Towler and Ford had had an even more meteoric rise to fame. She was a sophisticated Londoner; he was a boy from Birmingham who came intermittently to the Queens Ice Club to take instructions from the doyenne of skating instructors, Gladys Hogg. She sensed that they would do well together but Diane was extremely apprehensive.
Together they created magic. In their first World Championship in 1964 they were thirteenth out of sixteen. The following year the title was theirs. They were inventive and fast, and their routine to music from the film Zorba the Greek will always remain in the memory. Some of their innovations were by no means universally approved. At the national championship in November 1968 their bright orange outfits with a military design were thought too flashy. Officials were also shocked that they had chosen to wear boot covers of the same material something considered suitable only for professionals. They were told in no uncertain terms that their costumes would have to be more subdued for their international appearances - hard to believe these days when nearly all skaters wear boot covers to extend the line of their outfits. The Sabena plane disaster in Brussels in 1961 not only wiped out the entire American skating team; it took the lives of the leading US coaches. Carlo Fassi of Italy, who had won the 1953 and 1954 European Cham­pionships, was invited to fill one of these tragic gaps. His first famous pupil was Peggy Fleming, who came to him having twice won the US title and a bronze medal in the 1965 World Championship. She was said to combine steel and crystal with a soft flow over the ice. In 1966 she dethroned the World champion, Petra Burka of Canada, who had lost her strength along with many pounds in a weight reduction programme. Fleming did not skate her best in the 1968 Winter Olympics at Grenoble, despite winning. Errors included a last-minute substitution of a single axel for a double and an under rotated double lutz. Fassi blamed Mrs Fleming, a notorious stage mother. He said it was the first time the daughter had not taken the ice immediately after a row with her mother, and normally that appeared to increase Peggys competitive spirit. It was the worst performance she had given in the four and a half years he had been coaching her.
Flemings successor as US champion, a title she claimed five times, was Janet Lynn, the blonde pixie with the glowing smile, who delighted the world with her beautiful free skating but never won a World Championship. She had started skating as a pathologically shy youngster and by the age of seven was showing such promise that her family dropped her last name, Nowicki, so that the public would not have to contend with such a mouthful, and lightened her mousy coloured hair.
In 1975 Sergei Volkov from Leningrad became the first Russian to win the mens World Championship but after he failed to win a medal in either the 1976 European Championship or the Olympic Games, he was pulled out of the World team and not allowed to defend his title. The 1976 season belonged to John Curry. After the free skating at the European Championship in Geneva there was no doubt in the spectators minds that he was the champion. He had skated superlatively. However, before the event his coach, Carlo Fassi, had advised him to withdraw. With five judges from behind the Iron Curtain and only four from the West, Fassi could not see how the Briton would win. He was right to worry. Had the Czech judge not sided with Curry against the other four Communist judges who voted for the Russian, Vladimir Kovalev, Curry would have been placed second. The Czech judge has not judged outside his country since then.
2. World's Greatest Skaters (Page 10). Book on Skating Index Page..
Worlds Greatest Skaters
Chapter 2
Page 9
Yesterday and Today