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Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean

Sport Or Art?

Ice dancing is a complex endeavor. "Less gymnastic and acrobatic than pairs skating, ice dancing, which bears more than a passing resemblance to ballroom dancing, works its wonders within a smaller compass," explained Time writer Gerald Clarke. The discipline allows moves that emulate traditional dance, precluding such crowd-pleasing stunts as fast spins, high tosses, and extended lifts. Nor was ice dancing's place on the Olympic podium always assured. "For years," Bob Ottum of Sports Illustrated noted, "certain members of the International Olympic Committee opposed accepting dance as an Olympic sport because, they huffed, it was art and not sport." Eventually, ice dancing was invited to the games as an exhibition event. In 1976 ice dancing was accepted as an official medals event.

The discipline was refined as early as the 1960s with such pairs as Britain's Diane Towler and Bernard Ford, and was dominated in the 1970s by pairs representing

Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean

the Soviet Union. But it could be argued that ice dancing reached a new peak of maturity with the ascendency of Torvill and Dean. Not only superior stylists, they were innovators in the sport. Indeed, skating authority Dick Button told Clarke in 1986, "all new skaters will in some way look like Torvill and Dean. They are wonderfully creative. Much of what they do is unique to them."

Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean both grew up in Nottingham, England. Both began skating at age ten; at fourteen, Torville, with then-partner Michael Hutchinson, became British National Pairs champion. At the same age, Dean was named British Junior Dance champion. Torvill and Dean first teamed up in 1975. By that time, each skater held a "day job," Torvill's in clerking, Dean's as a police recruit. "For a time," remarked Bob Ottum in Sports Illustrated, the duo "tried to combine both worlds—working out while their occupational colleagues slept. At one point they had regular training sessions from 4 to 6 a.m." The grueling schedule paid off when Torvill and Dean gained their first national title in 1978.

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Famous Sports StarsFigure SkatingJayne Torvill and Christopher Dean Biography - Sport Or Art?, Bound For Sarajevo, A Challenge In Lillehamer, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments - CONTACT INFORMATION, SELECTED WRITINGS BY TORVILL AND DEAN: