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Dancing with Olympic legends: Torvill and Dean support the Games

Jayne Torville and Christopher Dean hold the World Record in ice dance single programme. They visited the Special Olympics Winter Games in Schladming and Graz. (Photo: SOI)
by Caroline Tranberg, AIPS Young Reporter, Denmark

SCHLADMING, March 27, 2017 – If you have not seen Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean’s ice dance from 1984 at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, you should visit YouTube right away. 24 million people worldwide were watching when they danced to a new world record.

Torvill, who turns 60 this year and Dean next year, still exude professionalism and style. Meeting them in person means being greeted by her million-dollar smile, and his million-dollar hair.

The two of them are not a couple, but best friends. They still ice skate and just two years ago they finished the last season of the UK television show Dancing on Ice, where a professional ice dancer is paired with a British celebrity. They were at the Special Olympics Winter Games in Schladming, and in Graz, visiting both the athletes competing in the mountains and the figure skaters in Graz. Ahead of their visit to Graz, both were excited, but a tiny part of them was also anxious. “Hopefully the figure skaters have heard about us before,” Torville said.

As World Record holders with the best score in a single program, this is a humble attitude. In 1984 the scores were given in the old ice-skating scale, which was more about style and grace, whereas today it is more about the number of jumps and turns. On a scale going up to 6.0 they received a 5.9 score six times and a full 6.0 twelve times. They compted in the Olympic Games three times, winning one gold and one bronze medal. They still see these years as the highlight of their careers: “The Olympics is a massive highlight for anyone,” Torville says while Dean nods.

They agree on almost every question, also when asked whether Special Olympics is different to the Olympics: “Being at Special Olympics must feel exactly the same as being at the Olympics. You are wearing your uniform, representing your country. It is such a special feeling.”

The Children of Nottingham

Ice dancers always know how to dress for events. On the media reception night in Schladming, Torvill is wearing a pink patterned shimmering shirt and high-heeled boots, and Dean is in a blue suit and a grey tie. Representing their country has always been important to them, but representing their hometown Nottingham is almost as important. This is where they both began skating, and people there are still aware, as Dean explains: “It is great to visit our old home because the people there treat us as the Children of Nottingham.”


The citizens of their hometown treat Torville and Dean as “The Children of Nottingham”. (Photo: Getty Images)

Ahead of their visit to Graz, the duo were looking forward to seeing all the athletes compete, but one athlete is unique to them: “A girl from our hometown in Nottingham is competing. We look very much forward to see her,” said Dean.

Competing was one of the things they enjoyed the most in their career. They both agree that the creativity behind a show was one of the best parts, and then – of course – performing their shows live. In television with Dancing On Ice they also get to make the choreographies for themselves and their partner.

Skating in the moment

The ice dancing couple insists that being in the moment on ice is more important than receiving a medal or making a Special Olympics World Record. It is just a possible added bonus to participating the Games in Austria. Torville and Dean insist that the main goal was seeing the figure skaters put their nerves aside and just enjoy the event.

Of course a world record is not a bad thing to have. Torville and Dean also agree on that.

Follow Caroline @CaroTranberg

The Young Reporters Programme has been made possible thanks to the support of the European Union's Erasmus + programme

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