Thursday, 8 December 2016

The 1982 British Figure Skating And Ice Dancing Championships

The Iron Lady ruled the roost, the newspapers were dominated by headlines about The Falklands War, "Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners topped the music charts and Prince William was born. The year was 1982, the place was Jolly Ol' England and the winter sport everyone was clambering to watch was figure skating. The British Ice Dance Championships and British Figure Skating Championships, held within weeks of each other in November and December of that year in Nottingham and Solihull respectively, were full of interesting stories worth revisiting. Hop in the time machine and take a look back at these exciting events with me, won't you?

THE 1982 BRITISH FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Great Britain's best singles and pairs skaters gathered in Solihull, England from December 1-2, 1982 for the first British Championships in fifteen years not held at the Richmond Ice Rink.


After winning three senior pairs titles with Robert Daw, Susan Garland claimed her fourth British title in 1981 in Richmond with new partner Ian Jenkins. She made it five in a row in 1982, breezing through challenging lifts and throws to defeat Lisa and Neil Cushley and Maxine Hague and Andrew Naylor. Siblings Carol and Carl Nelson, who had been the runners-up in 1982, were forced to withdraw when Carl injured his hip during practices for the event.

Mark Pepperday easily defended his senior men's title in Solihull with one of the best performances of his career, landing four triples - two Salchows and two toe-loops - in his winning free skate. Paul Robinson finished second and Neil Cushley, who was doing double duty competing with his sister in the pairs event, settled for third. Rounding out the field of five were Stephen Morris and Jonathon Levers.


No less than fifteen entries vied for the women's crown in Solihull in 1982. It would have been seventeen, but Fiona McKenzie withdrew and Toronto based Diana Rankin, the previous year's bronze medallist, was unable to compete due to a foot injury. Speaking of injuries... despite a bad knee Karen Wood, a student of Keith Kelley, utterly dominated the women's competition from start to finish, landing a triple Salchow and triple toe-loop in her winning free skate. "It was all systems go!" she proclaimed. Despite finishing second in the free skate with two triple toe-loops of her own, Susan-Ann Jackson had to settle for bronze, owing to a fourth place finish in the school figures. A strong second place finish in the figures was just the head start that Alison Southwood needed to hang on for silver.

THE 1982 BRITISH ICE DANCE CHAMPIONSHIPS 

In the heart of Torvill and Dean country, in the midst of Torvill and Dean mania, eight of Great Britain's best ice dance teams - including Torvill and Dean - gathered at the Nottingham Ice Rink for the 1982 British Ice Dance Championships, held on November 19, 1982. It was a marathon of a competition, with each couple performing no less than five times... in one evening! Jayne and Chris were the only leading couple that year who had not competed internationally prior to the event and their debut of their new OSP to music from Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Song And Dance" and "Barnum" free dance inspired by the London Palladium musical were eagerly anticipated. To keep an element of suspense, the defending World Champions hadn't even shown "Barnum" during practices at the event, letting the music run through when it came on. Their strategy paid off. They received two perfect 6.0's in the OSP; and 5.9's across the board in both sets of marks with the exception of one 6.0 for artistic impression in the free dance.


Karen Barber and Nicky Slater, who had finished second at St. Ivel that September, were outstanding in their "Great Balls Of Fire" OSP and dramatic samba, rhumba, Paso Doble and "Malaguena" free dance, but despite drawing last to skate in the free dance they again remained in Torvill and Dean's shadow.  Wendy Sessions and Stephen Williams took the bronze ahead of Karen Roughton and Mark Rood, Sharon Jones and Paul Askham and three other teams.

Despite the excitement of Torvill and Dean's impressive victory in front of a home audience, the real drama in Nottingham was off the ice. The competition was sponsored by Sovereign Furs and in response, anti-fur protesters had camped out at the rink to stage a rowdy opposition. Judges and spectators alike stowed their fancy coats away in dressing rooms to avoid the protester's wrath.

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