How Torvill and Dean made a spontaneous decision and changed the sport

Stepping off the morning train from West Germany, Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill seemed unlikely revolutionaries.

Dean, 25, was wearing a stiff shirt, tie, argyle sweater and striped jacket. Next to him, Torvill, 26, wore a fur-trimmed coat, matching hat, silk scarf and a shy smile. Not on display, but somewhere in Nottingham were their recently awarded MBEs. Before them, as they posed amiably on the platform at Sarajevo station, there was "There." a group of photographers taking photos. In nine days, a risky and audacious bet was made: the chance to win Olympic gold in ice dancing depended on a routine that ignored the rules and defied convention: a gratuitous dance number that could burn like gauze in a spark.

Torvill and Dean could easily have played it safe. Instead, they played with fire. “We had great confidence in what we were doing. " says Dean 40 years later. "Only the others thought it was a gamble." "We always had to be one step ahead when it came to determining where our ideas were creative,” adds Torville. added. . “We were trying to tell a story in a way that made sense.” But 1984 was a time when stories vied with each other over destruction. The nerves of the Cold War were put to the test as American and Soviet warheads filled silos, false alarms and dangerously realistic military exercises occurred.

There were conflicts within the country too.

A few weeks after Torvill and Dean arrived in Sarajevo, the miners' strike triggered a year-long conflict that divided families, communities and home districts. Even along the way, there was no escape from politics; There was a crack in the ice. There were traditionalists who believed in respecting the roots of ballroom dancing on ice. They valued a combination of decency and control: precision, efficiency and decency in the skaters' movements. However, a new wave was emerging: a more relaxed wave. style. and flexible. A dramatic, romantic style emerged that thrilled audiences, even as it disgusted old-fashioned judges.
The two approaches were different. And in a subjective scoring sport, where medals were awarded based on numbers assigned by judges, we were vulnerable if the differences were too large. Initially, Torvill and Dean leaned towards a conservative approach. They arrived at the Olympics wearing top hats. Wins the world title. There was little to prove and much to risk. For all they knew, this would be their last chance on the biggest stage as it was. They were destined for the professional sector, which prohibited them from participating in future Olympic Games according to the rules of the time. A retro 1930s look. was planned for 42nd Street. This would showcase their skills and please both judges who prefer a classic routine and those who prefer a more colorful routine.

But Torvill and Dean Satisfied themselves ?
Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean: perfection on ice - Olympic News

At a dinner in west London, after examining the cassettes to identify the melody and theme, they finally came to the conclusion that it was not Case. In his Olympic competitions a much bolder crescendo was needed.

In the basement of their hosts' apartment, pleated silk dresses were dyed purple. An arranger was hired to cut 15 minutes of music into two-thirds, preserving the radiant heart. Torvill and Dean retreated to Oberstdorf in the Bavarian Alps to work on something new, away from prying eyes.

"Those days - that's all, with the phones", with cameras and on social media. The media makes it very difficult to keep things secret, but no one really knew what we were doing,” says Dean. "We believed in what we were doing rather than listening to those who said that this was not the right thing for the Olympic year, but that we had to do something safer." “We wanted to do something that we had never done before and that had never been done before,” adds Torvill. Of course there has never been anything like Boléro and it has never been done before. There has probably been nothing like it since.

Torvil and Dean's free dance on February 14, 1984 in Sarajevo began with them kneeling against each other 'more on the ice. They had no other choice. The Bolero, which ranges from the stealth of a snake charmer to a violent thunderstorm, could not be compressed into the four minutes and 10 seconds intended for musical accompaniment. But the couple saw a loophole in the law. The timer doesn't officially start until the first blade hits the ice. To start, we kneel down, turn around, and soak for another 18 seconds before standing up. Foot . and skate, your routine would still be beautiful. Dean gently shaved the ice where needed during the warm-up to avoid his knees, which gave much less traction than a sharp blade and kept them from slipping underneath .

The exercise ended with both standing with their backs to the ice, prostrating themselves and lifting their chests. In In the final minutes, he took the Sarajevo audience and 23 million British viewers to new heights. Flowers fell onto the ice. A house full of perfect art stamps lit up the bulletin board. “Tonight we reached the summit. I don't remember the show. “It just happened,” Dean said at the time. Any fear of his music, his acting or his steps has disappeared. An anonymous rival coach had a theory. The New York Times found that only Torvill and Dean's magic was strong enough to fill the sport's gaps. “Maybe,” they said, “the judges should accept Torvill and Dean because they are so good.” “But they don't want ice dancing to change drastically, so they're willing to punish anyone who tries to be different. 

However, everything has changed for Torvill and Dean.

Torvill & Dean relive Bolero 30 years on | Reuters

Princess Anne raised a toast with champagne in the stands. Her mother, Queen Elizabeth II, sent her a signed telegram congratulating her on a show which she "attended with great pleasure".

As when they returned at home, Torvill and Dean greeted them. She greeted fans from the back of an open truck with a police escort. In the same year, Elton John presented them with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Everywhere they went, one question was asked over and over again. : Could this love story end on ice if they ran away? What if, after suspending disbelief, his fans really needed to return to a more mundane reality?

In a press conference, a journalist asked if they would get married.

“Well, not this week,” Dean smiled. Torvill reacted Noticing that the couple seemed closer than other couples, she simply responded with a look at her partner and an enigmatic "Yes." “We don't consciously try to maintain an aura about it, but we don't even talk about it,” Dean says and weighs in on the speculation. “We kept it at arm's length, so I guess people would speculate about it. People believe in what you do on the ice.  “If we represent two people in love and people believe us, then we are doing our job well,” adds Torvill. A novel that reaches millions of people is one thing. Allowing the illusion to last more than a decade is another matter. In 1994, the rules changed. A relaxation of regulations has allowed Torvill and Dean, now aged 36 and 35 respectively, to return to attempt a stunning repeat. Circumstances have also changed. However, Torvill and Dean were now married, albeit to different people, much to the disappointment of many fans. Furthermore, they were no longer the golden couple of the sport, ready to win medals of the same color. “I think some people thought we would return to glory . " Dean said. "But really, we wanted to come back to test ourselves and take on the challenge.

For them it was a measure.

“Obviously there were countries and skaters competing, ready for a medal, who climbed this tree and who are were surprised to do so. The story behind it was different. The context had changed. Tactics also had to change.

After a series of poor imitations in the After "With Torvill's Routine and Dean's Bolero", the skating authorities became stricter in their choice of music and banned couples to kneel or lie down to begin the ice routine.

"Because we had a reputation for breaking the rules, so to speak, and we came back after 10 years as professionals. We really wanted to adapt and not come to Lillehammer and say, 'We can do this and survive,'" adds Torvill.

They didn't dare try, recreating the audacity and the authenticity of the Bolero. Instead, they opted for a "Let's face the song and dance" routine. It was a joyous, dazzling and complex finale for the show, full of splendor and making the world of showbiz shine. . It was different from the Bolero: less brutal, more beautiful, but as the couple kissed and the music gave way to applause, it seemed like it could have the same result.

The flowers fell, the audience stood up, the dream lived, the fairy tale continued.

Until it stopped doing so. The technical merit scores arrived amidst screams of disgust from the fans. Although they had nine perfect art prints on the Boléro, they only got one on the Lillehammer. The advantage that the two Britons maintained until the final stage was shared between them. Torvill, still holding a handful of bouquets in his arms, walked sadly backstage. They would only get bronze. "We were a little surprised by the results," Dean said at the time, pausing before correcting himself.
“Very surprised.  The newspapers at home were less reserved. The “gold robbery” was one of the titles. The judges were accused of “bias” or “madness” in a tabloid. One newspaper said the credibility of ice dancing as a sport had been "destroyed" by his routine.

After another 30 years, Dean becomes more philosophical.

Torvill and Dean announce skating retirement on 40th anniversary of Olympic  gold – The Irish News

"We took some advice," he says, choosing his latest free dance routine. “It wasn't bad advice, but I don't know if it was the right advice. “As an artist and an artist, passion and passion. "It's a really important thing."

Those who follow Torvill and Dean in sport now have no shortage of advice.

Free Dance includes a comprehensive list of content that must be included in each performance. Every single item is weighed, measured and graded according to a gold standard. The risks are reduced. Surprises are kept to a minimum.
Standardization leaves less room for the confusion and controversy of 1994, but also less room for something as original as 1984.

“You know you get that kind of lift, you gotta do that pirouette and that footwork,” Dean says of the modern ice dancing scene.
“It depends on the quantity and quality you put into it, but it really depends on the quantity. “Sport has evolved in its development.” In athletics the level of skating is incredible, but that means there is a certain similarity. " Torvill and Dean's last dance is almost here. Tickets are now available for a 28-date farewell tour, culminating in Glasgow l 'May 11, 2025. It will be the end of her 50 years of combining ice skating and bolero, and the chance to suspend disbelief once again will be certainly the center of attention. They may have been banned from the sport, but their ongoing romance keeps audiences in their seats.