This Retrospective looks back at the 1960 Olympics
The key facts in relation to these Olympics are:-
- David Jenkins wins the Olympic title. Karol Divín had won the compulsories, but Jenkins, a strong free skater, won the free program to take the title. Divín finished 5th in the free skate, but did enough to take the silver medal. In the lead up to the Olympics, Jenkins had won the world title on 3 consecutive occasions between 1957-59. He had also won the bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics, a competition in which his brother, Hayes Alan Jenkins, had won the Olympic title. David Jenkins was renowned for his jumping ability and this 1957 exhibition features him performing a 3A, 21 years prior to Vern Taylor first performing one in a competition (the 1978 World Championships). Jenkins retired straight after the Olympics (passing up the opportunity to defend his world title) to perform in Ice Follies
- Donald Jackson won the Bronze medal. He would go on to win his one and only world title at the 1962 World Championships, at which he performed the first ever 3Z in competition. He retired after the 1962 world championships
- Carol Heiss wins the Gold medal in the Ladies competition, having won the Silver medal at the previous Olympics behind Tenley Albright. In winning the Olympic title, she won both the compulsories and the free skate. Her win was so emphatic, that every judge made her the winner of the school figures, and 8 out of 9 judges made her the winner of the free skate. The only dissenting judge made Barbara Roles the winner of the free skate. When Heiss won silver at the 1956 Olympics, it was to be her last ever defeat, as following the 1956 Olympics, Heiss defeated Albright at the 1956 World Championships. She would then retain her world title at each of the next 4 world championships. Heiss had the option of turning professional after the 1956 Olympics, but her mother passed away in October 1956 due to cancer. Prior to her mother's death, her mother persuaded her to remain an amateur in order to try and win the Olympic title in 1960. Accordingly, when her mother died, Heiss set herself the goal of winning the Olympic title in her mothers memory. Heiss is married to Hayes Alan Jenkins
- Sjoukje Dijkstra won the Silver medal by a small margin over Barbara Roles. Dijkstra finished second behind Heiss in the compulsories, but finished third behind Roles (who placed second in the free program) in the free skate, doing just enough to retain second place overall to take the Silver medal. Dijkstra would go on to win the Gold medal at the 1964 Olympics, replicating the achievement of Carol Heiss of winning a Silver and Gold medal at successive Olympics.
- Laurence Owen finished 6th at these Olympics. She was 15 years old. As pointed out in a previous Retrospective, one intriguing aspect is the great 'what if', in terms of who would have won the gold medal at the 1964 Olympics had Owen not been killed as a result of the crash of Sabena Flight 548 in 1961. One yardstick by which to gauge how things may have panned out is Wendy Griner. Owen had just beaten Griner into second place to win the 1961 North American Championships. Griner then went on to take the Silver medal at the 1962 World Championships, finishing second to Dijkstra. Hence, even as early as 1962, it would appear as though Owen would have been challenging Dijkstra for supremacy. Another yardstick is Regine Heitzer, who won the silver medal at the 1964 Olympics, and Nicole Hassler, who finished 4th at the same event. At the 1960 Olympics, Owen finished 6th, beating both Heitzer (7th) and Hassler (11th) in the process.
- Barbara Wagner & Robert Paul win the pairs competition. Prior to the Olympics, they had won 3 consecutive world titles between 1957-59 (and remained unbeaten since finishing 6th at the 1956 Olympics, and 5th at the 1956 world championships). They would retain their world title after the Olympics at the 1960 world championships, before retiring. Paul would later go on to become a highly respected choreographer for skaters such as Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill.
- The Soviet Union made its Olympic figure skating debut in these Olympics by entering 2 pairs, Nina Zhuk & Stanislav Zhuk who finished 6th, and guess who else? Yes, Ludmila Belousova & Oleg Protopopov ("The Protopopovs"), who finished 9th. The Protopopovs would of course go on to dominate the pairs competition over the coming decade, winning the Olympic title in 1964 and 1968, plus world titles between 1965-68. Zhuk & Zhuk had won 3 consecutive silver medals at the European Championships between 1958-60. Stanislav Zhuk later went on to coach Rodnina & Zaitsev, and Gordeeva & Grinkov.
- The 1956 Olympics were the last Olympics at which the figure skating events were held outdoors. At the 1960 Olympics, they were held indoors at the Blyth Memorial Arena (capacity - 8,500), built in 1959 specifically for the Squaw Valley Olympics to hold the figure skating and ice hockey events. It was also used for the opening ceremony. After the Olympics, it became a full time ice hockey arena, but had to be demolished in 1983 after the roof collapsed due to a build up of snow. The Olympic figure events had previously been held indoors in 1908, 1920, and 1932.
- A year after these Olympics, the entire U.S. Figure Skating Team was killed in the Sabena Flight 548 air disaster en route to the 1961 World Championships (which were cancelled following the tragedy).
Here are some videos in relation to the medal winning performances:-
Gold: David Jenkins (USA)
Silver: Karol Divín (Czechoslovakia)
No Video Available. However, here is a video featuring the men during practice. He may be one of the men featured, but I cannot confidently identify him. Here is a photograph of him. Maybe you can spot him in the video?
Bronze: Donald Jackson (Canada)
No Video Available. However, here is his Free Skate from the 1962 World Championships, which he won. This program features the first ever 3Z in competition.
1st Triple Lutz + Interview
Gold: Carol Heiss (USA)
Free Skate + Interview
Ladies Practice, Ladies Practice
Silver: Sjoukje Dijkstra (Netherlands)
No Video Available. However, here is a feature on her win at the 1960 European Championships, which took place just a few weeks prior to the 1960 Olympics
Bronze: Barbara Roles (USA)
No Video Available. However, here is her Free Skate from the 1962 World Championships (appears 48 seconds in), in which she finished 5th. She had actually retired after the 1960 World Championships. Nevertheless, she was asked to make a comeback specifically for the 1962 World Championships, as the U.S. figure skating team had been severely depleted by the 1961 air disaster
6th: Laurence Owen (USA)
Footage of Laurence Owen from the 1960 Olympics (starts 5 minutes 16 seconds in)
Gold: Barbara Wagner & Robert Paul (Canada)
Free Skate (starts 2 minutes 57 seconds in)
Silver: Marika Kilius & Hans-Jürgen Bäumler (Germany)
Free Skate (starts 45 seconds in)
Bronze: Nancy Ludington & Ronald Ludington (USA)
Free Skate (also features the other pairs medalists)
Free Skate (featured at the beginning, but not named)
4th: Maria Jelinek & Otto Jelinek (Canada)
Free Skate (starts 1 minute 52 seconds in)