Dafoe and Bowden easily became World Champions in 1954 and repeated for a second year, but in 1956 they slipped to second place behind the Austrians Elisabeth Schwartz and Kurt Oppelt at both the Olympic Games and the World Championships.
The Olympic results were hotly debated , partly because Dafoe and Bowden had defeated Schwartz and Oppelt consistently for four years, but the controversy related primarily to the Canadian's overhead lifts, which, some critics claimed, violated ISU rules. Questions were raised regarding the number of revolutions done at full extension, and charges contended that Dafoe was being carried. Although athletic movements not yet covered in the rulebook were incorporated in their routines, increased athleticism was not new. It was the wave of the future and in the spirit of the postwar style.
The controversy caused the ISU to debate, review, and amend pair skating rules over the next few years, especially with regard to the number of revolutions of the lifting partner allowed at full extension. The number, set at three, was later increased to three and a half. An indirect result of the controversy was movement toward a short or technical program. Pair skating at the time was decided on the basis of a single free skate.
The Canadians finished ahead of the Austrians by a tenth of a point, 101.9 to 101.8, at the Olympic Games, but points decided a winner only if the total ordinals and majorities were tied. Both pairs received four first-place ordinals, but the Austrians received more second-place ordinals than the Canadians.