Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

For more info on my individual books, please visit!



Friday, December 30, 2005


In 1952, when Dick Button won his second Olympic gold medal and turned professional, he wanted to keep competing. But, there was no place for him to go to fulfill that ambition.

Even a decade later, the only professional competitive opportunity was the World Professional Competition in Jaca, Spain. (Established in 1931, it originated in England, then moved to Spain in the 1960s). However, that event was mostly for ice-show skaters, an "open" contest that accepted all comers, regardless of ability. The majority performed the same numbers they skated every night in shows like "Ice Capades," only without show-lighting, and were judged by their peers. Prize money was $2,500 for singles, and $3,000 to be split between both partners in a Pairs or Dance team.

After convincing ABC and CBS to televise amateur events, Dick Button, in the late 1960s, approached the ISU with a plan to start a similar, professional circuit. But, interest was minimal. The ISU thought a pro world championship was too radical of an idea.

Working independently, in 1973, Button presented the initial World Professional Figure Skating Championship, in Tokyo. His plan was to provide a place where skaters could develop their craft and their artistry, a sort of graduate school for the elite.

He wanted to give every skater the opportunity to keep growing as a performer and a technician, and, to this day, he grows disappointed when some fail to take advantage of their chance, or when he sees pro skaters who don't change or progress from who they were as amateurs.

For instance, 1992 Olympic Bronze Medalist Petr Barna used to drive Button crazy. Dick wanted to know why no one would take Barna in hand and do something with him, teach him to stand up, to stretch, to have a concept for a routine? It broke his heart, because he saw potential wasted.

Button also wanted to establish a pro competition as a setting for skaters to earn sufficient money.

In 1973, first prize at this World Professional Championship was $15,000 in each category.

The first competitors at the event included newly turned pro Janet Lynn beating Hungary's Zsuzsa Almassy. As an indicator of the upsets that were soon to characterize professional competition, the last time Lynn and Almassy had gone head to head, at the 1969 Worlds, Janet finished 5th, while Almassy won the Bronze.

Over in the men's division, American spinning sensation and the 1955 & 1956 World Silver Medalist Ronnie Robertson defeated Canada's Don Jackson, the 1962 World Champion and first man to perform a Triple Lutz in competition. In last place was John Misha Petkevich, who won his only U.S. title in 1971, fifteen years after Robertson retired.

The Pairs division was won by the Soviet Olympic champs, the Protopopovs. Determined that his World Professional Championship live up to the internationalism of its name, Button invited them through the USSR Federation. The skaters were dying to come, but, until the moment they stepped off the plane in Japan, no one knew whether their government would let them. (Because the USSR Federation refused to cooperate, the next Soviets to compete at World Pros were 1984 Olympic and 1988 World Champions Valova & Vasiliev, in 1989. When Button's Candid Productions tried to request Soviet skaters through official channels, they were always turned down. It was only when they went straight to the skaters themselves that Russians became World Pro regulars).

As unwilling to give up control in the 1970s as they would be in the 1990s, the ISU fought Button's "unauthorized" championship, making it necessary to wait seven years before another one could be held. (In the meantime, Button put on events called The World Skate Challenge, to bypass the ISU's objections over his use of the words World Championship....)

(To Be Continued...)


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Previous Skaters