The 1972 Canadian Figure Skating Championships

Scandinavian pop sensations ABBA got their start and people went gaga for Atari arcade game Pong. The year was 1972, and before the World's best figure skaters gathered in Sapporo, Japan to compete in the Winter Olympic Games and in Calgary, Alberta for the World Championships, Canada's best skaters convened in London, Ontario from January 13 to 16 for the 1972 Canadian Figure Skating Championships. With career-altering Olympic spots on the line for singles and pairs and World spots for dancers on the line, it was do or die for the twelve men, twenty women and four pairs and seven dance teams entered in the senior competitions. How did things play out in London? Let's take a look back!


Multiple panel judging was used in the novice and junior singles events. After twelve teams tackled the Fourteenstep, American Waltz and Rocker Foxtrot in the initial round, Nicole and Pierre Nadeau of Montreal led the pack. After the elimination of all but four teams, the Nadeau's managed to hang on to their early lead, winning the novice ice dance event with superior performances of the Foxtrot and Tango. An unprecedented fifteen teams vied for the novice pairs title, and in a three-way split of the judges panel, Londoners Cheri and Dennis Pinner came out on top by the slimmest of margins. The results were just as close in the novice women's event, when Judy Bowden of the Cricket Club narrowly upset Kim Alletson of the Minto Skating Club, who had won the figures. Though Kevin Robertson of the Granite Club was the unanimous winner of the novice men's title, it was the performance of Barry Fraser that stole the show. He vaulted from sixth after the figures to secure the silver medal. A young Brian Pockar finished tenth. In a four-three split of the judges panel, Linda Watts and Don Fraser of Richmond Hill defeated Daria Prychun and Roger Uuemae of the Cricket Club to claim the junior pairs title. Judy Currah and Keith Caughell were the unanimous winners of junior dance.

Lynn Nightingale, her sister and dog. Photo courtesy Marie Petrie McGillvray.

Lynn Nightingale may have been fifth after the figures in the junior women's competition, but a sublime free skate moved her all the way up to first. Moving up from third after figures, Chatham's Lee Armstrong was the winner of the junior men's competition.   


After the Starlight Waltz, Rhumba, Argentine Tango and OSP, defending champions and newlyweds Louise (Lind) and Barry Soper held a solid lead. Their effervescent free dance easily scored top marks from all seven judges and earned them the sole ticket to the World Championships in Calgary. Barbara Berezowski and David Porter finished a solid second. Linda Roe and Michael Bradley skated a very strong free dance to claim the bronze medal, dropping Judy Currah and Keith Caughell to fourth.


The pairs podium. Photo courtesy Marie Petrie McGillvray.

For the fourth straight year, Mary Petrie had to settle for the silver medal at the Canadian Championships. The silver lining to that silver was that she and partner John Hubbell earned a spot on both the Olympic and World teams. The winners, Toronto siblings Sandra and Val Bezic, dazzled in claiming their third consecutive Canadian title. Their short program was set to "Tin Roof Blues" and their free skate was a medley of music by Chopin, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. Marian Murray and Glen Moore, who'd been training in California under Mr. John Nicks, finished third; Linda Tasker and Allen Carson fourth.

Sandra and Val Bezic. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.


Toller Cranston in 1972. Photo courtesy "Skating" magazine.

After amassing a considerable lead in the school figures, defending champion Toller Cranston spellbound audience members and judges alike with his winning free skate, earning six 5.9's for technical merit and a quartet of 6.0's for artistic impression. He received a standing ovation for his performance and earned Canada's lone men's berth on the Olympic and World teams. Paul Bonenfant of the Capilano Winter Club, who had been a solid second in figures, managed to fend of Kenneth Folk for the silver medal. Patrick McKilligan, Ron Shaver and Stan Bohonek rounded out the top six.


Karen Magnussen in London

Due to a fractured pelvis, nineteen year old Cathy Lee Irwin was forced to watch the 1971 Canadian Championships from the sidelines, supported by a pair of crutches. She had returned to competition triumphantly the autumn prior to the Canadian Championships in London, winning the silver medal at the Richmond Trophy in England. However, a disappointing sixth place finish in the figures all but took her out of the running for the silver medal. The gold, of course, was expected to go to the darling of Canadian figure skating, Karen Magnussen. Magnussen amassed a huge lead in figures but fell on both of her double Axel attempts in the free skate. Aside from those two mistakes, her program was otherwise top notch and it was still enough for her to unanimously win her fourth Canadian title. The silver went to Ruth Hutchinson and Irwin moved up to take the bronze. Preston's Janice Maikawa, who had been second in figures, dropped all the way down to sixth behind Daria Prychun and the previous year's bronze medallist Diane Hall.

Cynthia Miller competing in London. Photo courtesy Cynthia Miller.

Also competing were Cynthia Miller, pairs medallists Mary Petrie and Marian Murray and future legendary choreography Sarah Kawahara. Petrie was the only skater in the event to land a triple jump... a rare feat in those days! All three medallists would be named to the Olympic team, but Hutchinson would be forced to withdraw when she broke her arm on the way back to the Olympic Village after a practice session. The fact there had been twenty entries in the senior women's event in London stemmed from the 'problem' that anyone with a Gold test could compete at Sectionals, there were twelve sections at the time and the top three finishers at each Sectionals earned a trip to the Canadian Championships. This theoretically meant that there could be thirty six entries. David Dore later stated of the entries in London, "half of them shouldn't have been there." From the number of entries in the London event came the CFSA's development of the Divisionals, which were first held in 1974.

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