The 1960 European Figure Skating Championships

Olympia-Eisstadion in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, West Germany

Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh had just made history by descending into Mariana Trench, the lowest spot on Earth. Federico Fellini's Oscar winning film "La Dolce Vita" opened in Italy. The introduction of Lycra fabric was revolutionizing the fashion industry and everyone was swaying to Craig Douglas' hit "Pretty Blue Eyes".

The year was 1960 and from February 4 to 7, Europe's best figure skaters gathered at the site of the 1936 Winter Olympic Games - the Olympia-Eisstadion in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, West Germany - to compete in the European Figure Skating Championships. The West German media covered the event extensively and the BBC made an arrangement to broadcast three of the four disciplines live, with commentary by Alan Weeks - a huge contrast to the Olympics in Squaw Valley that followed, where Brits only got to see a half-minute clip of Carol Heiss' winning performance.

Though there was some marvellous skating in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the event was overshadowed by a high profile judging controversy, a withdrawal no one saw coming (but should have) and worrisome weather woes. In "Skating World" magazine, Dennis Bird lamented, "I have never felt so miserable watching a championship as I did at the European... Not, I hasten to add, on account of the skating, most of which was first-class. No - it was the weather, which robbed a great festival of skating of much of its enjoyment. I have stood in open-air rinks in a temperature of minus 10 degrees Centigrade before now, but at Garmisch the cold was accompanied by drizzle, snow, and bitter winds. The Garmisch weather is often like this in February, yet the ice rink, built twenty-five years ago, is still roofless. I understand that the question of a roof is discussed from time to time, but so far nothing has happened. I hope some form of protection against the weather will be provided before another ISU event is held in the Olympia-Eisstadion."

Let's take a look back at the skaters, stories and scandals that shaped the pre-Olympic Europeans in 1960!


Twenty skaters entered the men's event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen - the highest number of entries ever in that discipline at Europeans. Notably absent was two time and reigning Champion Karol Divín of Czechoslovakia, who injured himself in practice attempting a triple loop jump. The heavy favourite in his absence was France's Alain Giletti, who had won the event from 1955 to 1957 and finished second the previous two years.

As expected, Alain Giletti took a commanding lead in the school figures, placing first of every judge's scorecard except one. The Austrian judge, Hans Meixner, predictably placed his country's top entry Norbert Felsinger first. Manfred Schnelldorfer and Alain Calmat each had two second place ordinals, but Schnelldorfer had two thirds to Calmat's two - giving him a slight edge.

The men's free skate was a close contest. The Soviet judge tied Alain Giletti and Norbert Felsinger; the West German judge tied Giletti and Alain Calmat. The Italian, Swedish and Norwegian judges had Giletti first, while the Austrian, Czechoslovakian and British judges voted for Felsinger. The French judge placed Calmat first.

When the overall marks were tallied, Giletti defeated Felsinger seven judges to two and Schnelldorfer narrowly defeated Calmat for the bronze by fourth tenths of a point, though he had more ordinals. Confused by the math, Calmat appealed the decision, but the referee dismissed his protest, explaining, "The number of better places must be estimated even higher than the number of places itself." The UK's two entries, David Clements of Hanworth, Middlesex and Robin Jones of Putney, placed seventh and tenth. Per Kjølberg placed ninth and became the first Norwegian man to crack the top ten at Europeans since Martin Stixrud in 1923, but had ordinals ranging from seventh through fifteenth.


Twenty-six year old Courtney Jones had struck gold at the Europeans for three years running - in 1957 and 1958 with June Markham and in 1959 with his nineteen year old partner Doreen Denny. Denny and Jones were runaway winners of the compulsory dances and France's Christiane and Jean-Paul Guhel were unanimously second. All but one judge had the UK's number two team Mary Parry and Roy Perry third. The Italian judge placed them all the way down in eighth. West German medal contenders Rita Paucka and Peter Kwiet sat in fifth. Although they had 'a horse in the race', the West Germans didn't seem particularly interested in the dance event. Dennis L. Bird recalled, "Every German I spoke to brushed aside the dancing as of little importance and went on to enthuse about the pairs or free skaters. Sitting in a drizzle watching sixteen couples of varying skill executing the compulsory dances while the same monotonous music thumped drearily over the loudspeakers, I was inclined to agree with the German assessment."

Newspaper clipping about ice dancers Doreen Denny and Courtney Jones

Doreen Denny and Courtney Jones easily cruised to their second European title (his fourth) with a free dance full of clever steps and toe-work. The Guhel's placed a solid second, earning France's first silver medal in ice dancing at the Europeans. Mary Parry and Roy Mason won the bronze on the strength of their compulsories, with only two top three ordinals in the free dance ironically coming from the Italian judge who had given them dreadful marks in the competition's first stages. The judges didn't know quite what to do with young Czechoslovakian siblings Eva Romanová and Pavel Roman. Their ordinals ranged from third through tenth in the compulsories and third through seventh in the free dance. They finished seventh overall in their second trip to the Europeans. Four years later they would win the gold.

The ice dance podium at the 1960 European Figure Skating Championships
The ice dance podium. Photo courtesy Elaine Hooper, BIS Archive.

In his report for "The Times", Captain T.D. Richardson bemoaned, "Rain... combined with the dreary music, and the fact that many of the couples were completely lacking in the technique of the basic movements of skating, made it a very wearying business - brightened only by the brilliance of the title-holders, the elegance of the French champions, the youthful charm of the Czech couple, and the accurate performances of the other two British couples, as well as by the West Germans... reigning World's roller dance champions. With few exceptions the standard of the others was lamentable. After all, this was an international championship - not a club novices' event!"


Women's podium at the 1960 European Figure Skating Championships
The women's medallists. Photo courtesy Dutch National Archive.

Defending European Champion Hanna Walter had turned professional, paving the way for a three-way race between Holland's Sjoukje Dijkstra and Joan Haanappel and West Germany's own Ina Bauer. Sjoukje Dijkstra unanimously won the figures, with Joan Haanappel second and Austria's Regine Heitzer third, but the marks were all over the place. Both Italy's Anna Galmarini and the UK's Carolyn Krau had ordinals ranging from sixth to sixteenth. The "Bild-Zeitung" had published a rumour about Galmarini's planned elopement which had to have been quite distracting.

Sjoukje Dijkstra packed her free skate with an array of double jumps and earned first place marks from every judge, on the way to winning her first European title. Joan Haanappel had a bad day, and dropped down to third overall behind Regine Heitzer. The 'all over the place' judging continued, with no less than six skaters receiving top three ordinals in the free skate. The UK's Patricia Pauley, Anne Reynolds and Carolyn Krau finished the event in seventh, ninth and twelfth. In twenty seventh and dead last was a very young Tamara Bratus (Moskvina).

German figure skater Ina Bauer
Ina Bauer

The big story of the event was the withdrawal of nineteen year old Ina Bauer of Krefeld, who retired from amateur skating after finishing a disappointing fourth in the school figures. The "Bild-Zeitung" published a piece that was highly critical of her decision, which quoted Gundi Busch, Erich Zeller and Carlo Fassi. In "Skating World" magazine, Dennis Bird alluded to the fact that the decision may not have been her own: "In fairness to Frl. Bauer, it must be remembered that in Germany a father's power over his daughter is probably much greater than it might be in Britain; German women are still to some extent expected to subservient. Frl. Bauer herself may not have wished to retire. But whoever was to blame, the whole affair was regrettable."

An article that was published in "Der Spiegel" following the event gave some context as to why Ina Bauer's father might have played a role in her withdrawal from the event: "He no longer liked the atmosphere in which his daughter did her sport. Bauer explained: 'Even after the 1959 European Championship in Davos, I said: stop now! The nerve war unleashed against Ina went against the grain.' Until then, father Bauer had 'only once interfered in Ina's ice skating' - in a quarrel with a West German local newspaper that was widespread in Krefeld. The paper had successfully requested a training report from Ina Bauer's mother. The report contained the phrase: 'Ina Bauer has developed well'. He was illustrated with a photo that emphasized the female forms of the young ice skater. Caption: 'Ina has developed well. You can see how Ms. Bauer means it.' Father Bauer prohibited further publications of this kind, 'and from then on Ina was devalued in Krefeld.' Last summer, Carl Bauer was further troubled by the legal dispute with the [ISU], which forced him to 'intervene in Ina's ice skating' again. It was about an ice skating film made with the participation of Ina Bauer. Although the German Ice Sports Federation had raised no objection and 'we did not get a penny for the film', the ISU demanded that the film be withdrawn because of a violation of the amateur law and a ban on Ina. The violation of the amateur law, the ISU argued, consisted in the opening text that the film was made with the support of Shell AG's youth services. Carl Bauer, however, saw reason enough to oppose the ISU's request. His argument: In the German Olympic film as well as in equestrian films about Winkler and Thiedemann and even in a film about the figure skating - the Shell text will be tolerated. Bauer: 'No objection anywhere - but with my daughter!' When the Shell had their text removed, the ISU was not satisfied. Father Bauer: 'The name Ina Bauer should not be mentioned in connection with poster and advertisement advertising.' The ISU did not actually withdraw its threat until the film, which had been running for over a year, disappeared; the production company had to buy it back from the rental company. But even after the dispute... Father Bauer had to make a disturbing statement: "Even before the championship, her weakness in figures was pointed out [by the press]. Maybe she's too nervous for this sport. She is still a child. I no longer liked the stresses that she had to endure in her sport. "


Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler
Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler

The pairs event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen was an extremely close contest between Soviets Nina and Stanislav Zhuk and two talented West German pairs, Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler and Margret Göbl and Franz Ningel. The previous year at the Europeans in Davos, Kilius and Bäumler had finished first and Göbl and Ningel had placed fourth. Kilius and Ningel were actually former partners and had won the bronze medal at the Europeans three years in a row, from 1955 to 1957.

Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler took the gold with first place marks from the Austrian, East German, Swiss and Polish judges. The Soviet and Czechoslovakian judges gave had the Zhuk's in first, and they took the silver. The bronze went to Margret Göbl and Franz Ningel, who had the first place mark of the West German judge. You'd think that the West German audience would have been thrilled with one of their couples winning gold, but that's not exactly how things went down.

Margret Göbl and Franz Ningel
Margret Göbl and Franz Ningel

The performance of Margret Göbl, a twenty one year old dental technician from Oberammergau and Franz Ningel, a twenty three year old decorator from Frankfurt, was met by a thundering applause by the West German crowd. As far as the spectators were concerned, it was the best performance of the night by a mile. When their much lower than expected marks were read over the loudspeakers, the crowd went berserk and the judges were booed for several minutes. Heinz Maegerlein even recalled,
"Independently of each other, the television commentators from eleven channels designated Göbl / Ningel as the true European champions." The Olympia-Eisstadion was inundated with telegrams and there were so many phone calls from outraged viewers on television that the lines were blocked. A reporter from "Der Spiegel" wrote, "Everyone wanted to speak to Margret and Franz, to tell them that they were the heroes of the evening. The next day, the "Bild-Zeitung" ran the headline "Göbl / Ningel Cheated!" and called the event a mockery. The Berlin "Tagesspiegel" noted somberly, "It is a bad business, this figure skating, there is no doubt about it. And it is time for the ISU to take an iron broom." Margret Göbl told the press, "We knew beforehand that we would be third." Franz Ningel added, "We could have shattered in the air like fireworks - we would have been third. You don't run against achievements, you run against names." Margret Göbl and Franz Ningel weren't the only victims in the scandal. West German Adolf Walker was lumped in with the other six judges by the press, despite the fact he was the only one who had courageously dared to go against the grain and place Göbl and Ningel first.

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