Host City: Innsbruck, Austria
Venue(s): Olympic Ice Stadium, Innsbruck
Date Started: February 4, 1976
Date Finished: February 9, 1976
Format: Each judge ranked each couple by Ordinal Placement from first through last place. The Ordinal Placement for each judge was based on Total Points awarded by that judge to the couples. The points were based on 30% for the Compulsory Dances, 20% for the Original Set Pattern Dance, and 50% for the Free Dance, with the tiebreaker for each judge being the Free Dance score. Final placement was determined by a Majority Placement rule. Thus, if a couple was ranked first by a majority of the judges, that couple was placed first overall, and the process was repeated for each place. Ties were broken by a Subsequent Majority rule, i.e., if the couples were ranked for the same position by the same number of judges, Majority Placement for the next higher position for each couple determined who was ranked higher. The tiebreakers were then, in order: 1) Number of Majority Placements, 2) Total Ordinals of Majority, 3) Total Ordinals, 4) Total Points.
This was the Olympic début of ice dancing as a medal sport. It had been exhibited at the Olympics in both 1948 and 1968. World Championships had been contested in ice dancing since 1952, and European Championships since 1954. Originally the leaders in this style of figure skating were the British. British couples had won the Worlds from 1952-60 and again in 1966-69. But by 1976, the greatest dance couple was the Soviet team of Lyudmila Pakhomova, a former pairs skater who had competed in that event at the 1966 Europeans, and Aleksandr Gorshkov. They were World Champions in 1970-74 and European Champions in 1970-71, and 1973-76, losing only at the Europeans in 1972 (their only loss between 1970-76), as they did not compete at the 1975 Worlds when Gorshkov was ill. They were expected to be challenged by their teammates, Irina Moiseyeva and Andrey Minenkov, the 1975 World Champions. But it was not close. Pakhomova/Gorshkov won all three phases of the competition and were ranked first by all nine judges, with their teammates winning the silver medal. The bronze medal went to the Americans, Colleen O’Connor and Jim Millns, who had been second at the 1975 Worlds.