Host City: Lake Placid, United States
Venue(s): Olympic Field House International Ice Rink, Lake Placid; Olympic Field House US Ice Rink, Lake Placid
Date Started: February 18, 1980
Date Finished: February 20, 1980
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, with the tiebreaker for Free Dance being the Artistic Impression score. 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.
Nataliya Linichuk and Gennady Karponosov (URS) won the 1978 and 1979 World Championships, and the 1979-80 Europeans, and were coached by Yelena Chaykovskaya, who had coached the 1976 ice dance gold medalists. They were expected to be challenged by the 1976 silver medalists, Irina Moiseyeva and Andrey Minenkov, and a Hungarian couple, Krisztina Regőczy and András Sallay. In the end, Moiseyeva and Minenkov were not a factor for gold, placing third. Linichuk and Karponosov won the compulsory dance and the optional set dance, leading over the Hungarians into the free dance. But the Hungarians, who became wildly popular with the Lake Placid audience, won the free dance. The battle for the gold was the closest in Olympic ice dance history. Four judges ranked the Soviets first, four ranked the Hungarians first, with the British judge having them tied. This brought it down to the tie-breaker of total ordinals, which the Soviets won, 13-14, giving them the gold medal. The actual deciding vote was cast by the Soviet judge, to nobody’s surprise, who ranked Regőczy and Sallay only third. Wallechinsky has noted, “The announcement of the results was greeted by catcalls and boos from the American audience, which preferred the lively, upbeat style of Regőczy and Sallay to the staid, traditional image of Linichuk and Karponosov.” Regőczy and Sallay would return in a few weeks to win the 1980 World Championships.