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Figure Skating at the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Games

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Host City: Sarajevo, Yugoslavia
Date Started: February 10, 1984
Date Finished: February 18, 1984
Events: 4

Participants: 114 (57 men and 57 women) from 20 countries
Youngest Participant: GDR Babette Preußler (15 years, 135 days)
Oldest Participant: USA William Fauver (29 years, 345 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 18 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): URS Soviet Union (5 medals)


A major change in the figure skating scoring system was in effect for the 1984 Winter Olympics. Previously, skaters and couples had been judged by a majority placement system for total scores. After all phases of the competition were skated, all the scores were added up, with percentages applied to each phase, and each judge ranked the skaters from first to last. The 1st place in the competition went to the skater who was chosen first by a majority of the judges (there were tie-breakers in case this did not occur). But by 1984, the scoring system was changed to one of factored placements. Majority placement was still used for each phase. But after each phase, the placement was multiplied by a factor for that phase – 30% for compulsory figures, 20% for short program and 50% for free skating for men and women in 1984. The effect of this was to place greater emphasis on the free skating. In most cases, after the short program, the three top-ranked skaters could win the competition by winning the free skate – thus, it was often said that they determined their own destiny. If any of the top three did not win the free skate, a lower-ranked skater could move up to first position, but this would rarely happen at international competitions. The same principle of scoring by factored placements was applied in pairs and ice dancing.

One other difference in 1984 was that the Soviet Union did not have the favorite in one of the couples’ events. In ice dancing, the British dance couple of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean – Torvill & Dean, or T&D for short – had won the last several World Championships and were expected to put on a show. They would not disappoint.