Host City: Calgary, Canada
Venue(s): Olympic Saddledome, Calgary; Stampede Corral, Calgary
Date Started: February 14, 1988
Date Finished: February 16, 1988
Format: The pairs were ranked on Ordinal Placement for each section of the competition, based on judges' points, with final placement for each section determined by Majority Placements. The tiebreaker for the Original Program was the Required Elements score, while the tiebreaker for the Free Skating was the Artistic Impression score. Thus, if a pair was ranked first by a majority of the judges, that skater was placed first overall for that section. Ties were broken by a Subsequent Majority rule. The tiebreakers were then, in order, 1) Number of Majority Placements, 2) Total Ordinals of Majority, 3) Total Ordinals. Final placement was determined by factored placements. The placement for the Original Program was factored by 0.4 (28.57%), and the placement for Free Skating was factored by 1.0 (71.43%). The sums of the factored placements were then used to determine final placement, with the Free Skating being the tiebreaker.
The Soviets had continued their dominance of pairs skating, now led by the tandem of Yekaterina “Kati” Gordeyeva and Sergey Grinkov, who had won the 1986-87 World Championships. But until 1988, they had yet to win the Europeans, those titled going to their teammates Yelena Valova and Oleg Vasilyev in 1985-86 and Larisa Seleznyeva and Oleg Makarov in 1987. However, only a few weeks before Calgary, Gordeyeva and Grinkov won the European title, establishing themselves as the favorites, although Valova and Vasilyev did not take part, as Valova was recovering from a foot injury that saw her hospitalized for almost a month. G&G were dominant in Calgary, winning both the short program and free skating easily, giving the Soviets their seventh consecutive gold medal in this event. Valova/Vasiliyev won silver, but the bronze was a surprise, going to the American pair of Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard. When Watson and Oppegard skated their free program, a photographer dropped his camera on the ice and crawled out to retrieve it, with Oppegard noticing him in the corner of his eye, but they continued their routine.