Krisztina Regőczy and Andras Sallay

Hungary’s Ice Dance Heroes

Krisztina Regoczy and Andras Sallay

Krisztina Regőczy was just 14 and her ice dance partner, Andras Sallay, only 16 when they made their international debut at the 1970 European Championships.

The duo placed 13th at that comp-etition and repeated the result at their World Championship debut in 1973.

Competing in an era dominated by the Soviets, Regőczy and Sallay spent many years rising through the ice dance ranks.

Their first breakthrough into the upper echelons of the discipline came at the 1977 European Championships, where they placed second behind the Soviet team of Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponossov.

For the next three years they had to settle for bronze at Europeans, losing each time to Linichuk and Karponossov and the other high-ranking Soviet team, Irina Moiseeva and Andrei Minenkov.

The trend prevailed at the World Championships until 1979, when Regőczy and Sallay mined silver in Vienna ahead of Moiseeva and Minenkov.

Later that year, Regőczy and Sallay won the Olympic test event Flaming Leaves Norton Skate (which later became known as Skate America) by a unanimous judging decision.

They danced into second at Europ-eans a couple of months later and had high hopes of capturing the golden crown at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.

But their dream was shattered when the duo were ranked second behind Linichuk and Karponossov.

It was a controversial decision, and when the results were announced, the audience voiced its disagreement with the judges’ decision.

Linichuk had stumbled in the free dance and, in what was regarded as one of the closest calls at the time, the result was tainted by the British judge’s misunderstanding of the rules.

Regőczy recalled it as a bittersweet moment. “We felt we skated our best and the crowd really responded, but when the result flashed, we were very, very disappointed,” she told Ice Skating International’s Sandra Stevenson in a 2009 interview.

Regőczy and Sallay got their revenge a few weeks later when they claimed gold at the 1980 World Championships, defeating both of the Soviet teams. They subsequently retired from the competitive arena.

The nine-time Hungarian champ-ions were coached by Great Britain’s Betty and Roy Callaway for most of their 17-year career. Their training time was split between London, England, and Obertsdorf, Germany, where the Callaways coached Angelika Buck and Erich Buck, the three-time World silver medalists and the 1972 European champions.

In 1979, when the Callaways took on the fledgling team of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, Regőczy and Sallay relocated to Nottingham to train with them.

After coaching in the U.S. for many years, Regőczy returned to her hometown of Budapest. She is the figure skating sports director for the International Skating Union and was part of the committee that transitioned the compulsory dance out of the ice dance discipline.

Sallay moved into the corporate world and is the vice-president and managing director of IMG Hungary. He has two daughters: Nora, 25, and Laura, 20.

Originally published in February 2011

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