Following in the footsteps of some of the greatest World and Olympic champions in the history of the sport, Emmerich Danzer was the last of the great Austrian skaters.
Born March 15, 1944, Danzer took up skating at the age of 5 in his hometown of Vienna. In 1953, he began training with Herta Wächter, who, along with Karl Schäfer, founded the famous “Karl Schäfer Ice Revue.”
He had the rare combination of being strong in compulsory figures and was acknowledged as an excellent free skating competitor.
At his first World Championships, Danzer placed seventh. Rising steadily through the ranks, he claimed the first of three World titles in 1966. He became a hero in his homeland. It had been 28 years since fellow Austrian Felix Kaspar had left the competitive arena after capturing his second consecutive World title in 1938.
A four-time national champion, Danzer won four consecutive European titles (1965-68). He went on to win two further successive World titles in 1967 and 1968.
Heading into the 1968 Olympic Winter Games, Danzer was considered the favorite for gold. But one of his strongest skating skills let him down.
He came to an almost complete stop during the execution of a compulsory figure and received fourth-place marks. Danzer was unable to recover despite a strong free skate. The audience disagreed with the result, but the charismatic skater had no issue with the outcome of the competition.
Austrian television commentator and 1949 European champion Eva Pawlik thought Danzer should have won the bronze.
Danzer’s accomplishments were acknowledged by the Austrian people. He was named national athlete of the year in 1966 and1967.
During his career, Danzer recorded a song “Sag es mir” (“Tell Me”) that became a hit in Austria.
In 1968 he turned professional and performed with the Vienna Ice Revue and Holiday on Ice tours for seven years.
He retired from skating in 1975 and relocated to the United States, where he worked as a figure skating coach for the next 12 years.
Danzer returned to his Austrian homeland in 1989 and accepted a position with an insurance company. He is responsible for the athlete insurance programs and the sponsorship of sporting events. Danzer is also a figure skating commentator for Austrian television.
He was elected president of the Austrian figure skating association in 1995, a position he held for two years.
In 2000, Danzer took over the presidency of the Wiener Eislauf-Verein figure skating club.
Originally published in December 2010