Krisztina Regőczy was just 14 when she and her ice dance partner, Andras Sallay, 16, made their international debut at the 1970 European Championships.
The Hungarian duo cracked the top 10 in their third Europeans appearance in 1973 and two months later placed 13th in their World Championship debut. Rising steadily through the ranks, their first breakthrough into the upper echelons of the discipline came at the 1977 Europeans, where they placed second behind the Soviet team of Irina Moiseeva and Andrei Minenkov.
For the next two years they settled for bronze at Europeans, losing each time to two Soviet teams: Natalia Linichuk and Gennady Karponossov and Moiseeva and Minenkov. That 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 (now Skate America), by a unanimous judging decision. They danced into second at Europeans a couple of months later and headed into the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid with high hopes.
However, their dream of claiming Olympic gold was shattered when the judges ranked the duo second behind Linichuk and Karponossov. It was a controversial decision. When the results were announced, the audience loudly voiced its disagreement.
Linichuk had stumbled in the free dance and, in what was regarded as one of the closest judging 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 said in a 2009 interview with Sandra Stevenson.
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 champions 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 continue training with them.
After coaching in the U.S. for many years, Regőczy returned to her hometown of Budapest. She was 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.