Pair skating is a lilting ice ballet which leads off the Olympic skating program, and at this sport—or art—Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul are the best in the world. These perfectionists on ice (SI, Dec. 15, 1958) have the talent and the experience to perform the most difficult and dangerous lifts, spins and spirals. They have a feeling for music and showmanship that is particularly important in the pairs event, in which all scoring is based on a five-minute free-skating program set to music the contestants choose themselves.
Like all the other skaters at Squaw Valley, Canada's Barbara and Bob are keeping their Olympic routine secret. It is no secret, however, that they are too good to finish with anything but a gold medal. The silver should go to Marika Kilius and Hans-J√ºrgen B√§umler of Germany, who nosed out Russia's spectacular but less-polished team of Stanislav and Nina Zhuk for the European title last week.
In the Ladies' singles, the Netherlands has two medal candidates in Sjoukje Dijkstra and Joan Haanappel, who finished first and third respectively in last week's European championships. Notably missing from the top three was Ina Bauer (opposite), who scored a disappointing fourth in the school figures, then shocked everyone by announcing she was retiring from amateur skating and would not go to the Olympics.
No matter what girls go to Squaw Valley, however, none will beat the queen of figure skating, Carol Heiss (pages 30-31). Carol rules the ice with serene self-confidence in both phases of the competition. In the school figures, which are elaborations of the old-fashioned skating-pond figure eights, she can trace the same pattern over and over again with either foot, gliding forward or backward, on inside or outside edges with unshakable aplomb. Her proficiency in this exacting though unspectacular activity virtually assures her of the over-all title, because school figures account for 60% of each skater's total score. The other 40% is awarded for freestyle skating, in which Carol is the finest artist on the ice today. She has no competition but the standards she sets for herself.
Last-minute pre-Games drama was provided by pretty 19-year-old from Krefeld, who suddenly announced she would not compete in Squaw Valley.
WOMEN'S FIGURE SKATING
Resplendent in her Olympic costume, Carol flashes a smile which reflects the natural confidence of a girl who is an almost-sure gold medal winner.