I have fond memories of watching the Nationals and the World Championships, as telecast on ABC's Wide World of Sports. My first memory was way back in 1962, when as a kid, I watched portions of the Worlds from Prague, Czeckoslovakia, on black-and-white television. The coverage focused on
Maria and Otto Jelinek, whose family had defected from Czechoslovakia after World War II and settled in Canada. The brother and sister team won the World title before their home country audience, which went wild with joy at their victory. Their moves look simple by today's standards, but they were the best in the field in their day. Those championships also featured Canadian Donald Jackson, who won the title with the first-ever triple lutz in World competition. He received a number of 6.0s, all well deserved.
The commentators - Jim McKay and Dick Button - were always articulate and passionate about the sport of figure skating. What a pleasure it was to watch those early days of figure skating coverage!
I remember watching Peggy Fleming win her first US title in 1964. She was only 15, and she came from out of nowhere to win the title and qualify for the Olympic team. As she skated her long program, Carol Heiss, who was commentating, said, "I think we have just seen the next Olympic champion. This girl is only 15 years old, but she already has all of the moves. Now all she needs is experience." How true Carol was about Peggy.
In those days, the men wore bolero jackets and pants. The women wore dresses that, by today's standards, were quite simple and plain. They all looked wonderful, I thought, and could they ever skate!