Worlds Rewind: Calgary 1972

As the countdown to the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 in Montreal, Quebec continues, we look back at previous world championships staged in Canada. Part 3 of the ten-part series reflects on the 1972 world championships in Calgary.

For the third time in history – and the first time since Vancouver in 1960 – the ISU World Figure Skating Championships landed in Canada when Calgary, Alberta hosted the world from March 7-11, 1972.

Just like previous world championships that were staged in Canada – Montreal in 1932 and Vancouver in 1960 – the 1972 World Championships, which were held at the Stampede Corral, came in an Olympic year, with Sapporo, Japan hosting the Games the month prior to worlds.

The 1972 World Championship podiums were almost a carbon copy of the Olympics, with all gold and silver medallists from Sapporo earning the same medals in Calgary. Ice dance was not an Olympic event but was contested at the world championships.

In the men’s competition, Ondrej Nepela of Czechoslovakia won his second of three consecutive world titles, edging out the Soviet Union’s Sergei Chetverukhin for gold. Vladimir Kovalev of the Soviet Union earned the bronze medal.

Karen Magnussen
Karen Magnussen

Just a few weeks after finishing second to Austria’s Beatrix Schuba in Sapporo, Karen Magnussen of Vancouver, B.C., once again earned silver in Calgary, with Shcuba winning her second straight ladies’ world crown. Magnussen would go on to win the world championship the following year and was the last Canadian to win the ladies’ world title until Kaetlyn Osmond accomplished the feat in 2018.

Just like the Sapporo Olympics, it was a battle of the Soviet Union’s top two teams for pairs gold and, once again, it was the tandem of Irina Rodnina and Alexei Ulanov holding off compatriots Liudmila Smirnova and Andrei Suraikin for the top spot. A day before the competition, Rodnina and Ulanov had an accident while performing a lift, and Rodnina was taken to hospital with a concussion and an intracranial hematoma. The duo went on to compete and won their fourth straight world championship. They competed together for the final time in Calgary, and Rodnina would go on to win six straight world titles with new partner Alexander Zaitsev starting in 1973.

JoJo Starbuck and Kenneth Shelley of the United States secured pairs bronze.

Liudmila Pakhomova and Alexander Gorshkov of the Soviet Union took gold in ice dance, narrowly defeating Angelika Buck and Erich Buck of West Germany. Americans Judy Schwomeyer and James Sladky finished third.

The world championships would return to Canada six years later, when Ottawa played host to the 1978 edition of the event.

All-event tickets for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 are on sale now and can be purchased online at, by phone at 1-855-310-2525 or in person at the Centre Bell Box Office.