A Study in Contrast. 1979.

Last Updated on August 1, 2020 by Netropolitan Museum

When Vienna, Austria, hosted the 1979 World Figure Skating Championships, 12 years had passed since the sport’s top event had been last contested in the Austrian capital. Times had changed. The 1967 World Championships were skated outdoors. The 1979 event was held in an indoor sports and convention center. The 1967 Worlds did not have a short program for singles. The short program at the 1979 Worlds was a make-or-break moment for some competitors. And, of course, by 1979, only three compulsory figures were skated in singles and accounted for only 30% of the score, down from six figures and 50% in 1967.

The pin issued to commemorate the 1979 World Championships mirrors how times had changed in that 12-year span, reflecting a design simplicity even as the sport itself was evolving and becoming more complex. The epoxy dome-covered pin is sleek with a geometric figure skating pair in a spiral move at the center. Beneath the figures, the event name, year, and location are denoted: “WM79 Wien.” A color palette of red, dark blue, and off-white is used effectively to create and maximize contrast. Two circles outline the 7/8″ diameter (2.2 cm) pin, creating motion and hinting at the patterns traced by a skate blade on the ice.

The 1979 pin reflects a design simplicity even as the sport was evolving and becoming more complex.

The 1979 Worlds may be most remembered for the win by Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner of the United States in the pairs event. Babilonia and Gardner won the world title in the absence of many-times world champions Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev, setting up the showdown for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid that was not meant to be. The pairs figure used on the 1979 Worlds pin could easily have been modeled after Babilonia and Gardner, showing the same style, extension, and mirror skating for which the American team was well-known.

Look for a series of pins from the 1967 World Figure Skating Championships to be featured in a future blog at The Netropolitan.

For now, enjoy A Study in Contrast. 1979.

1979 World Championships

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