Brunet and Joly open France’s gold medal account
The pair skating competition at St Moritz 1928 took place on the morning of the final day of the Games, along with the last two ice hockey matches. Thirteen pairs representing ten nations took part, among them France’s Andrée Joly and Pierre Brunet, who first teamed up a few months before Chamonix 1924, where they won bronze.
The duo worked tirelessly over the next four years, honing their technique and inventing a host of new jumps, lifts and spins. The pioneers of the one-handed lift, the “angel leap”, and mirror skating, they won their first world title in Berlin in 1926, beating the Austrian pair Lilly Scholz and Otto Kaiser, whom they would face again in St Moritz two years later with an Olympic title at stake.
It turned out to be a superb duel, with the French skating flawlessly and showcasing their telepathic understanding and technical skills. Their Austrian opponents were no less impressive, though five of the judges chose to place Joly and Brunet first, two second and one fourth, with Scholz and Kaiser being ranked first by only two judges, second by six and third by one, giving the French a narrow win and a place in the history books as their country’s first Olympic Winter Games champions.