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The perfect partner

French figure skater Pierre Brunet made his name with his partner and wife Andrée Joly. Together they reigned supreme in pairs figure skating in the 1920s and 1930s, winning two Olympic titles and inventing several new moves that helped take their sport to a new level.

Innovator on ice

Pierre Emile Ernest Brunet was born in Le Quesne, France on 28 June 1902, a little over ten months after Andrée Marguerite Blanche Joly came into the world in Paris. They first met at the national figure skating championships in Paris in 1923, with the duo dominating their respective individual competitions to become French champions. Brunet then suggested to Andrée that they compete together in pair events, and a few months later, in January 1924, they appeared at the inaugural Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix. The innovative couple impressed the judges with previously unseen elements and walked off with the bronze medal, as Austria’s Helene Engelman and Alfred Berger won gold and the Finns Ludovika and Walter Jakobsson took silver.

A decade at the top

Pierre and Andrée became the best and most famous figure-skating pair in the world. Pioneers in their event, they took the sport to a new level, inventing, among other things, mirror skating, the one-hand lift and several new spins. Together they won the world title four times in a row between 1926 and 1932. In the meantime they produced a brilliant performance to win Olympic gold at St Moritz in 1928 and retained their title four years later at Lake Placid, competing by this time as Brunet and Brunet, having married in 1929.

Coaching in the USA

The Brunets turned professional in 1936 and set off on a tour of Europe and North America before deciding to take up permanent residence in the USA, where they worked as coaches in New York, Illinois and then Michigan. Together they trained a number of champion skaters, among them the Americans Carol Heiss, who won Olympic gold in 1960, Dorothy Hamill, who did likewise in 1976, and Scott Hamilton, the men’s champion at Sarajevo 1984. They also coached 1962 world champion Donald Jackson of Canada, the first skater to perform a triple lutz.

Pierre died in July 1991 at the age of 89 in Boyne City, Michigan, while Andrée passed away in March 1993 in the same town, aged 91. The pair were among the first 20 skaters inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame when it was founded in 1976.



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