Carlo Fassi (20 December 1929 – 20 March 1997) was an Italian figure skater and international coach whose students included several World and Olympic champions. As a single skater, he was the 1953 World bronze medalist, a two-time European champion (1953, 1954), and a ten-time Italian national champion (1945–54).

Carlo Fassi
Personal information
Country represented Italy
Born(1929-12-20)20 December 1929
Milan, Italy
Died20 March 1997(1997-03-20) (aged 67)
Lausanne, Switzerland
Former partnerGrazia Barcellona
Medal record
Representing  Italy
Figure skating: Men's singles
World Championships
Bronze medal – third place 1953 Davos Men's singles
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 1954 Bolzano Men's singles
Gold medal – first place 1953 Dortmund Men's singles
Silver medal – second place 1952 Vienna Men's singles
Bronze medal – third place 1951 Zürich Men's singles
Bronze medal – third place 1950 Oslo Men's singles

Personal lifeEdit

Fassi was born in Milan, the son of a builder.[1] He spoke five languages.[2] He married Christa Fassi (von Kuczkowski) in 1960.[2] They had three children: Ricardo, Monika, and Lorenzo.[3][4]

Competitive careerEdit

Fassi competed in two disciplines at the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, placing 15th in men's singles and 13th in pair skating with partner Grazia Barcellona. Appearing only in men's singles, he finished sixth at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway.

Fassi won gold at the European Championships in 1953 and 1954, and the bronze medal at the World Championships in 1953. He was the Italian national men's champion for ten years.[5]

Coaching careerEdit

Declining to join the Ice Capades, Fassi took up coaching after the end of his competitive career.[1] From 1956 to 1961, he coached at the Olympic Stadium in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, and for four years served as the trainer for the Italian World team.[5] One of his first students was German skater Christa von Kuczkowski.[6][7]

Following the 1961 plane crash that killed the entire U.S. figure skating team and many of the top American coaches, Fassi moved with his family to the United States, where he soon became established as a top international coach. He was based first at the famous Broadmoor Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado,[5] then for a time in Denver, Colorado before returning to the Broadmoor in the early 1980s. He spent three years in Italy in the early 1990s and then returned to the U.S. to coach at the Ice Castle rink in Lake Arrowhead, California.[1][4]

His students included World and Olympic champions Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, John Curry, Robin Cousins, and Jill Trenary.[2][8] He also coached Scott Hamilton and Paul Wylie in the early stages of their careers. Skaters from all over the world came to train with Fassi, giving his training camp a strongly cosmopolitan and international atmosphere.

In addition to being an excellent technical coach, Fassi had the reputation of being a master of political dealings in the figure skating world, with the ability to bring his students to the attention of the judges. He was such an icon in the sport that when the comic character Snoopy adopted an alter ego as a figure skating coach (appearing, for example, in the 1980 TV special She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown), it was clearly modelled upon Fassi.

Fassi died of a heart attack at the 1997 World Championships in Lausanne, which he was attending as the coach of Nicole Bobek and Cornel Gheorghe.[2][7][8] He was inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame by the Professional Skaters Association in 2002.[9]

1980 Olympics controversyEdit

After Fassi's death, U.S. skater Linda Fratianne and her coach Frank Carroll alleged that Fassi had conspired to "rob" Fratianne of the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics by masterminding a deal with Eastern-bloc judges to swap votes for his own pupil Robin Cousins in the men's event with those for the East German champion Anett Pötzsch in the ladies' event.[10][11][12] The allegations became so well known that the story has subsequently been repeated as if it were fact.[13][14]

Sonia Bianchetti, referee of the men's competition at those Olympics, has denied that the judging of either event was incorrect, and noted that only two of the nine judges on the ladies' panel were from Eastern-bloc countries[15]—while five other judges also gave their first-place votes to Pötzsch.[16] Benjamin Wright, the American referee of the ladies' event, instead blamed the method of tabulating scores that was in effect at that time for Fratianne's defeat.[17]

Fassi had five students of his own competing in the ladies' event in Lake Placid: Emi Watanabe of Japan, Susanna Driano of Italy, Claudia Kristofics-Binder of Austria, Kristiina Wegelius of Finland, and Karena Richardson of Great Britain.[18][19]


Men's singlesEdit

Event 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
Winter Olympics 15th 6th
World Champ. 8th 6th 6th 3rd
European Champ. 4th 3rd 3rd 2nd 1st 1st
Italian Champ. 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st

Pairs with BarcellonaEdit

Event 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
Winter Olympics 13th
European Champ. 9th
Italian Champ. 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st


  1. ^ a b c Glauber, Bill (21 March 1997). "Fassi, coach to stars, dies after heart attack Mentor of Fleming, Hamill was at worlds with Bobek". The Baltimore Sun.
  2. ^ a b c d Hersh, Philip (30 March 1997). "Fond Goodbye To Master Coach Of Figure Skating". Chicago Tribune.
  3. ^ Longman, Jere (21 March 1997). "Carlo Fassi, Skating Coach, Is Dead at 67". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Hersh, Philip (21 March 1997). "Renowned Skating Coach Fassi, 67, Dies". Chicago Tribune.
  5. ^ a b c Pro News, Skating magazine, May 1961
  6. ^ "Carlo Fassi" (in German). March 1984.
  7. ^ a b Bird, Dennis (26 March 1997). "Obituary: Carlo Fassi".
  8. ^ a b "Coach Of Legends Dies; Heart Attack Fells Carlo Fassi, Mentor To Fleming And Hamill". Daily News Wire Services. The Philadelphia Inquirer. 21 March 1997.
  9. ^ Professional Skaters Association "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2013-04-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Brennan, Christine. Edge of Glory. ISBN 0-684-84128-2.
  11. ^ "Kwan's Coach Hoping to Gild a Career Filled With Heartbreak". The New York Times. 18 February 1998.
  12. ^ "Fratianne hopes to see more changes". ESPN.
  13. ^ Brennan, Christine (13 November 2009). "Lake Placid figure skating". USA Today.
  14. ^ Jackson, Jon. On Edge. ISBN 1-56025-953-1.
  15. ^ Fratianne-Poetzsch: Clearing the Record
  16. ^ "100 Years of Ladies Skating, Part II", Blades on Ice, December 2006
  17. ^ Benjamin T. Wright, Skating in America, published by the United States Figure Skating Association
  18. ^ "Die Damen-Wahl". Der Spiegel (in German). 10 December 1979.
  19. ^ Skate America Preview 2.htm The First Skate America, Part 2[permanent dead link]