20 December 1929|
|Died||20 March 1997(aged 67)|
|Former partner||Grazia Barcellona|
Fassi was born in Milan.
As a competitor, he won the European Championships in 1953 and 1954, and also won the bronze medal at the World Championships in 1953. He was the Italian men's champion for 10 years.
Fassi took up coaching after the end of his competitive career. From 1956 to 1961, he coached at the Olympic Stadium in Cortina, Italy, and for four years served as the trainer for the Italian World Team. One of his first students was a young German skater, Christa von Kuczkowski, who became his wife and mother to his three children: Riccardo, Monika, and Lorenzo.
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, then for a time in Denver, Colorado before returning to the Broadmoor in the early 1980s, and finally, following a brief return to Italy, at the Ice Castle rink in Lake Arrowhead, California.
His students included World and Olympic Champions Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, John Curry, Robin Cousins, and Jill Trenary. 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.
Besides 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.
He was inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame by the Professional Skaters Association in 2002.
1980 Olympics controversy
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 Poetzsch in the ladies' event. The allegations became so well known that the story has subsequently been repeated as if it were fact. On the other hand, Sonia Bianchetti, referee of the men's competition at those Olympics, has denied that the judging of either event was incorrect, and pointed out that only two of the nine judges on the ladies' panel were from Eastern-block countries—while five other judges also gave their first-place votes to Poetzsch. 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.
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.
- "Pro News", Skating magazine, May 1961
- Professional Skaters Association http://www.skatepsa.com/Hall-Of-Fame-P.htm
- Christine Brennan, Edge of Glory, ISBN 0-684-84128-2
- Kwan's Coach Hoping to Gild a Career Filled With Heartbreak
- Fratianne hopes to see more changes
- Jon Jackson, On Edge, ISBN 1-56025-953-1
- Fratianne-Poetzsch: Clearing the Record
- "100 Years of Ladies Skating, Part II", Blades on Ice, December 2006
- Benjamin T. Wright, Skating in America, published by the United States Figure Skating Association
- CTV broadcast of the ladies free skate
- Skate America Preview 2.htm The First Skate America, Part 2