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Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean back in Sarajevo after 30 years

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 12:45 pm

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — It was the first, and so far only, perfect score in Olympic skating history. And when Britain's Torvill and Dean were through with their legendary Bolero routine at the Sarajevo Olympics the sport was changed forever.

Three decades after their gold medal-winning performance of Ravel's haunting masterpiece in 1984, Jayne Torvill, 54, and Christopher Dean, 55, are returning to the ice Thursday, dancing the same routine at the same rink.

With the Olympics underway in Sochi, the pair said they were honored to be invited back to skate in an arena they consider "hallowed ground."

"We are so honored and humbled to be invited back to Sarajevo and come back to the place where our lives changed," said Dean.

On Valentine's Day 30 years ago, the two became the first dancing pair ever to receive a perfect 6 from all judges in a skating competition.

The sports hall, Zetra, was destroyed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war that took 100,000 lives. It was rebuilt in 1999 and the skaters are here helping to promote the Youth Olympics that Sarajevo will host in 2017. The city invited the skaters to mark Olympic anniversary and help raise funds for a permanent ice rink in preparation of the Youth games.

Sarajevo was besieged throughout the war by Bosnian Serb forces who shelled and sniped daily, killing over 11,000 people in the city. The enemies divided the country into a Serb part and another shared by Bosniaks and Croats. The border runs through the former Olympic village, now a Sarajevo suburb.

Administratively, there are two Sarajevos. Torvill and Dean's goodwill performance is playing a symbolic role in healing divisions: The official invitation is signed by the city's two mayors and stamped with their emblems, a rare show of cooperation.

The Olympic site looks very different decades — and one calamitous war — later. The stadium has been repaired but it's surrounded by tombstones of the war dead.

Torvill and Dean said they watched the tragedy on TV and wondered what had happened to the wonderful people they had met in Sarajevo.

"Today we had a very emotional moment," Dean said, choking with emotion. Regaining his composure, he explained how the duo had just met the girl who picked up flowers from the ice before the two went going out to skate.

"To personally hear her story from the 6-year-old girl who picked the flowers up and the subsequent life afterward and then today being here with her daughter, a generation that had gone through some difficult tragic times and yet now they are so hopeful and joyful ... that really brought it home for us today," he said.

Torvill said she often wondered whether the little girl they had met at the Olympics was still skating.

When they met the girl — now a proud mom — they were in for an emotional surprise: Her daughter was among the young skaters performing in Thursday's gala event.