Ice Network

Fifty years later, Joseph siblings find redemption

Former pairs team officially recognized as 1964 Olympic bronze medalists
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
After five decades of waiting in limbo, Vivian Joseph and Ronald Joseph can proudly call themselves Olympic bronze medalists. -U.S. Figure Skating

For decades, when Vivian Joseph and Ronald Joseph would talk about their pairs skating success, they would say the highlight of their career was winning a silver medal at the world figure skating championships in 1965.

Never mind that they had Olympic bronze medals in their homes.

"I [didn't] say anything to people about the [Olympic] medal because it is so confusing," Vivian Joseph once said.

Today, their placement in Olympic history is much clearer. U.S. Figure Skating has received confirmation that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has formally corrected the medal standings from the 1964 Olympic Winter Games. The IOC has updated the results on the official site for the Olympic Games.

"I am ecstatic," Vivian Joseph said. "I am sorry it wasn't done sooner, but I am happy it is finally done."

The medal correction now gives the United States 48 total Olympic figure skating medals, the most medals won by a single nation in the Winter Games.

The Josephs' long, winding road began a little more than 50 years ago, when they skated to a fourth-place finish in the 1964 Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria. Two years later, however, the (IOC) stripped the West Germans of their silver medal because they had signed a contract with Holiday on Ice prior to competing in the then all-amateur Olympics.

The Josephs were elevated to bronze medalists and a team from Canada (Debbi Wilkes and Guy Revell) became the silver medalists. The IOC sent both the Americans and the Canadians upgraded medals, but the record books had never reflected the change. Further complicating matters, in 1987, in a low-key IOC executive meeting, the West Germans were deemed "rehabilitated" and were awarded replica silver medals. Officials from Canada and the United States were not notified of the decision, nor were the Josephs.

And all the while, even though the Josephs had their bronze medals hanging on the walls of their homes, to the outside world, they remained fourth-place finishers. It was confusing to them and to those around them, and they didn't believe they would ever be recognized for their rightful place in Olympic history.

"After more than two decades of confusion, we are pleased to see Vivian and Ronald Joseph as the rightful Olympic bronze medalists," said David Raith, the executive director for U.S. Figure Skating in a statement released Tuesday. "We respect the way the Josephs have handled this issue, knowing that this confusion has caused them much heartache and frustration."

Vivian and Ronald Joseph are expected to attend the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, where they will award the senior pairs teams with their medals.

The issue concerning the records from the 1964 Olympic Winter Games came to light when The New York Times began inquiring about the results during the run-up to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, which marked the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Winter Games.

"I never thought this would happen," said Ronald Joseph, now a hand surgeon in Florida. "It's truly amazing."

One regret both Vivian and Ronald Joseph have about the matter is that their coach, Peter Dunfield, who lobbied the IOC to look into the professional contract signed by the West Germans, did not live to see this day come. Dunfield died in May at 82.