Brilliant Competitive Programs
There have been numerous outstanding, memorable, top-notch competitive programs that our favorite skaters have delivered over the years, much to our delight. A few of these, in my view, are:
1996 US Nationals - Rudy Galindo's glorious long program that won him the title. Rudy's triple axel/triple toe and triple lutz/triple
toe combinations were the class of the field, as was his superb line, edge, flow, and choregraphy. His spins were gorgeous - a layback spin, a "shotgun" spin, spread eagles, extensions, etc.
Dick Button practically gushed throughout the program, and even he was impressed at Rudy's skating. To skate so well in your home town, before your friends, fans, and neighbors was such a thrill, and it was made even more sweet because so many folks had written Rudy off as a lost cause, as far as a singles skater is concerned. While Rudy and Kristi Yamaguchi won two US pairs titles, he floundered as a singles skater after Yamaguchi broke up their partnership in 1990. Rudy was close to calling it quits, but decided to compete for one more year. And what a performance at the Nationals! The crowd was going crazy, as was Rudy's sister/coach. When they sat in the kiss 'n cry area, the crowd screamed and chanted, "Six! Six! Six!". And, indeed, Rudy did receive several 6.0s for presentation. What a triumph!!! What wonderful interpretation of "Swan Lake"!! :D
1996 US Nationals - Michelle Kwan's long program, skated to "Salome", was a breakthrough routine for her, as it marked the dawn of her emergence as a beautiful artist as well as a gifted technical skater. Michelle's blossoming into a lovely young woman, and her interpretive skill was amazing. She soared through her jumps, she played the role of "Salome" to the max, and she left no doubt in anyone's minds that she was going to become the next US champion. She skated the same great routine at the Worlds and won her first World title. A fantastic skate for an extraordinary then-15-year-old!!! :D
1988 Winter Olympics - Elizabeth Manley's terrific long program, skated to lively selections including "Canadian Concerto". She soared through her five clean, right-on-the-money triple jumps, including a triple lutz, and she won the long program. Liz should have won the gold medal with that skate, in my opinion, but the combined scores of school figures, short and long programs left her in second place. The crowd went crazy, and celebrated her wonderful long program and excellent placement. Liz was another skater who had so much talent but who had never quite managed to put it all together until 1988 - and what a moment to put it all together!! I get goosebumps whenever I watch a reply of Elizabeth's long program. You go, girl!! :D
Brilliant Competitive Programs
The "Battle of the Brians" at the 1988 Winter Olympics was, in my opinion, one of the finest competitions ever in the history of men's Olympic figure skating. Brian Boitano skated the long program of his life, with two clean triple axels, one in combination,
his towering 'Tano Lutz, a neat triple flip/triple toe combination, a huge death drop spin, and a spread eagle on a harrowing outside edge. What a moment to skate the best competitive program of your life!! It won Brian the gold medal, fairly and squarely. That year Boitano emerged with greatly improved artistic skills to enhance his already solid technical skills. He was a complete skater, and it showed with that performance.
Brian Orser also skated a fantastic long program and won the silver medal. Brian's program had two minor flaws - a stumble on a triple flip and a triple axel that was reduced to a double axel. Artistically, it was excellent, but not quite up to the technical standard of Boitano, and as the technical mark was the tiebreaker
in those days, Boitano won the gold medal.
Boitano and Orser were shining examples of class, talent, and good sportsmanship. I'm sure Orser was devastated at losing the gold medal by such a narrow margin, but he graciously congratulated Boitano on the podium. And for his part, Boitano was a gracious winner - no showboating or patting himself on the back.
Thanks for the memories, Brians!!
Brilliant Competitive Programs
Yet another brilliant competitive program -- 1989 Worlds - Midori Ito's long program. Midori Ito became the first woman to land a triple axel at Worlds, and it was a bravado performance. Bold and brilliant, all the way. Triple lutz, axel, flip, triple toe/triple toe,
loop, etc. Midori had made noticeable strides on her presentation skills, and she skated with a lot of expression and personality to go masterfully with her powerful jumping.
Midori received five 6.0s for technical merit. I remember that the crowd in Paris screamed an cheered when the marks were announced. She received all 5.8s and 5.9s for presentation, and she won the gold medal convincingly. When Midori left the rink after her performance, she was crying tears of happiness.
What a lovely moment!! :D
Another brilliant long program - 1962 Worlds, Prague. Don Jackson of Canada won the World title with a powerful, stunning long program that included the first-ever triple lutz. His come from behind victory was breathtaking, as he was far behind Karol Divin of Czechoslovakia after the school figures, and he needed a perfect program to win the gold medal. And that's exactly what he skated. I've seen replays of most of the long program, and it was filled with double and single jumps which Don seemed to execute out of the clear blue sky - no "telegraphing" - just great,
easy preparation and jump, jump, jump! Don's final scratch spin was a blur.
When the marks were announced, Dick Button and Jim McKay of ABC's Wide World of Sports went beserk - "Six! Six! Six! another Six!" Don received the highest number of 6.0s then awarded at any World Championships. He modestly said, "I'm happy to have won this for Canada."
Another classy guy, great sportsman, and fantastic skater!!
1987 Worlds: Ladies Event
Lulu's skates at 1996 Worlds left a permanent imprint in my mind. I thought her program was the essense of lyrical skating.
She's not my favorite skater, but Tonya Harding's LP at 1991 U.S. Nationals was awesome. She landed 7 triple jumps, including a 3axel (becoming the first American woman to do so) and a 3toe/3toe combo. Her performance was very reminicent of the one Midori gave at 1989 Worlds.
One of the best competitions I have seen was the LPs from Debi Thomas and Katarina Witt at 1987 Worlds in Cincinnati. This was a MUCH better competition than Calgary when both skaters gave subpar performances. Their skates at '87 Worlds was what generated a lot of the "Battle of the Carmens" hype.
Thomas was suffering from severe tendinitis, so badly that she had to apply ice shavings to her ankles before she skated. Skating to music from Duke Ellington, she went out there and brought down the house. The commentators said that it was the best they had ever seen her skate. When she won 1986 Worlds, Debi was technically strong but seemed a bit off to the music at times. In '87, the overall quality of her skate was dramatically improved. However, Debi had one mistake in her program -- a two-foot landing on her 3loop. The audience might not have noticed it, but the judges surely did.
Katarina was next, skating to "West Side Story." She had been struggling with the 3loop and had fallen on it in the warmup right in front of the judges. However, in the free skate she nailed the jump, again right front of the judges. Kat is not my favorite skater, but she may have been the finest COMPETITOR this sport has ever seen. She skated perfectly, landing 5 triples (very impressive at the time) and won '87 Worlds. I still think this was by far and away Katarina's finest skate as an amateur.
While these may not be brilliant programs, I feel the following were brilliant performances.
98 US Nats. MK's SP and LP. They were both skated with unfettered joy.
96 Worlds. MK and LuLu's LP's. Both deserved to be world champion that year.
96 Us Nat's. Rudy's SP & LP. So unexpected and deserved. A turning point for Rudy's life. The 1st time that a man performed both an SP and LP that impressed me in a single competition.
2003. MK's Nats and World's. The fire and tension in her body impressed me. You could really see the stretch throughout her entire body.
Chen Lu - 1996 Worlds: LOL, I can't resist, everytime one of these threads pops up I have to gush about Lu's "Rach". I was so deeply moved by that performance at the time and my admiration for it has only grown since then. Chen Lu had always been one of my favorites and had some great programs ("The Last Emperor" and "Claire Delune" were wonderful) but with "Rach" she elevated her skating to an extraordinary level I never dreamed of. Every gesture of the hand, every expression, all the moves...it was all perfectly placed and performed with such geniune emotion. Chen Lu owns that music in my mind and I could never imagine anyone ever coming close to reproducing the magic and perfection of that interpretation.
Shen & Zhou - 2003 Worlds: Yet another performance that moved me to tears and only gains more of my respect each time I watch it. The music and the choreography fit them so well. The technical elements were flawless and a cut above the rest of the field as always, but for the first time I felt they owned that ice surface in all aspects. They could have done only what was expected and improved their presentation just enough to contend for gold...but that night in Washington they showed that just enough wasn't enough for them, they wanted to be the best in every respect and were.
Michelle Kwan - 2003 Nationals: Old. Held up. Boring. Slow. Burnt out. No need for gushing or explanations on this one! She was sold down the river by most but came roaring back yet again to show just why it is she has owned that title for six consecutive years. LOL...I love it!
Paul Wylie - 1992 Olympics: The finest artist in men's skating that I can recall since I began watching in the early 90s. This program highlighted perfectly all of his strong points and I was beyond thrilled for him. It wasn't technically perfect but I don't think anyone in Albertville came anywhere close to matching its artistic merit. You rarely see such honest passion in a performance (especially an Olympic one) and it will always be one of my favorites.
Others that were exceptional include: Rudy Galindo (96 Nationals & Worlds), Michelle Kwan (EOE, 01 Nationals), Kristi Yamaguchi (91 Worlds)...and so many others!
I have watched MK's National's program from 2003 several times. I don't usually do that, but that one really touched me.
Shen and Zhou's freeskate at 2003 Worlds and Michelle's 2003 Nats are about the only one's I can think of without looking at my tapes (again).
Eville Eastern Bloc Poster
Whole lot of performances, but too lazy to comment, just watch your tapes ...
- Brian Boitano / Napoleon / Olympics 1988 Calgary
- Viktor Petrenko / Carmen / Worlds 1991 Munich
- Ilia Kulik / Rhapsody in blue / Olympics 1998 Nagano
- Kurt Browning / That's entertainment! / Worlds Pros (?) 19?? in ??
- Jeff Buttle / The last emperor / Worlds 2002 Nagano
- Evgeny Plushenko / St. Petersburg 2003 / Euros 2003 Malmö
- Alexei Yagudin / Lawrence of Arabia / Worlds 1999 Helsinki
- Alexei Yagudin / Gladiator / Skate Canada 2000 Missisauga
- Alexei Yagudin / Etude of revolution / Worlds 2001 Vancouver
- Alexei Yagudin / Man in the iron mask / Olympics 2002 SLC
- Lu Chen / Rachmaninov / Worlds 1996 Edmonton
- Lu Chen / Springbreeze / Worlds 1996 Edmonton
- Lu Chen / The last emperor / Worlds 1995 Birmingham (?)
- Oksana Baiul / Song of the black swan / Olympics 1994 Lillehammer
- Katarina Witt / Sagt mir wo die Blumen sind / German Nationals 1993 in ??
- Mishkotionok/Dmitriev / Liebestraum / Worlds Munich 1991
- Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze / Charlie Chaplin / Worlds Vancouver 2001
- Shen/Zhao / Turandot / Worlds 2003 Washington
- Torvill/Dean / Bolero / Olympics 1984 Sarajevo
- Klimova/Ponomarenko / Toccata/Air / Olympics 1992 Albertville
Last edited by Germanice; 08-01-2003 at 01:21 AM.
Here are mine, without comments.
Michelle- 2003 & 1998 US nationals LP's, 2001 worlds LP, 2001 GWD SP (EOE), 98 Oly SP (Rachmaninoff)
Oksana Baiul- The swan Ex at 94 Oly, 94 Oly SP
Chen Lu- 1996 worlds LP
Midori Ito- 1989 & 1990 worlds LP's
Irina- 2000 GPF LP2 (Don Q)
Caryn Kadavy- Celine Dion number (pro)
Kristi Yamaguchi- Chopin (world pro 92) and Madama Butterfly (pro 94)
Naomi Nari Nam- 1999 USN LP
Sasha Cohen- 1999 USN SP
Angela Nikodinov- 2001 USN LP
Boitano- 88 Oly LP
Orser - 88 worlds LP
Ilia Kulik- 98 Oly LP
Yagudin- 2002 Oly SP & LP
Plushenko- GPF 2003 LP2
Wylie- 92 Oly LP
Browning - 93 worlds LP (Casablanca)
John Curry- 76 Oly LP (Don Q)
Petrenko- 1991 worlds LP
Klimova-Ponomarenko 92 Oly FD (Bach) &Tchaikovsky's 5th (pro)
Usova-Zhulin 92 Oly FD and Mozart Ex in 94
Torville-Dean 84 Oly Bolero
Grishchuk-Platov 97 & 98 Euro FD's (Arabian and Memorial respectively)
Krylova-Ovssianikov Ave Maria (Pro 2003), Masquerade Waltz (1997 worlds FD)
Dushenays-' Missing' 90 & 91 FD
Berezhnaya-Sikharulidze 2002 Oly SP (Lady Caliph),1998 Euro SP (Swan Lake), 1998 GPF LP (Dark Eyes), COR 2001 LP (Citylights)
G&G- 1988 Oly and 89 worlds LP, Vocalise (pro)
M&D-92 Oly & 94 Oly LP's (Lieberstraum and Rachmaninoff respectively)
Bechke & Petrov- Romance (97 world pro artistic) and Sviridov Romance (2000 world pro artistic), You don't bring me flowers (pro)
Shishkova-Naumov Ave Maria SP (95/96 worlds?)