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Thread: Retrospective Look at 1991 Worlds

  1. #1
    SkateFan4Life
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    Retrospective Look at 1991 Worlds

    One of my all-time favorite World Figure Skating Championships was the 1991 Worlds, held in Munich. As a flag-waving American, I was thrilled to see the US women sweep the medals.
    GO, USA!

    THE WOMEN:
    My fondest memory is the American women's clean sweep of the medals, the first time that all of the World medals were won in the women's event from skaters from the same country. Kristi Yamaguchi rebounded from her second-place finish at Nationals (behind Tonya Harding) and skated two beautiful and powerful programs, and she convincingly won her first World title. The footage of her and coach Christy Ness viewing the gold-medal scores is priceless - tears, screaming, jumping up and down, etc.
    I think Ness was almost as excited and thrilled as Yamaguchi.

    Tonya Harding skated very strong programs as well. Her short was jazzy and featured some terrific spins and high jumps. She landed her triple axel in the long program; however, she then skated to the opposite end of the rink and skated a single/double toe instead of a triple toe/triple toe combination. Tonya regrouped and landed a strong triple flip, loop, and performed some great spins. Towards the end of her program, she doubled another planned triple, which left her with less completed triples than Kristi. While Tonya received good marks in the 5.7 and 5.8 range, they weren't good enough to challenge Kristi, who received mostly 5.8s and 5.9.s. Tonya's musical choices really showcased her talent -- "Batman", "Send in the Clowns", and "Wild Thing".

    Nancy Kerrigan was in fifth place after the short program. She skated a strong long program to "Born on the Fourth of July" and won the bronze medal. Nancy fell once, but otherwise, it was a nice program, and it had some very lovely, lyrical moments.

    The medal ceremony was memorable, with three American flags raised. The Desert Storm War had just concluded, and many of the newspapers of the day carried headlines proclaiming "It's a new world order in women's figure skating - America leads the way".

    Midori Ito came into the Worlds as the favorite, since this was the first time the competition was to be held without school figures, always the weakest part of her skating. During the warmup for her short program, Midori and Letitia Hubert of France collided, with both falling hard on the ice. Everybody in the rink gasped. While both skaters got up quickly, it was clear that Midori had taken the brunt of the collision, in her ribs, and with a blade that cut through her boot. She was taken to the trainer and returned to skate her short program.

    Then, while skating her short program, Midori apparently misjudged the distance from her triple lutz/double toe combination takeoff, as she jumped right out of the rink and landed on top of the television camera. She sprang up immediately and completed her program. The judges gave her very generous marks that left her in third place after the short program. When Midori took to center ice to bow to the audience, she smilled a little sheepishly, and knocked her fist several times against her temple.

    Unfortunately, Miidori's injuries kicked in, bigtime, the next day and she skated the long program in pain. It was hard to watch her performance - a single flip, a fall on a triple axel, and a double lutz with a two-footed landing. She managed to land a 3/3 toe combination towards the end of the program, but her marks kept her off the podium, in fourth place.

    Jill Trenary had missed the 1991 Nationals, as she had undergone surgery for an injured ankle. She was interviewed from her home in Colorado Springs. While she was gracious as always, it was obvious that she wanted to be at Worlds, competing with the rest of the field. On the other hand, her absence did not make the slightest dent in the success of the US women. They completely dominated the competition.

    THE MEN:
    Kurt Browning won his third consecutive World title with a strong program, with Viktor Petrenko taking second place again. Clearly, Viktor had thought his program was deserving of first place, as he looked very upset during the medal ceremony. While always a gentleman, Viktor's displeasure was evident. Todd Eldredge of the US won the bronze medal that year - his first of many World medals. He was then a19-year-old challenger who appeared to be well on the way to winning major titles. Todd said he was absolutely thrilled to have won the bronze.

    Paul Wylie of the US finished 11th at this championship. It was yet another unfortunate case of the nerves getting the better of this wonderful skater. Many people thought he should have retired after that disappointing finish, but he remained in the game and won the silver medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics. Bravo, Paul!

    ICE DANCE:
    Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay of France won the World ice dance title, to loud acclaim. Their "Missing" program was skated with precision and confidence. After they knew they had won the championship, Isabelle ran into the arms of her then-fiance and choregrapher, Christopher Dean.

    Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomorenko lost their title and had to settle for the silver medal. Their long program, skated to selections from "Lawrence of Arabia" was lovely. Frankly, I thought it was a lot better skated than the Duchesnay's program, and it featured terrific choregraphy, clean edges, and better overall skating.

    Mai Usova and Alexander Zhulin won the bronze medal.

    PAIRS:
    Natalia Mishkutenok and Artur Dmitriev of the USSR won their first World pairs title, with Canadians Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler winning another silver medal. Natasha Kuchiki and Todd Sand of the US won the bronze medal. This pair was quite unusual, in that Natasha was 14 years old and Todd was 27. Todd acted and looked like a protective older brother towards his partner.

    Another fantastic Worlds!!
    :D :D

  2. #2
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    Thank you so much for this recap! I have just made a request for a tape of this competition, along with the 91 Nationals and I can't wait to see it!

  3. #3
    Rooting for the Kerrs!
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    Re: Retrospective Look at 1991 Worlds

    Originally posted by SkateFan4Life
    THE MEN:
    Kurt Browning won his third consecutive World title with a strong program, with Viktor Petrenko taking second place again. Clearly, Viktor had thought his program was deserving of first place, as he looked very upset during the medal ceremony. While always a gentleman, Viktor's displeasure was evident.
    Viktor skated a very strong programme, and a very artistic one. One of the judges gave him a 6.0 for artistic impression too (I don't remember which one, but I don't think it was the Soviet judge. Can't remember though). The result was very close, and if I was judging I might have given it to Viktor actually. You can understand if he was upset at losing the gold so narrowly after such a performance, although it was great that he was sportsmanlike about it.

  4. #4
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    Kristi was incredible in Munich. She had such a deceptively simple style and blended everything together so well in "Samson and Delilah". I think this is the best performance of her amateur career. And to think the Australian judge gave her a 5.6/5.6! What in the world was he/she looking at? Seven triples (including that wonderful triple flip/hop/triple toe loop) with lovely artistry, I would have gone 5.9/5.9 at the least!
    Also, having only seen Tonya at the 94 Nationals, I was EXTREMELY impressed with her performances. She was brilliant. Her techincal program was powerful and precise and, in my opinion anyway, was quite pleasing presentation wise. Her freeskate was good, though not as powerful as the short, and the triple axel was a beauty. Too bad she went haywire after this and undertrained, incorporated sub-par choreography and chose to attack her teammates. She had the potential to be a skating legend and World Champion.

  5. #5
    SkateFan4Life
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    In my opinion, the American trio of Yamaguchi, Harding, and Kerrigan formed the strongest, most competitive, and best all-around team that the United States has ever sent to the World Championships. Each of these talented women possessed excellent technical skills - multiple strong, clean triples - great spins, choregraphy - and each was very attractive in her own special way.

    None of these women melted down, ala Nicole Bobek, or made major mistakes, ala Sasha Cohen, to prevent a sweep of the medals.

  6. #6
    SkateFan4Life
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    Thanks again for your nice comments, NanSinger2. It's my pleasure to share these memories. Hope you all enjoy them.

    SkateFan4Life


  7. #7
    Keeper of Michelle's Nose berthes ghost's Avatar
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    Yes, it was a very interesting worlds.

    Midori's troubles started even before worlds and the collision with Hubert. She was injured all season and had lost training time, so her jumps weren't rock solid. A dark cloud seemed to follow her the whole event, with one freakish accident after another, plus the nerves due to being the overhelming favorite for gold. Poor Midori.

    I didn't find Tonya's LP that interesting, especialy compared to Kristi's, Nancy's or Midori's. Even Surya's scary version of Swan Lake had at least a cohesive theme. Tonya's 3 pieces were like pizza, peanut butter and pickles. All good in thier own right, but never all together. What did one have to do with the other? The whole thing looked like a fun exhibition program, and no match for Kristi's sophisticated S&D routine, IMHO. Still, it was nice to see her at her height.

    Tonya's SP was fantastic. If only she could have kept that level of conhesion, or tension in the LP choreography. I also think she was unfortunate to skate early, but 2nd wasn't so bad.

    Other than the run into, or over the boards in this case, Midori's SP was great, and considering what the other ladies laid down (both Nancy and Surya had easier tech content and inferior basic skills) I don't think her marks were too high.

    Kudos to Surya on the close-but-no-cigar 4 toe! But she should have taken the prize for worst costume. I don't know what famous French designer came up with that nightmare, but e-gads.

    I thought that the Kurt and Viktor race was close. Kurt's jump content was interesting, but thematically I thought that the LP was weak. Did he ever have a 3Lutz? Still, he did a great job.

    What I found intersting was all of the quad attempts: at least 3 of the final 5, and that was in 91! I thought that Bowman should have perhaps placed higher than Barna, but all of the guys were close. Todd was clean, so kudos there, although I'm still wistfull for the dream of Todd skating to something other than a blockbuster movie soundtrack.

  8. #8
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Did he ever have a 3Lutz?
    yup 1992 Olympic LP... he nailed it... even though Scott sounded like he expected him to fall on it... it was Kurt's worst jump... (then again if you watched the Olympics just about EVERY jump sucked :()

  9. #9
    Go NJ Devils
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    Re: Retrospective Look at 1991 Worlds

    Originally posted by SkateFan4Life


    ICE DANCE:
    Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay of France won the World ice dance title, to loud acclaim. Their "Missing" program was skated with precision and confidence. ...

    Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomorenko lost their title and had to settle for the silver medal. Their long program, skated to selections from "Lawrence of Arabia" was lovely. Frankly, I thought it was a lot better skated than the Duchesnay's program, and it featured terrific choregraphy, clean edges, and better overall skating.

    Mai Usova and Alexander Zhulin won the bronze medal.

    The Duchesnays performed "Missing II" in 1991, after jettisoning a controversial free dance called "Reflections" that received a frozen response from the judges and audience at the 1991 European Championships.

    I agree that Klimova/Ponomorenko's technical and artistic performance to Lawrence of Arabia was superior to the Duchesnay's performance. Missing II was put together hastily between the European Championships and Worlds, and to me, the D's execution of the program reflected this: I thought that the D's looked sloppy, and that much of the (melo)drama was in the looks of desperation on ID's face. (One of my pet peeves is when the drama is on the face, not expressed through the body.) I would have put Usova/Zhulin in second place. I thought they were very close to K/P, but I had to watch that tape many times before I could appreciate their free dance fully.

  10. #10
    SkateFan4Life
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    I remember the Dushesnay's "Reflections" long program that was scrapped between the 1991 Europeans and 1991 Worlds. Paul and Isabelle wore matching costumes - dark blue shirts and pants and they performed a number of shadow moves. I thought that program was very creative, interesting, and yes, somewhat controversial, as Isabelle was not presented as the "woman" in that number. It's too bad that the Dushesnays received negative feedback for "Reflections", but that's the way the system works at times.

    Their "Missing" number was certainly a good one, but it wasn't skated cleanly. In my opinion, Paul was always the better skater of the two, with the more difficult transitional moves and steps. Isabelle skated rather clunkily, and it always seemed to me that she was constantly fighting to keep up with her brother.

    That being said, the 1991 Worlds were fantastic!! :D

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