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Thread: Ladies in the 80's vs. Today

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    Ladies in the 80's vs. Today

    23 years later, I finally saw the 1988 ladies figure skating competition on Universal Sports' Olympic reruns (Sunday they had Calgary, Saturday they had LA summer Olympics, etc. I guess they'll have Seoul today?) They showed the 3 medalists, although I didn't catch all of Katarina's, I did see Liz and Debi's skate (probably not in its entirety, but at least what they showed.)

    Anyway, the style of skating seems to have changed dramatically since then, and frankly, I liked it better then. The ladies were all graceful, but they weren't trying to be dainty ballerinas. They seemed to be skating faster than anyone today--and the music was fast! There was a slow part in the middle, but the beginning and ends of the programs were quite peppy. Also, there were a lot of split jumps--like every few seconds, it seemed, LOL. They weren't doing all the triples, but despite that, in a way it was more entertaining.

    My question: why has it changed? Has the increase in triples expected led to a decrease in speed and energy (perhaps because they have to "save themselves" and can't exhaust themselves skating fast or doing split jumps?) Are they not skating slower, but choosing very soft, slow, heavy music that makes them look like they are? And if so, why? Because that's the trend since Michelle's Angel skate of 1998 (she was the best at the graceful skate to the slow music, and I think started the trend.)

    I realize there are a few exceptions, like Yu-Na's 007 short program, and I know that people still skate to Carmen (boy, do they ever!) but it still seems like Debi's version was much different, than say, Mirai's.

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    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Part of the difference is the loss of the skills and strength obtained by skating figures. Having to control and generate power for figures led to better acceleration and edge control.

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    What a nifty thread! I will have to look back at those skates. I don't have the expertise to answer such a question, but I can't wait to see what everyone else says. I do suspect that mskater's point about the school figures and their benefits on edge control and acceleration is the central reason.

    See, this is why it's so wonderful to look back at the skaters who came before. When you look at something you haven't seen for awhile, stuff pops out at you and it gets you to thinking. Changes that may have been incremental through the years really become evident when you look at skates from two eras simultaneously.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poodlepal View Post
    23 years later, I finally saw the 1988 ladies figure skating competition on Universal Sports' Olympic reruns (Sunday they had Calgary, Saturday they had LA summer Olympics, etc. I guess they'll have Seoul today?) They showed the 3 medalists, although I didn't catch all of Katarina's, I did see Liz and Debi's skate (probably not in its entirety, but at least what they showed.)
    You probably want to watch some more of the performances from that year to get a wider sense of the field.

    I would recommend Midori Ito's freeskate from the Olympics -- she was third in that phase of the competition, and she did do all the triples up to lutz with jump content that would still be competitive today.

    Caryn Kadavy was one of the more polished artistic skaters of the era. She didn't get to skate her LP in Calgary because of illness, but check out her SP or other competitions from that year or the year before.

    Jill Trenary and Anna Kondrasheva were also strong on presentation at the time.

    And other skaters will give you a better feel for who else could sometimes place high on the strength of figures and/or jumps.

    Good points, mskater93 and Olympia.

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    My opinion is because they did less difficult jumps, they had more energy to devote to other aspects of the program.

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    At the rink. Again. mskater93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blue_idealist View Post
    My opinion is because they did less difficult jumps, they had more energy to devote to other aspects of the program.
    I suggest you go look at Ito and Yamaguchi before making that comment.

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    Witt- the queen of figure skating in the 80s. Almost unbeatable with only 1 loss in 5 years. Maybe the greatest competitor ever.

    Thomas- An excellent all around skater who had wonderful figures, great jumps, spins, and footwork, a bold and original style, and very good line, basic skating, and power. Sometimes the nerves got the best of her in big events but not at the 86 and 87 Worlds, but at the big events in 88 she really dropped the ball unfortunately.

    Manley- An extremely dynamic and potentially great skater with huge jumps, better spins than the other top women, fast footwork, and amazing speed, energy, and exuberance on ice. Had major problems with consistency and often figures.

    Kadavy- a beautiful artistic skater who would also do the difficult jumps. Problems with nerves and problems with never being the U.S #1.

    Trenary- the up and comer at the time, didnt really have a shot at the big titles until Thomas and Kadavy had retired.

    Ito- ahead of her time in jumps by probably half a century since even today there isnt one to match her jumping probably. Just an amazing free skater already, although didnt really start to develop any polish or style until 1988. Not a threat for medals yet due to figures.

    Kondrashova- a gorgeous artistic skater who never had the athletic ability, confidence, attack, or consistency to be a real top skater.

    Leistner- a good jumper with competent figures who utterly lacked in any style, excitement, or her own voice on the ice. Want that big a contender from 85-88 due to the depth of the other ladies.

    Ivanova- best compulsory figure skater of the 85-88 era. This kept her in medal contention always. Erratic and bland free skater, sometimes turned out something pretty good though which kept her in the medals. Career highlights were 84 Olympic bronze and 85 World silver where she narrowly missed upsetting Witt. Perennial runner up at Europeans.

    Chin- the shooting star of U.S skating in 84-85, began to be passed by by other Americans in 86, retired after missing the 87 World team. Huge talent but career suffered from crazy mom and a strange leg ailment. Contender for World title in 85 and 86, would have medalled at 84 Olympics for sure without figures.


    The main contenders for major titles during this time were Witt, Thomas, Manley (87-88), Chin (85-86), and Ivanova. The contenders for medals but not real threats to win a major title were Kadavy and Trenary.

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    Skating is art, if you let it be. Blades of Passion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poodlepal View Post
    They seemed to be skating faster than anyone today.
    I disagree that all of the Ladies back then skated faster. In fact, I can't think of a single person who skater faster than the best of the past couple decades, aside from Midori Ito.

    Debi Thomas was SLOW and she placed very well in figures. Figures were mostly useless. There are better ways to learn blade control that involve actual skating rather than just tracing small patterns on the ice.

    Where people did skate faster was in the footwork sections since there weren't ridiculous rules back then about needing to cram in a hundred turns and steps.
    Last edited by Blades of Passion; 01-04-2011 at 03:53 PM.

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    I also believe that each skater competed as individual vs. becoming cookie cutter versions of each other. in 80s, you had favorites of course, but you also had a greater appreciation for each skater because they were all so unique with different talents. I truly miss that.

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    Skating is art, if you let it be. Blades of Passion's Avatar
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    That's true. Too many forced rules these days.

    Quote Originally Posted by pangtongfan View Post
    Ito- ahead of her time in jumps by probably half a century since even today there isnt one to match her jumping probably. Just an amazing free skater already, although didnt really start to develop any polish or style until 1988.
    I don't agree with this at all. Have you not seen this performance?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ahr-qVj7_E

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    If there were no figures and Ito didnt have such huge problems with her nerves whenever she was favored to win (eg- once figures were removed and at the 1990 Worlds) Ito would be considered the greatest skater ever today probably.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blades of Passion View Post
    That's true. Too many forced rules these days.



    I don't agree with this at all. Have you not seen this performance?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ahr-qVj7_E
    My goodness, i have to pick up my chin from the floor watching that! 15 years old Midori and incredible already. Absolutely loved it!!

    Interesting to find that Yamaha actually commissioned the score just for her. The music just build and build like some sort of exhibition spectacle (which it was) and make it easy to over look any need for interpretation. She just had to concentrate on being Midori - what a gal! She is like a cute Tsunami! She could be a character from Sailor Moon with her incredible super powers!

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    Hmm. Well, if they're not actually skating faster--and I admit, you can't always tell on tv--they were using faster music and there didn't seem to be a competition to see who was the most dainty-delicate. Heck, the three medalists looked tough! I wouldn't want to mess with any one of them, LOL!

    If this competition were held today, the three of them would have identical buns, nobody would wear a unitard or a sexy dress, and they'd all be skating to soft elevator music, which apparently goes a long way for artistic impression these days (or whatever they call it now--program components?) Even those who supposedly skate fast (and again, as a tv viewer I can't always tell) like Carolina Kostner choose very sedate music and a balletic theme.

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    I dont understand her scores for this program:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mywCUQ2E9x0

    IMO she should have either won the short or atleast been 2nd to Witt. I cant believe Ivanova who has some weakish spins, a triple toe combo, and inferior artistry, and Kondrashova who has shaky jumps and spins was placed over her.

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    Actually, does anyone have tips on some fantastic programs from the 80s I can watch to catch myself up with skating before I started following it (late 90s)? Any suggestions would be much appreciated! I've seen most Olympics programs, but if there are any specific programs at certain competitions that all skating fans should watch... Thanks!

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