Sometimes bad skating happens to good people...
I've been watching 94 Olympics over again, and I was fascinated by the non-American commentary. I was watching I think Debbie Wilkes and Brian Orser or the BBC commentators and it's amazing how differently skaters are perceived by non-Americans.
1. When Baiul went out to skate her SP, Debbie Wilkes said she was pretty much the star of the event.... lol. Don't tell NBC that!!!! I understand Baiul's win a lot more. Her SP won her the entire event. It was light years ahead of anything else in the ladies' event. A weak LP wasn't going to stop her. I was in the ABN camp (anyone but Nancy) but I raised my eyebrows when Baiul beat her. But outside of the US Baiul was just seen as the one to beat. Kerrigan needed to step up and be heads and shoulders above Baiul. Unfortunately she couldn't due to her awful Mary Scotvold programs.
2. The men's event was just such a mess. The LP was the epitome of bad judging. If you are not in the final group, you won't get the marks. How Viktor Petrenko did not win this LP is beyond me. How Urmanov and Stojko could be placed ahead is crazy.
3. Dance? Well, I found it the height of hyprocrisy that judges felt they HAD to deduct T/D for an illegal lift, but let Grischuk and her partner have several time separations with no deductions. I remember at the time a judge said something to the effect is "If I'm being entertained why would I hold a stopwatch?". Again, bad judging. I was Team T/D
4. Pairs. Yikes. Scottie's blatantly biased commentary and Katia kiss-up attitude was so obvious. He could barely say something nice about M/D and even then it came across as uncomplimentary or tepid at best. Calling Mishkutenok a "big girl"???? Yeah, she's not 90 pounds like Gordeeva. Oh well, a judge said it correctly when she told Artur "You should have won, but you just didn't skate well all week".
I remember watching VHS tapes of these games over and over with my grandmother, wonderful memories...
Ladies: Looking back 20 years later with all emotion taken out of the moment Nancy may have been robbed, but i remember that at the time Oksana seems to have an aura around her and really brought the house down that night. She had the emotion and charm while Nancy seems robotic and somewhat fake. In the 6.0 system that was what mattered and how her 5.7/5.9 beat Nancy's 5.8/5.8. I was team Oksana then and still am, I also was a card carrying member of the "ABN camp" referenced above but over time my opinion of Nancy has softened a little.
Dance: It sort of mirrored the results of the ladies event later when young, emotional and energetic seemed to beat out the more refinded, guarded and reserved. If i remember correctly T/D did not really do well and were likely overscored in the compulsory dances, I think they did great in their OD but I just didn't like their Free dance - it seemed old, stuffy and tad fake to me. G/P did very well in the compulsories, I didn't like their OD as much but I loved their FD which seemed young, fast and fresh to me. I agree with the results and became a G/P fan (going in I was actually hoping U/Z would win). To this day I have never found another dance team as interesting.
Pairs: Much like dance where everyone seemed to want a T/D comeback win, it seemed everyone was head over heels for a G/G win. I liked both G/G and M/D. I thought both skated well but I thought the criticism of Mishkutenok's weight was harsh. I really don't have a problem with the outcome but had I been a judge, M/D (my all time favorite pair - so of course I'm biased) would have won!
Men: I wanted Petrenko to win going in, but its really been to long since I watched this for me to comment one way or another, I just don't remember enough details about the performances of the key players so I let others debate the validity of the results.
In a way Lillehammer pairs ruined pairs skating for me. Never has an event been this spectacular. You have the summit of the dramatic Russian style of M&D versus the purity of G&G's skating. The only pairs that have excited me have been B&S and S&Z. Although S&S and V&T are impressive, I could never like them as much as I liked M&D, B&S, and S&Z. 1994 ruined pair skating for me! It was the gold standard.
I loved Baiul's skating. I still do. But as an adult, I see the 1994 ladies' event differently. I think Nancy deserved the OGM and Baiul possibly shouldn't even have gotten silver based on her flaws. But yes, music emanates from her soul like no other. It was a shame that as years went by she either bombed frequently or show skating and posing killed any substance she was capable of. She is so unique in that her movements were so natural and unaffected.
Soon after 1994 we got Michelle, another skater who brought transcendent beauty to the ice, seemingly where Baiul left off, but in a completely different style and competitive mastery.
I would love to have experienced Lillehammer as many skaters and coaches praise Lillehammer was the best Olympics ever - great venue, organization, local friendliness, and great skating.