This was inspired by all the archive-checking I was doing for the "Parallel Podiums" post, which led me to recall some of the past Worlds I have seen over the years (all the way back to Vienna '79, man, do I feel old!).
I've seen some great Worlds and some not-so-great Worlds over the years, as I'm sure we all have. What would be your favorites and least favorites and why?
Mine are as follows, by discipline:
FAVORITE: Helsinki '99. Absolutely outstanding quality of skating from just about everyone they showed on TV (the top 12, basically); Timothy Goebel, in his 1st Worlds, was even pulling well-deserved 5.5s for 12th place!! Yagudin came into his own and became the fantastic skater we know today, Plushenko made his presence known by finishing 2nd (despite the fact he was still in his jump jump jump no presentation whatsoever stage; he's come a long way); Weiss was still putting out great programs; Elvis came out of his slump; Honda was terrific; Guo Zhengxhin was spectacular, and Urmanov wasn't bad either.
LEAST FAVORITE: Geneva '86. Boitano was clean and steady, and that's about all that was needed to come out on top of this splatfest. Orser and Sabovcik both went down, and Fadajev was downright horrible. (And still drew 5.9s from the Soviet judge, later suspended -- and, incidentally, still judging today)
FAVORITE: Cincinnati '87. Kwan vs. Chen in '96 was spectacular, but for overall quality of skating, IMO this was the best I've ever seen. Debi Thomas put on her best long program in over a year and Witt responded with one of her best; one of my all-time favorites, Caryn Kadavy, won the bronze with a beautiful performance to the terrific "Concierto de Aranjuez"; Elizabeth Manley showed the world what was yet to come in 4th place, Jill Trenary made a very solid Worlds debut, and a little lady named Midori Ito made a big impression from 11th place to finish 8th. Even Claudia Leistner and Kira Ivanova, never known as being skaters to exactly excite anyone, skated very nice performances. Ivanova especially showed a lot of improvement in her presentation.
LEAST FAVORITE: Copenhagen '82. By a MILE. Yes, Elaine Zayak won the gold from 7th place. A lesser-known fact is that Katarina Witt won the silver from 10th place. Obviously, in order for this type of thing to happen, especially back in those days, there had to be A LOT of disasters taking place among the 6 to 9 ladies above them, and believe me, there were. The free skate MUST have set some sort of record for most falls; Kristina Wegelius, the leader going into the freeskate, didn't land one single thing and most of the rest of the field wasn't much better. Witt, despite her silver medal showing, 2-footed most of her jumps (but did stay on her feet) and that was good enough to move up as much as she did.
FAVORITE: Vancouver '01. In retrospect, I would have to say that Bereznaja & Sikharulidze probably should have won this. But I give the nod to this final since I was actually there in the arena when Sale & Pelletier won and the energy in that building when it was confirmed that they had won was one of the most incredible feelings I've ever experienced; I too was bawling my head off while they played "O Canada" for the winners. Despite some great stuff the rest of the week, nothing else even came close to that experience for me, not even Kwan winning #4. Plus, many experts consider the overall quality of Pairs skating at this Worlds to be some of the best ever. I would not disagree.
LEAST FAVORITE: Lausanne '97. This was the Worlds where Bereznaja & Sikharulidze were in 3rd after the SP and had an absolutely hideous meltdown to finish 9th. Beyond that, the overall quality of skating was just mediocre. Woetzel & Steuer and Eltsova & Bushkov were just dull; Kazakova & Dmitriev were only a little better, Meno & Sand were a bit of a mess. Ina & Dungjien were actually quite good and IMO should have been on the podium, considering what they were skating against.
FAVORITE: Helsinki '83. This was the Worlds where I truly discovered Ice Dancing. And what did it was Torvill & Dean's "Barnum", which was one of the most incredible things I'd ever seen at that point. They really displayed the possibilities of great ice dancing with this one. (I was never a fan of "Mack and Mabel") And Blumberg & Seibert, who at that point were the only dance team I liked, won the first of their 3 World Bronzes.
LEAST FAVORITE: Prague '93. I don't blame the skaters or the judging for this one; this one was so bad IMO due to a huge list of new free dance regulations the ISU had imposed the previous summer, to rein in any potential Duchesnay-type dances. The couples were seemingly not allowed to do ANYTHING even remotely interesting; every dance was like a really boring set pattern, and some of them were downright cheesy and/or tacky. '95 wasn't much better (I missed '94), but at least in '95 Shae-Lynn & Victor had arrived to liven things up.
FAVORITE: Vancouver '01. If it's the only one I've attended in person, naturally that's gonna get the nod! Especially if it's in one of the most beautiful and fun cities in the world!
LEAST FAVORITE: Oakland '92. This was actually almost the first one I went to in person; I was glad I saved my money. Weird results, subpar skating, and the standard post-Olympic ennui.... :(