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Thread: Disastrous Competitive Programs

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    Disastrous Competitive Programs

    The ice is a slippery surface – a statement of fact for all skaters. Some of the greatest skaters of all time have had some memorable “whoops” competitive performances throughout the years. Here’s a few that come to mind:

    1994 Winter Olympics:

    Kurt Browning, the four-time World Champion, was heavily favored to win the Olympic gold medal that had eluded him at Albertville. Kurt came into Lillehamer well-trained and injury-free, and he had two superb programs to lay out to the judges. Alas –Kurt blew his short program, bigtime, with a fall on the triple flip and a single axel instead of a double axel. His technical scores were in the 4’s – absolutely unheard of for a skater was wonderful as Browning – and the marks left him buried him in 12th place heading into the long program. Kurt skated his classy “Casablanca” freeskate and finished fifth overall. Still – no Olympic medal for Kurt, much less the gold medal.

    At those same Olympics, Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic champion, returned for what he hoped for was another trip to the podium. Indeed, he "tripped", but not the way he wanted to. Boitano fell out of his triple axel/double toe combination in the short program, and his marks left him with virtually no chance for a medal. His long program was solid, but again, he missed his triple axel/double toe combination, and he finished out of the medals.

    1989 US Nationals:

    Natalie and Wayne Seybold, the brother-and-sister pairs team from Marion, Ohio, who had represented the US at the 1988 Winter Olympics and had finished 10th, came into the 1989 US Nationals as the favorites to win their first title. They led after the short program, but disaster struck in the long program. Natalie fell from a throw triple salchow, he singled their side-by-side double axels, and Natalie then caught her toepick in the “other” skate as she was rotating in the air from her throw triple loop and crashed on the ice. The lace came loose, and they went over to the judges to ask for a reskate. The judges ruled that they had stopped by their own volition, not by an injury or equipment problem, and the Seybolds were instructed to pick up their program where they left off. It was hardly the opportunity they wanted to redeem themselves, but they managed to complete their program. Their scores were generous, I thought, considering the errors they committed, and they finished second behind first-time pairs champions Kristi Yamaguchi and Rudi Galindo. After the competition, the Seybolds said they thought they deserved to win the competition on the basis of their record of having represented the US in two Worlds and the last Olympic Games. And I naively thought that the judges were supposed to judge the performance and not the previous record!

    1993 US Nationals:

    Tonya Harding showed up about 25 pounds overweight. She fell several times in her long program, but managed to finished fourth overall. The change was astounding – going from the superbly trained athlete who had become the first American woman to land a triple axel to an under trained, overweight skater who couldn’t buy a triple jump. Egads.

    1989 Worlds:

    Alexandr Fadeyev was in first place going into the long program, and seemed to be a cinch to make the podium. Alas, he singled his opening triple axel, fell out of his triple lutz, and missed two other triples. This long program had won him the 1989 European title, and it was a wonderfully choreographed routine, but it completely fell apart in Paris. Alexandr finished fourth, out of the medals.

    These are just a few unfortunate performances that come to mind. Believe me, I winched as I witnessed these routines. All of these skaters were and are so talented, that to see them make these mistakes was shocking, to put it mildly.

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    I like pie. Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Kurt's SP was DISAPPOINTING, but not disasterous. True he was out of medal contention, but it wasn't the horrible sight his 92 SP and LP were... he still put energy and sold the program. While I cry everytime it's over it's still one of my favorite programs. The footwork is killer... even after the flip he still kept it together... it wasn't till the flub on the Axel that his body language suggested his frustration... "I guess the Olympics just aren't my thing..." :(

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle
    Kurt's SP was DISAPPOINTING, but not disasterous. True he was out of medal contention, but it wasn't the horrible sight his 92 SP and LP were... he still put energy and sold the program. While I cry everytime it's over it's still one of my favorite programs. The footwork is killer... even after the flip he still kept it together... it wasn't till the flub on the Axel that his body language suggested his frustration... "I guess the Olympics just aren't my thing..." :(
    IMO two major mistakes on jumps in mens SP IS a disastrous performance. Those are the highest deductions. In fact it seemed like after the triple flip fall, Kurt was not really into it and that is why he singled the double axel. How many times do you see a top level male skater unable to do a double axel?

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    1993 World Championships - Nancy Kerrigan led after the short program. She drew the 5th skating position. She went up for her first jump - triple flip - and put her hand down. From there, it went downhill. She popped the lutz, then fell out of the triple salchow. She ended up 9th in the long and 5th overall. Josee Chouinard, who skated after her, stood in 4th and now had a chance to win. Unfortunately, she didn't fair any better after she fell on her opening triple flip. She ended up 10th in the long and 8th or 9th overall.

    1997 World Championships - Lu Chen had not competed all season, but went to Worlds to keep a spot for China for the Olympics the following year. She barely survived the qualifying round, but didn't fare as well in the short. Skating to 'Take Five', she popped the opening lutz which was supposed to be her combination. She then added a double toe to the triple toe to make a combination. Unfortunately, on the 7th element - the double axel - she singled it. She ended up in 25th place, missed the cut for the long program and lost the spot for the Olympics. Ironically, the skater who was 24th - Susan Humphreys of Canada - withdrew. However, there was no provision to add the next skater. Lu had to compete at an event (Golden Spin of Zagreb?) where the top 6 finishing countries who did not automatically earn spot for the Olympics would win a spot. Lu won the competition and we know the rest of the story.

    1988 Olympics - Debi Thomas was the last skater. Katarina skated a nice program and Elizabeth Manley skated the performance of her life and was actually 1st in the long at this point. Both Debi and Katarina had chosen Carmen - they even had the same opening piece. Debi wanted this performance to be her best ever. She was the only skater in the final group attempting a triple-triple combination. She had landed a nice one in the warm-up. However, she looked a bit tentative as she took to her starting position. She went up for the first triple toe - it was nice. Then she went up for the second triple toe - but two-footed the landing. After that, it was as if Debi gave up. She fell out of the triple salchow and the triple loop. She ended up 4th in the free skate and 3rd overall with the bronze medal.

    1992 Olympics - Laetitia Hubert was the last skater. She was skating last in her home country. She wasn't going to win, but had admitted to the press that she didn't know how she would control her nerves. She doubled the first jump (loop), then proceeded to fall on her triple lutz, have a wonky landing on her triple flip, fall on the back end of her triple-triple combination, and fall on another triple toe (part of a jump sequence) at the end of her program. She even fell doing some crossovers at the start of her slow section. She ended up going from 5th to 12th.

    Herm (sk8ngnutt)

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    Kurt Browning was skating a short program at Ultimate Four (96 or 97?). Roz said that it was only one week old and that he hadn't skated it from start to finish once. Even as the music started there was a problem because there were vocals and Roz said that he would be deducted for that. Kurt then missed his opening triple axel combination. After completing a triple toe and a few other elements, it seemed like he was counting with his fingers and Roz thought that he was counting the number of elements that he had completed up to that point. He then singled a double axel and at the very end, he was about to go into a spin but then just stopped and didn't finish his program. At first Roz thought he might be injured but after Kurt bowed he said, "I forgot." Roz complained that if you get lost, you keep going and make it up and that's what it means to be a professional. Then Kurt skated up to Roz and told her that he just couldn't remember what the last element was and didn't want to get deducted for doing the wrong one. She held her head in her hand and looked completely embarrassed for him. His scores were 3.5, 2.5, 3.5, 4.2, and 3.5 for required elements.

    By the way, what happened to Chen Lu in 1997 that she didn't compete all season?

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    Keeper of Michelle's Nose berthes ghost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gipson
    By the way, what happened to Chen Lu in 1997 that she didn't compete all season?
    I'm interested to know too. I have fuzzy memories of her skating in a white costume in GP events, doing very poorly and not medaling and not making the GPF. Was it all a dream?

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    I don't remember seeing the GPF ( I think it was called Champion series or something like that at the time) but I remember one of the commentators mentioning a nagging ankle injury that probably didn't heal properly.

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    Evgeny Plushenko, 2004 Europeans LP.
    Always the heavy favourite, he had struggled with a knee injury all season, and had speculation over whether he would even compete. After a determined performance in the short, he was in first place. Going out for the long, he started very well with his clean 4-3-2. Then disaster struck - he set up for the triple axel, but opened up almost immediately and was all over the place in the air, completing a single and crashing onto the ice. Brian Joubert's coach, watching, jumped out of his seat, and the audible gasp in the stadium showed how shocked everyone was by the mistake. An incident that would fray anybody's nerves, Plushenko showed strong conviction and determination throughout his performance, not letting up until the end, despite things going wrong for him. He singled his next axel too, prompting the commentator to say "What is going on?!". At his next attempt, he succedded in landing a clean 3axel-3toe-2loop (IIRC), but then went for the 3flip almost immediately and failed, putting his hand and other foot down. He also doubled another jump (the salchow, I think), and almost lost his final spin (although he managed to regain his balance and complete it). Despite the mistakes, he also landed a second 3axel, a 3lutz and 3loop (I think), and had two combination spins with difficult positions and some great footwork. It was a performance that could be attributed to injury, or any number of psychological factors, but it showed that he is human. And it showed his great strength of mind that he could not only push through to the end rather than giving up, but he also managed to get in there several elements of very high difficulty and quality despite the fact that his head much have been all over the place.

  9. #9
    I like pie. Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gipson
    Kurt Browning was skating a short program at Ultimate Four (96 or 97?). Roz said that it was only one week old and that he hadn't skated it from start to finish once. Even as the music started there was a problem because there were vocals and Roz said that he would be deducted for that. Kurt then missed his opening triple axel combination. After completing a triple toe and a few other elements, it seemed like he was counting with his fingers and Roz thought that he was counting the number of elements that he had completed up to that point. He then singled a double axel and at the very end, he was about to go into a spin but then just stopped and didn't finish his program. At first Roz thought he might be injured but after Kurt bowed he said, "I forgot." Roz complained that if you get lost, you keep going and make it up and that's what it means to be a professional. Then Kurt skated up to Roz and told her that he just couldn't remember what the last element was and didn't want to get deducted for doing the wrong one. She held her head in her hand and looked completely embarrassed for him. His scores were 3.5, 2.5, 3.5, 4.2, and 3.5 for required elements.
    He's had a few of those over the years


    IMO two major mistakes on jumps in mens SP IS a disastrous performance. Those are the highest deductions. In fact it seemed like after the triple flip fall, Kurt was not really into it and that is why he singled the double axel. How many times do you see a top level male skater unable to do a double axel?
    But compared to his 92 performances it was a step up.

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    1997 Nationals:Michelle's Taj Mahal- Had a mental breakdown and totally fell apart.

    99-00 season: Skate America-I don't know if this was Sarah's first big ISU competition but complete melt down. Zoom to 2 years later and she does it again at Worlds qualifying round.

    Won't even go into Sasha's record.

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    2002 Worlds. Maria Butyrskaya was among the first to skate in QR. Her coaches Tchaikovskaya and Kotin got stuck in traffic and weren't there. She bombed badly, withdrew from cometition, and announced her retirement from competitve skating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gipson
    Kurt Browning was skating a short program at Ultimate Four (96 or 97?). Roz said that it was only one week old and that he hadn't skated it from start to finish once. Even as the music started there was a problem because there were vocals and Roz said that he would be deducted for that. Kurt then missed his opening triple axel combination. After completing a triple toe and a few other elements, it seemed like he was counting with his fingers and Roz thought that he was counting the number of elements that he had completed up to that point. He then singled a double axel and at the very end, he was about to go into a spin but then just stopped and didn't finish his program. At first Roz thought he might be injured but after Kurt bowed he said, "I forgot." Roz complained that if you get lost, you keep going and make it up and that's what it means to be a professional. Then Kurt skated up to Roz and told her that he just couldn't remember what the last element was and didn't want to get deducted for doing the wrong one. She held her head in her hand and looked completely embarrassed for him. His scores were 3.5, 2.5, 3.5, 4.2, and 3.5 for required elements.

    By the way, what happened to Chen Lu in 1997 that she didn't compete all season?
    He had a 2.5 from one judge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nysk8r
    I don't remember seeing the GPF ( I think it was called Champion series or something like that at the time) but I remember one of the commentators mentioning a nagging ankle injury that probably didn't heal properly.
    That, and her and Mingzhu Li stopped getting along. The Chinese federation also didn't like the fact that she spent so much time in the west.

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    Quote Originally Posted by icenut84
    Evgeny Plushenko, 2004 Europeans LP.
    Always the heavy favourite, he had struggled with a knee injury all season, and had speculation over whether he would even compete. After a determined performance in the short, he was in first place. Going out for the long, he started very well with his clean 4-3-2. Then disaster struck - he set up for the triple axel, but opened up almost immediately and was all over the place in the air, completing a single and crashing onto the ice. Brian Joubert's coach, watching, jumped out of his seat, and the audible gasp in the stadium showed how shocked everyone was by the mistake. An incident that would fray anybody's nerves, Plushenko showed strong conviction and determination throughout his performance, not letting up until the end, despite things going wrong for him. He singled his next axel too, prompting the commentator to say "What is going on?!". At his next attempt, he succedded in landing a clean 3axel-3toe-2loop (IIRC), but then went for the 3flip almost immediately and failed, putting his hand and other foot down. He also doubled another jump (the salchow, I think), and almost lost his final spin (although he managed to regain his balance and complete it). Despite the mistakes, he also landed a second 3axel, a 3lutz and 3loop (I think), and had two combination spins with difficult positions and some great footwork. It was a performance that could be attributed to injury, or any number of psychological factors, but it showed that he is human. And it showed his great strength of mind that he could not only push through to the end rather than giving up, but he also managed to get in there several elements of very high difficulty and quality despite the fact that his head much have been all over the place.
    I forget what year it was, but it was the splatfest world championships. He had a chance to win, after the other contenders splatted. He ended up in 4th, I believe. He was skating to Russian folk music, in this red outfit.

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    1988 Olympics - Debi Thomas was the last skater. Katarina skated a nice program and Elizabeth Manley skated the performance of her life and was actually 1st in the long at this point. Both Debi and Katarina had chosen Carmen - they even had the same opening piece. Debi wanted this performance to be her best ever. She was the only skater in the final group attempting a triple-triple combination. She had landed a nice one in the warm-up. However, she looked a bit tentative as she took to her starting position. She went up for the first triple toe - it was nice. Then she went up for the second triple toe - but two-footed the landing. After that, it was as if Debi gave up. She fell out of the triple salchow and the triple loop. She ended up 4th in the free skate and 3rd overall with the bronze medal.
    Sure it wasn't the performance she wanted and yeah, she could have certainly skated better. But I'm not sure how much I would consider a 4th place result with a Bronze Medal overall as "disasterous"

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