I viewed my two videotapes of the 1990 World Figure Skating Championships, which were held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My overall impression was - "What a great competition!!"
This was the last Worlds that included the compulsory school figures. The figures counted for 20 percent of the overall score, with the short program counting for 30 percent, and the long program counting for 50 percent of the total score. The ISU had been reducing the value of the school figures during the 1980s, and while 20 percent doesn't seem like a large part of the overall score, it was the decisive factor in the women's competition.
Defending World Champion Midori Ito of Japan skated horrible school figures and wound up tenth in that phase of the competition. A clip of Midori tracing one of her figure eights shows her practically falling over on her side, and the tracing was rough and uneven, to say the least. For that particular figure, Midori received placements of tenth, all the way down to 24th!
In contrast, US Champion Jill Trenary skating crisp, clean school figures and won that phase of the competition.
The short program was another story. Ito skated like a firecracker and won the short program, while Trenary was tentative and watered down her planned triple toe/double toe combination to a double toe/double toe combination. She finished fifth in that phase of the competition. Heading into the long program, Ito was fourth and Trenary was third.
Still, because of Ito's disastrous compulsory school placement, she could only win the gold medal if she won the long program and Natalia Lebedeva, Holly Cook, and Trenary finished no higher than third. That is, Ito had to win the long program, and someone other than the top three had to finish in second place.
Scott Hamilton and Verne Lundquist, reporting, said they thought that, perhaps, Kristi Yamaguchi might be the one to slip in behind Ito and help her retain her title.
Alas for Midori, Yamaguchi fell twice in her long program and received respectable, but not high, scores. Trenary skated a very strong long program with four clean triple jumps and finished second behind Ito in that segment of the competition. Jill received 5.7s and 5.8s for technical scores and a waft of 5.9s for presentation. Midori received all 5.9s and 6.0s for technical and 5.7s and 5.8s for presentation. Midori's triple axel was absolutely gorgeous!
The bottom line -- had Ito finished ninth in the school figures, instead of tenth, and everything else occurred as it had -- she would have won the gold medal instead of the silver medal.
Holly Cook, the 1990 US bronze medalist, shocked everyone by winning the bronze medal in her first (and as it happened, her only) appearance at Worlds.
She was ecstatic, to put it mildly.
I got a kick out watching Jill and her father embrace after she knew she had won the title. Mr. Trenary hugged his daughter and exclaimed, "Not bad for a fat kid." Pat O'Brien, commentating, asked Jill for her reaction at becoming the new World champion, and Jill said, "I don't feel anything yet. It hasn't sunk in."
O'Brien immediately asked Jill if she would turn professional, since the school figures would no longer be part of the competition. Jill graciously said she would
take some time off after the COI tour to think about her future.
The men's competition featured Canadian Kurt Browning successfully defending his World title, to the delight of his countrymen. The bio on Kurt (one of the few UCAP bios I have really liked over the years) showed Kurt's transformation from a second-tier world-class figure skater to the World champion and a hero in his home country. However, the pressure seemed to drain on Kurt, as he stumbled in his fall competitions and won not gold, but silver and bronze. He said, to paraphrase, that he suddenly felt that he could no longer fall, even in practice, as the World champ "doesn't make mistakes". While he was the slight favorite going into the Worlds, Soviet Victor Petrenko and American Christopher Bowman were also given good shots at the World title, so it was pretty much a three-man race.
That race become a two-man race, with Browning and Petrenko battling for the title. I was really pleased to see Kurt skate a great long program and win, and I got a chuckle out of seeing him being engulfed in throngs of screaming teenage girls.
Christopher Bowman and his then-coach, Frank Carroll, were not exactly getting along well together, and a sort of "cat and mouse" piece portrayed their disharmony. Apparently, Bowman's free spirits finally became too much for his coach to handle, and Carroll left Bowman alone on the ice during his school figures competition. They were shown arguing and just not communicating well together.
And, Katia Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, quite frankly, were given inflated scores in their long program, skated to beautiful "Romeo and Juliet" music. Katia fell on their side-by-side double axels which were to have led to a jump sequence. She just stopped skating, and Sergi continued with the pattern. They looked stunned when they finished, and so was the crowd. Canadians Brasseur and Eisler skated a dynamic long program and won the silver medal. Frankly, I think they deserved the gold medal, but that's just my own opinion.
Kristi Yamaguchi and Rudi Galindo, the two-time US pairs champions, finished fifth in the pairs competition. She finished fourth in the ladie's singles. Following
the Worlds, Kristi decided to concentrate solely on the singles, and she dropped
out of pairs skating. As it happened, it was a tremendous decision for her, as she won the 1991 and 1992 World titles and the 1992 Olympic gold medal.