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Thread: Elaine Zayak's 1994 Comeback

  1. #1
    SkateFan4Life
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    Elaine Zayak's 1994 Comeback

    The 1994 US Nationals will forever be known for the Nancy Kerrigan knee bashing and the subsequent criminal prosecution of Tonya Harding and her cohorts. However, there was another major story in the ladie's competition that was pretty much overlooked, with all the Nancy/Tonya saga.

    Elaine Zayak made a tremendous (!!!!) comeback to eligible competition, with a strong fourth-place finish. Not bad for a 28-year-old who had left figure skating and who did not really know if she would be able to make a decent comeback.

    In retrospect, Zayak had a stellar eligible career, with the 1981 US title, the 1982 World title, the 1981 World silver medal, the 1984 World bronze medal, and bronze medals at the 1982 and 1984 US Nationals. Elaine represented the US at the 1984 Winter Olympics. Elaine suffered a stress fracture prior to the 1983 Worlds, so she was unable to defend her title.

    Elaine's strength was her strong arsenal of triple toes and triple salchows. In an era when the top women skated, at most, three or four triples, Elaine landed six or seven. The ISU was fearful that ladies skating would turn into little more than a "jumping bean" contest, and they institute a role that became known as the "Zayak Rule", whereby a skater could repeat a triple jump only once in the long program, and if so, it had to be a combination jump.

    Elaine turned professional after the 1984 Worlds and skated with Ice Capades for several seasons. I had the pleasure of attending an Ice Capades performance in 1986 and enjoyed her performances. They were well skated, full of jumps and pizzaz.

    Unfortunately for Elaine, touring as a pro became very difficult, and she stopped skating. During the winter of 1993, however, the competitive juices started to stir, and she turned to her former coach, Peter Burrows, for assistance. As Elaine said at the time, her comeback was a "month by month" situation. She honestly did not know whether or not she would be able to return to competitive shape. Boy, did she ever!

    Elaine skated two strong, powerful programs at the 1994 US Nationals. Her jumps were done well, and she showed greatly improved artistry. The audience went crazy and gave her two long, standing ovations. Her coaches jumped up and down in ecstasy. Elaine was almost in tears, she was so overjoyed. She told the press that she did not want to take a spot on the Olympic team away from anyone - she just wanted to skate her best.

    Bravo, Elaine. You, go girl!

  2. #2
    On the Ice
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFan4Life
    The 1994 US Nationals will forever be known for the Nancy Kerrigan knee bashing and the subsequent criminal prosecution of Tonya Harding and her cohorts. However, there was another major story in the ladie's competition that was pretty much overlooked, with all the Nancy/Tonya saga.

    Elaine Zayak made a tremendous (!!!!) comeback to eligible competition, with a strong fourth-place finish. Not bad for a 28-year-old who had left figure skating and who did not really know if she would be able to make a decent comeback.

    In retrospect, Zayak had a stellar eligible career, with the 1981 US title, the 1982 World title, the 1981 World silver medal, the 1984 World bronze medal, and bronze medals at the 1982 and 1984 US Nationals. Elaine represented the US at the 1984 Winter Olympics. Elaine suffered a stress fracture prior to the 1983 Worlds, so she was unable to defend her title.

    Elaine's strength was her strong arsenal of triple toes and triple salchows. In an era when the top women skated, at most, three or four triples, Elaine landed six or seven. The ISU was fearful that ladies skating would turn into little more than a "jumping bean" contest, and they institute a role that became known as the "Zayak Rule", whereby a skater could repeat a triple jump only once in the long program, and if so, it had to be a combination jump.

    Elaine turned professional after the 1984 Worlds and skated with Ice Capades for several seasons. I had the pleasure of attending an Ice Capades performance in 1986 and enjoyed her performances. They were well skated, full of jumps and pizzaz.

    Unfortunately for Elaine, touring as a pro became very difficult, and she stopped skating. During the winter of 1993, however, the competitive juices started to stir, and she turned to her former coach, Peter Burrows, for assistance. As Elaine said at the time, her comeback was a "month by month" situation. She honestly did not know whether or not she would be able to return to competitive shape. Boy, did she ever!

    Elaine skated two strong, powerful programs at the 1994 US Nationals. Her jumps were done well, and she showed greatly improved artistry. The audience went crazy and gave her two long, standing ovations. Her coaches jumped up and down in ecstasy. Elaine was almost in tears, she was so overjoyed. She told the press that she did not want to take a spot on the Olympic team away from anyone - she just wanted to skate her best.

    Bravo, Elaine. You, go girl!
    What a first class lady she is. I always loved her and her skating..Nice to hear GOOD Vibs about her. Thanks for the post!!! I think the first I time saw or at least remember Nicole Bobek was a time right after Elaine skated and Nicole was getting on the ice and she hi-fived Elaine, I thought "what a nice jesture that was" Nicole was so young and so cute. I think it was the same year that Elaine made her come back..

  3. #3
    Tripping on the Podium
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    Quote Originally Posted by nuggetr
    What a first class lady she is. I always loved her and her skating..Nice to hear GOOD Vibs about her. Thanks for the post!!! I think the first I time saw or at least remember Nicole Bobek was a time right after Elaine skated and Nicole was getting on the ice and she hi-fived Elaine, I thought "what a nice jesture that was" Nicole was so young and so cute. I think it was the same year that Elaine made her come back..
    Actually, Nicole hugged her, but yeah cool moment One of my fave skating memories--Elaine rocked that comp!

  4. #4
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    I remember that competition. I was actually rooting for her to make the Olympic team. Her skating was mature, beautiful, and it was no longer 'just jumps'. I loved her skate to Reverie very much.

  5. #5
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    I only saw these programs recently via Rinkside and I have to say I was absolutely blown away. Her triple loop was to die for! Christine Brennan writes about it in Inside Edge but makes the glaring error of stating that Elaine did a triple loop in '94 which ironically was a jump she could not do in her amateur days or something like that - WRONG! Elaine had triple loop in 1980!!!

  6. #6
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    What always amazed me was that Elaine started skating as therapy for a serious injury. She lost a large part of one foot as a child. She had a special orthopedic skate made. You couldn't tell it from her skating. I've never been able to understand how she managed figures.

  7. #7
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    I remember that the commentators said that even though Elaine was known as a jumper, by 1994 she felt that there was too much emphasis placed on jumping.

  8. #8
    SkateFan4Life
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    Quote Originally Posted by nuggetr
    What a first class lady she is. I always loved her and her skating..Nice to hear GOOD Vibs about her. Thanks for the post!!! I think the first I time saw or at least remember Nicole Bobek was a time right after Elaine skated and Nicole was getting on the ice and she hi-fived Elaine, I thought "what a nice jesture that was" Nicole was so young and so cute. I think it was the same year that Elaine made her come back..
    My pleasure for posting this on Elaine Zayak. I always admired her tenacity, and I always enjoyed watching her skate. At the 1994 US Nationals, Elaine skated her long program right before 16-year-old Nicole Bobek. When Elaine left the ice, Nicole, who was warming up, skated over to her and hugged her. It was a lovely moment. The commentator at the time said, "This is so special!"
    And, indeed, it was special.

  9. #9
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    I was in the stands for that skate. Elaine had a great week. She was so happy to be there and she was newly engaged and showing off her ring to friends and acquaintances. It was a great skate. We all enjoyed it. There was surely a lot going on that night.

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