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Thread: Flashback to the 1980 Winter Olympics

  1. #16
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    The 1980 Olympics were before my time but I have always gotten the impression they were perhaps one of the darkest for American Skating with the Fratianne scandal and Tai and Randy's heartache.

  2. #17
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    I remember the 1980 Olympics, but not nearly as well as all of you do.

    We lived in VT then, and debated whether to get tickets, but the logistics of getting to the site appeared too daunting. Also, you had to buy tickets to events you didn't want to attend, like pentathalon, to get skating tickets. ANd there weren't that many skating tickets to begin with because the Lake Placid rink is quite small. We decided to watch it on our very inadequate television.

    Scott Hamilton gave the kids in Stowe skating pointers and got a nice article in the Burlington free press.

    I seem to recall that at another event, a commentator said that Linda Fratianne had strong jumps but pointed her heels instead of her toes. I was watching for this phenomenon, and I thought she did.

    Denise Biellman was amazing, and I thought she looked like a little Christmas ornament doing her famous spin.

    I also was not impressed with Dagmar Lurz.

    My biggest memories from that Olympics would be from the US hockey team's gold medal.

    I accepted the judging very uncritically back then.

  3. #18
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    1980 Olympics

    I remember watching these Olympics on ABC's Wide World of Sports as a teenager. I have recollections of chunks of the skating, and impressions. I didn't have VCR capabilities until the 1990's, or cable either, until the later 1990's. I would love to acquire video or dvd of these games!

    In the Ladies, I remember Biellman being the best free skater and Fratiane seeming cautious, but very good. Poetsch was my sandwich break skater, and was very dull. I remember Dagmar Lurz as the girl who broke her pelvis in an auto accident years before, to return to skating. Her jumps had no speed, no height and no distance. I remember her landing a triple salcow and just marveling that she made it. I thought the results were a rip off for the good free skaters.

    In the Men's event, I remember Robin Cousins fell in the SP on his straight line step. I recall his speed and line and his being a big, grand skater. I remember hoping Charlie Tickner wouldn't have a melt down and was happy he got the bronze medal. Jan Hoffman was not an appealing free skater. Santee was very good and a surprising 4th. I remember Scott as little and fast.

    In Pairs, I recall a lot of the Tai and Randy warm-up and withdrawl. Rodnina and Zaitsev were strong and fast and solid. I recall the East Germans as kind of bland, and I recall the mis-matched "one-and-a-half" team and her twist lift. She did resemble a girl skating with her father who threw her around like a doll. I don't recall the US Pairs very much.

    In Dance, nothing really impressed me, so I'd love to see it again.

  4. #19
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    A group of us attended a Sunday afternoon performance of Ice Capades, the day after Linda Fratianne finished second in women's figure skating. Several in the group lamented that she was robbed of the gold medal, that the judges were all pro-Soviet bloc, etc.. As we entered the arena, a huge overhead television screen showed the live coverage from Lake Placid of the US hockey team celebrating its gold medal victory. Everyone in the arena rose to their feet, cheering and applauding, and quite a few broke out into an impromptu rendition of the National Anthem.

    But returning to the Olympic figure skating competition, there were some wonderful moments (Robin Cousins' victory) and some heartbreak moments (Tai and Randy's withdrawal) and many moments in between. I guess that's what the Olympics - and life - is all about.

  5. #20
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    [QUOTE=ChiSk8Fan] I remember Dagmar Lurz as the girl who broke her pelvis in an auto accident years before, to return to skating. Her jumps had no speed, no height and no distance. I remember her landing a triple salcow and just marveling that she made it. I thought the results were a rip off for the good free skaters./QUOTE]

    I agree with you. Watching Dagmar Lurz skate was not exactly an exciting thing to do. Indeed, she telegraphed her jumps to the nnth degree, and her jumps had little speed, height, or distance. Perhaps it was the European judging bloc that gave her the Olympic bronze medal in 1980 and the World silver medal later that winter.

    Whatever happened to Dagmar, anyway? Is she coaching and/or skating in Europe?

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFan4Life

    Whatever happened to Dagmar, anyway? Is she coaching and/or skating in Europe?
    Dagmar Prott (nee. Lurz) is now a judge. Most recently, she judged the 2003 World Junior Figure Skating championships

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by thisthingcalledlove
    Dagmar Prott (nee. Lurz) is now a judge. Most recently, she judged the 2003 World Junior Figure Skating championships
    Thanks for the update! Maybe we'll see her at Worlds and/or the Olympics - in the judges' booth, that is.

  8. #23
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    The exhibition performances following the figure skating competition featured gold medalists Rodnina/Zaitsev skating to the traditional Russian "Kalinka". Lots of quick steps and audience clapping. IMHO, they skated one of their best exhibition numbers at Lake Placid - they were powerful, confident, and bold.

  9. #24
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    The 1980 Olympics was the first one I watched. I loved Denise Biellmann.

    It also inspired me to take up ice skating. I did roller skating as a kid. And, when I watched the compulsories (the Kilian was one), I decided to try ice dancing. I've loved it ever since.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwizzlerS
    The 1980 Olympics was the first one I watched. I loved Denise Biellmann.

    It also inspired me to take up ice skating. I did roller skating as a kid. And, when I watched the compulsories (the Kilian was one), I decided to try ice dancing. I've loved it ever since.
    I can remember the gasps in the audience when Denise Biellmann executed the spin that now bears her name. "Look at that!!" Even the announcers were blown away by that maneuver.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by floskate
    I have to agree with your assessment SkateFan4Life.
    Although to be fair to the likes of Robin, the skaters in those days did what they had to do to win. Robin had a triple axel - no wonder when you see the size of his double, a triple lutz and a triple flip but never needed them in competition to win. He was barely defeated in the last 2 years of his career when it came to free skating.
    Very close, Floskate. Actually, Robin was undefeated in free skating for the last three years of his career, quite an accomplishment then or now! "Free skating" was the short and long program combined, and in those days figures and free skating received separate, smaller medals at competitions (other than the Olympics)--nowadays, "free skating" would be the whole competition.

    I miss the huge jumps, such as delayed and open and tuck axels, that skaters like Robin and Charlie Tickner could include in their programs in those days, when the men had 5 minutes instead of the current 4 1/2 minutes for a long program, and they didn't need to pack in the current number of triples and quads. And, as Floskate says, Robin was able to do all of the triples, and had even done triple axels in combination in practice (he stopped working on triple axels after a stress fracture that he blamed on that jump), but in those days most top male skaters were doing three different triples, and the only "official" triple axel ever landed in competition had been Vern Taylor's shaky one only 2 years earlier, so it made sense for Robin to play it safe in competition and skate a clean, balanced program with his superior spins and footwork, very high and fast jumps, and a "normal" number of triples. Robin's Olympic long program was choreographed to include 5 triples, which he did do at Worlds the next month, but due to a couple problems his triple count was lower in Lake Placid. For what it's worth, in the 1976 Olympics John Curry also won with the same three different triples, the toe loop, salchow, and loop, and, according to articles at the time, Robin was the only skater in the 1976 Olympics to do 5 triples in his long program, so Robin was considered one of the very best jumpers in the world in his amateur days, and the triple jump bar was moving up slowly at the time. Triple axels weren't mandatory for the top men until 1985 or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChiSk8Fan
    In the Men's event, I remember Robin Cousins fell in the SP on his straight line step. I recall his speed and line and his being a big, grand skater.
    Actually, you're remembering Robin's '80 Worlds short program, where he fell at the end of his straight line footwork (but still won the short program). In the '80 Olympics, Robin skated a flawless short program to The Railway Children, for which he received the only 6.0 awarded in Lake Placid. In the 1984 Olympic coverage on ABC, there was a hilarious segment on falls that showed numerous skaters falling in all sorts of ways, with most of the big names to that date, taken from all sorts of competitions and shows, and that comedy segment included Robin's '80 Worlds footwork fall. It was one of the very few times I can recall him falling (only 2 that I can think of on TV up to 1984), and in general I think that skaters tended to have fewer falls in programs during that period because they weren't forced to attempt as many triple (or quad) jumps, although of course there were still some memorable splat-fest programs!

    And I heartily agree with all the praise for Denise Biellmann's wonderful '80 Olympic performances. I thought at the time that she was by far the best skater of the ladies, and that it was outrageous that she just missed a medal (Denise was 12th in figures, 2nd in the short, and first in the long program in Lake Placid, to finish 4th overall). Denise's jumping was indeed in a different league from the other women, similar to Midori Ito's unique jumping superiority in 1989, although Tonya Harding was also landing triple axels shortly after Midori. Denise is in the record books as the first woman to do a triple lutz in competition, in 1978, and at that point only a limited number of the top men were doing triple lutzes in competition. Most of the top women in 1980 (Poetzsch, Fratianne, etc.) were only doing triple toe loops and salchows, while IIRC Denise was doing everything but triple axels, a jump repertoire which would hold up in competition today (although she would need more consistency and combinations, of course). And Denise even landed a triple lutz in pro competition in the mid-1990s, around 16-18 years after she was the first woman to land one in competition, even more impressive when so many of the women who turned pro in her generation--and later--were only doing doubles as pros, or at least by that time.

    Lois

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lois
    Very close, Floskate. Actually, Robin was undefeated in free skating for the last three years of his career, quite an accomplishment then or now! "Free skating" was the short and long program combined, and in those days figures and free skating received separate, smaller medals at competitions (other than the Olympics)--nowadays, "free skating" would be the whole competition. Lois
    The men's World competitions between 1977 - 1980 were tightly contested meets between the top four men - Robin Cousins, Jan Hoffman, Charlie Tickner, and Vladimir Kovalev. Hoffman won one title, Kovalev won two titles, and Tickner won one title during those years. The 1978 Worlds was virtually a three-way tie, with Tickner winning by the narrowest of margins.

    As wonderful a free skater as Cousins was, his comparatively weak school figures - and occasional errors in his free skating - prevented him from ever winning a World title. Of course, he won the grand prize - Olympic gold.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFan4Life
    The men's World competitions between 1977 - 1980 were tightly contested meets between the top four men - Robin Cousins, Jan Hoffman, Charlie Tickner, and Vladimir Kovalev. Hoffman won one title, Kovalev won two titles, and Tickner won one title during those years. The 1978 Worlds was virtually a three-way tie, with Tickner winning by the narrowest of margins.
    Jan Hoffman also won Worlds in 1974, making for an extremely unusual time gap between his first World title and his 2nd in 1980. And another unusual fact about the 1978 Worlds men's competition was that, besides being a virtual 3-way tie between Charlie, Robin, and Jan that may have been the closest finish of that sort under that judging system, Charlie won the overall title without winning any portion of the competition--figures, short, or long. The way the ordinals were split, Charlie had the highest number of either 2nds or higher or 3rds or higher--I think they had to go down to third place or higher to decide the title!

    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFan4Life
    As wonderful a free skater as Cousins was, his comparatively weak school figures - and occasional errors in his free skating - prevented him from ever winning a World title. Of course, he won the grand prize - Olympic gold.
    Yes, the disproportionate influence of figures on overall results was a chronic problem for Robin, and for other prominent free skaters of this period, such as Denise Biellmann (see above, though she was finally able to win Worlds when the scoring system was changed in 1981, after the three skaters who had placed ahead of her in Lake Placid turned pro or retired), Toller Cranston, and Janet Lynn. The short program was created because of the way figures specialist but weak free skater Trixie Schuba was beating Janet Lynn by building an insurmountable lead in figures. During the 70s, it was quite common for the winner of the free skating not to win the overall title, and often to fail to even medal overall, as when Denise in Lake Placid won the long but finished 4th overall. It was usually necessary for a skater to finish in the top 3 in figures to win an overall title, no matter how superior their free skating might be. From what I've read, Robin was the only Olympic champion who wasn't in the top 3 in figures--he was 4th--and after finishing 5th in figures the next month at Worlds, Robin went into the long program (skating after Jan Hoffman) knowing that it was impossible for him to win the overall World title, because 6.3 wasn't a permitted mark. The scoring system changes in 1981 made it easier for the top free skaters to make up more ground from lower figres placements than they could prior to those changes. It was also commonly believed that good free skaters were often held up somewhat in figures in order to keep them within medal contention, even if still out of reach of the overall gold.

    Lois
    Last edited by Lois; 12-27-2004 at 12:11 AM.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lois
    . During the 70s, it was quite common for the winner of the free skating not to win the overall title, and often to fail to even medal overall, as when Denise in Lake Placid won the long but finished 4th overall. Lois
    Well, Janet Lynn won the free skate in her World Championship appearances of 1971, 1972, and 1973, with mixed results. She finished fourth in 1971, third in 1972 (and at the Olympics that year), and second in 1973. Janet had the misfortune of sharing the ice with Austrian Trixi Schuba, who was one of the greatest school figures skaters of all time. Trixi built up such a massive lead in that discipline that the rest of the skaters had little, if any, chance to defeat her for the gold medal. And, until 1973, the competition was comprised of the school figures and the long program. If you messed up in the school figures, there wasn't much opportunity to get back in the hunt for medals.

    I remember watching Trixi Schuba's 1972 Olympic and World long program, and both times I had to shake my head in dismay and wonder, "How in the heck did that girl win the gold medal with such a lame free skate?" :sheesh: Her free skating, compared with the other top women, was nothing short of an embarrassment. Trixi finished seventh in the free skate at the 1972 Worlds, but her outstanding first-place in the school figures clinched the title for her.

    Dorothy Hamill won the long program at the 1974, 1975, and 1976 Worlds, but she won silver in 74 and 75 and gold in 76. Dorothy made mistakes in her short programs in 74 and 75, and because the competitions were very closely contested between Hamill, Holland's Diane de Leeuw, and East Germany's Christine Errath, any mistake could, and did, cost her the title.

    Linda Fratianne won the long program at the 1977, 1978, and 1979 Worlds, but she won gold in 1977 and 1979 and had to settle for silver in 1978. Linda's school figures were not as strong as East Germany's Annet Poetzsch - or at least they were not scored as high by the judges - so she was constantly in the position of working herself back after the school figures.

  15. #30
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    Those were some interesting details on the women in the 1970s, SkateFan4Life. In those, the winner of the free skating and/or long program usually got a medal, at least, and occasionally the gold, but the majority of time the free skating/long program winner didn't win the overall gold medal. Regarding Poetzsch, from what I've read she was an extremely good figures skater, and as far as I can tell was undefeated in figures for about four years, so she probably deserved her figures wins, unlike (from what I've read) Katarina Witt winning figures at '88 Worlds, after years of reportedly lousy figures and lower figure placements, which was written off as a gift for the newly crowned 2-time Olympic champion that year.

    When I wrote "During the 70s, it was quite common for the winner of the free skating not to win the overall title, and often to fail to even medal overall," I was thinking not only of the women at Worlds, but also the men, who I think are a stronger example, and other competitions such as Europeans (where in the late 70s Robin Cousins and Denise Biellmann both did the "win the freeskating but not the gold" routine, 3 times for Robin and I think at least once for Denise) and Nationals, such as 1980 US Nationals, when Lisa-Marie Allen won the free skating, but was 2nd overall behind Fratianne.

    For the men at Worlds in the 1970s, I didn't start watching skating until 1976 and don't have all the free skating results handy for the earlier years, but compare this to the women's results listed above as an example of how badly figures were handicapping the best male figure skaters of the mid to late 1970s: from 1973-1980 Toller Cranston and Robin Cousins won the free skating at Worlds three times each, but ended up with merely a single overall bronze for Toller and a bronze and two silvers for Robin, compared with the 6 golds that would have translated to under the current no-figures system. In 1976, John Curry did (deservedly) win both the free skating and the overall gold at the Worlds and Olympics, but I think that John was the only man to do so at Worlds during those 8 years! I don't have my old skating magazines handy and I am not absolutely certain who the free skating champion was at '77 Worlds, when Robin had to withdraw injured, but I believe that it was Minoru Sano, the Japanese skater who won the overall bronze before a home country crowd in a dramatic fashion that year, but was also (as usual with the best free skaters of the period) dragged down by low figures. Kovalev, who won overall that year, certainly wasn't a great free skater, but he regularly placed high in figures, as did Jan Hoffman. So, IIRC, John Curry in 1976 was the only man in 8 years who was able to win both the free skating and the overall title at Worlds, and even if you include the two Olympic golds for John and Robin that is still a mere 3 out of 10 overall titles to the best male free skater of the competition, a dramatic illustration of the effect of figures in those days compared to the current free-skating-only state of the sport. And both John and Robin only won Europeans once, again thanks to low figures in Robin's case.

    Lois
    Last edited by Lois; 12-29-2004 at 12:11 AM.

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