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Thread: World Pro Figure Skating Championships

  1. #1
    SkateFan4Life
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    World Pro Figure Skating Championships

    How many of you remember the fantastic World Professional Figure Skating Championships that were contested in early December in Landover, Maryland and broadcast on television?

    I pulled out my 1988 holiday season videotape of these championships that was hosted by Carol Heiss Jenkins and featured a retrospective look at this event. Wow, what great skating, and boy, do I ever miss watching this competition.

    This event began in 1981 (I think), and it was vehicle for the medalists from the 1980 Olympics - those who had turned pro - and established pro skaters, to compete in ladies and mens singles, pairs, and dance.

    The earliest competition featured two "teams", one of skaters from Lake Placid
    (Robin Cousins, Linda Fratianne, Tai Babilonia/Randy Gardner, Charlie Tickner, etc) and the other of Dorothy Hamill, Ludmilla/Oleg Protopopov, Peggy Fleming, Scott Hamilton, Janet Lynn, etc. They competed as a team, and the competition featured a group skate by each team. The group skates were very entertaining, I thought.

    The broadcast showed the return of Janet Lynn, who skated to a gorgeous rendition from "Sound of Music". As usual, Janet flew across the ice and showered the rink with her magic.

    Peggy Fleming skated to "Some Enchanted Evening" - a performance that marked her return to competition. It was 1981 - the first time she had competed since winning the 1968 World Championships. Peggy looked so beautiful, and she skated with such elegance. Wow.

    Dorothy Hamill skated to an excerpt from "Nutcracker". Carol Heiss said that this had been a piece from her theatre-in-the-round show, so it had been choreographed for a small slate of ice. Dorothy managed to "expand" the program so that she covered the entire, regulation-size ice rink. She looked very pretty, and she skated with her usual speed and charm. At that time (1982), Dorothy still had to deal with her near-sightedness, as she did not wear contacts or glasses when she skated. When she finished her routine, she squinted and had to hunt around a little to find the rink exit door.

    The broadcast showcased the legendary Protopopovs who achieved a string of perfect "10s" for their program. Outstanding!

    Scott Hamilton skated to "Battle Hymn of the Republic", and Robin Cousins danced and strutted to "The Devil Takes a Holiday". The Hamilton-Cousins rivalry was amazing, as it brought out the best in each skater. Their duels were close and so entertaining!

    Linda Fratianne was featured in a program of cuts from "Chariots of Fire" and "E.T.". Carol said, "Linda always showed up for this competition well-trained and in excellent shape". She looked terrific, and she skated with a lot of fire.

    Toller Cranston was featured in a number that included "heart beats". He grabbled his chest, as if he was feeling his heart "beat" during this piece.

    John Curry was also shown, with one of his magnificent programs.

    The audiences for these competitions were so enthusiastic. They packed the arena and cheered all of the competitors.

    In my estimation, this was a real competition, as the competitors showed up in good condition, and they threw out everything in their repertoire. They event achieved very high television ratings as well.

    It's too bad that there isn't at least one high-quality professional figure skating competition on the calendar these days!

    All of the above - IMHO - of course.

  2. #2
    SkateFan4Life
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    Dorothy Hamill was also shown skating to "One Rock 'n Roll Too Many" - a number that won her the World Pro Championships around 1986. She looked trim and fit, and she skated beautifully.

  3. #3
    PATCH NJSk8Fan's Avatar
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    Oh boy do I remember the World Pro Comp. often referred to simply as "Landover".....gosh do I MISS it!!! I only saw it from 1995 til it "vanished" from the face of the skating world, but it was definitely a highlight of the year!
    It takes place not too far from where I live and we had hoped to make a little "vacation" out of attending it sometime.
    I sure wish this competition could be resurrected!!!

  4. #4
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Scott was not as impressed with the World Pro stuff in his book... LOL

    seriously though... Battle Hymn is one of my favorite programs of Scott's and Satan Takes A Holiday is my FAVORITE piece by Robin.... so it was either you go with the technician or the artist... *sigh*

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle
    Scott was not as impressed with the World Pro stuff in his book... LOL

    seriously though... Battle Hymn is one of my favorite programs of Scott's and Satan Takes A Holiday is my FAVORITE piece by Robin.... so it was either you go with the technician or the artist... *sigh*
    Wasn't Scott pissed that Robin Cousins beat him with a delayed axel when Scott still had most of his triples? I love Landover. I would have never known about Rory Flack Burghardt if it wasn't for Landover.

    I also agree with Dick (this was in Scott's book) that a delayed axel is just as worthy as a triple jump (Esp Robin Cousins' delayed axel).

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    Landover was my favourite event next to Worlds because it showed that pros could skate competition based performances without resorting to cheesy show numbers like we see in Champions on Ice.

    Landover for me will always be Hamill, Cousins, Torvill & Dean, and my favourites, Underhill and Martini. 1986 and 1987 were my favourite years of the event. One performance which stands out for me is Rosalynn Sumners 4 minute technical skate to The Nutcracker. Wow, if anyone else skates to this cut half as well, I'd be suitably impressed.

    Thank you for starting such a fun thread.

  7. #7
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    Ah, a thread on the World Pros in Landover, scene of some of the greatest pro skating programs ever skated, IMHO! The first team competition took place in December 1980, because Dorothy Hamill and John Curry didn't want to be scored individually (Curry ended up cancelling that year, and only skated at Landover once, in December 1981). While the judging often left much to be desired, I felt that most of the skaters took Landover very seriously as an opportunity to do their best programs and produce their best performances for a global TV audience and a packed, enthusiastic live crowd.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle
    seriously though... Battle Hymn is one of my favorite programs of Scott's and Satan Takes A Holiday is my FAVORITE piece by Robin.... so it was either you go with the technician or the artist... *sigh*
    Well, those two programs weren't competing head to head anyway. Robin Cousins won with "Satan Takes a Holiday" in 1985, the first time they competed as pros, and Robin won again in 1987. Scott Hamilton won with "Battle Hymn" in 1986. Personally, I have problems with any skater using a patriotic number in competition (this also became an issue with Hamilton's last-minute substitution of Battle Hymn for a non-flag-waving program in Cincinnati in '92, when Hamilton was behind Victor Petrenko and several other skaters after the technical, but controversially won with Battle Hymn, with a dedication to the 1961 US team, whom he never knew, tacked on to the beginning).

    Especially in pro competitions, I'd much rather see great spins (like Lucinda Ruh in one of the last World Pros), innovative and difficult footwork, gorgeous line, creative choreography and musicality, and high, fast tuck, open, or delayed axels done with good form than triple jumps. Over the years, there were so many examples of all of the above, from Robin, John Curry and Janet Lynn (even when she was unable to jump in her final year, due to knee injury) through Torvill & Dean, Kurt Browning, Lucinda and other lesser-known skaters like Wilson & McCall's "Billion Dollar Baby," Miller & Fauver, Fox & Dalley, Rosalynn Sumners' best work, and even unknown John Carlow's "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" in the 2nd Landover as a last minute replacement for the injured Tai & Randy. Some years were better than others, but there were always some "keeper" programs at every World Pros, and I very much miss that event. I was lucky enough to see 8 Landovers live, and they contained some of the best pro skating I've ever seen.

    Lois
    Last edited by Lois; 03-01-2005 at 05:07 PM.

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    Oops, and how could I have forgotten to mention the incredible Landover performances by Underhill & Martini many different years! They grew and developed, but from their earlier "Starlight Express" through "When A Man Loves a Woman" and "Unchained Melody" to "Yesterday" they became my all-time favorite pair.

    Lois

  9. #9
    SkateFan4Life
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    The legendary Ludmilla and Oleg Protopopov competed at the World Pros well into their 50s. It was the one competition they participated in, and they trained for this competition throughout the year.

    I also remember Barbara Underhill/Paul Martini, who won the pairs title several times with great, great performances. "Unchained Melody" - wow!

    Tai Babilonia/Randy Gardner skated an absolutely gorgeous program to the soundtrack from "On Golden Pond". Stunning skating.

    What really impressed me about these competitions was the consistent, very high quality of skating. Everyone took this competition seriously, everyone was trained for it, and they skated programs full of difficult technical moves and great choregraphy. What a pleasure for us in the audience!

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    I always loved to see that competition in Landover, this was THE competition for professionals, it all changed after the 98 olympics, then came the pro-am and then we lost the Landover one, it would be so lovely to have each year a professional competion, but a serious one, where all the best pros would stake and we could see wonderful skating like we used too, this competiton in Landover was the ONE, and it was a very serious competition, I remember it very well and miss it too. I have the 95,96,97 tapes here and when I watched them, I miss them so much. We would see always some amazing performances that we would never see at other competition for amateurs. All because of the restrictions.

  11. #11
    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    It's really too bad that Dick Button sold the rights to the competition. He had the prestige and connections to get the best of the best to appear. A lot of the best pro's refused to skate in the competition when it was made Pro-Am and that caused it to lose it's prestige. It's also one of the reasons why MK has a World Pro title in her resume.

  12. #12
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    I remember watching this in the early and mid 80s a few times; it was one of the only times I was able to see Toller Cranston, Janet Lynn, John Curry, and others from that era perform. (I am ashamed to admit I don't remember much about any of their performances, but I was in my teens at the time so skaters who were known for artistry and subtle nuances didn't exactly do it for me in those days, I wanted to see jumping, jumping, and more jumping!! Now I wish I'd paid more attention.)

    One truly great performance I do remember, tho, is Judy Blumberg & Michael Siebert doing a free dance to Malcom McLaren's "Madame Butterfly", complete with huge fan that they used as a prop. Great stuff!!

  13. #13
    SkateFan4Life
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyCoop
    One truly great performance I do remember, tho, is Judy Blumberg & Michael Siebert doing a free dance to Malcom McLaren's "Madame Butterfly", complete with huge fan that they used as a prop. Great stuff!!
    Yes, I remember that one well, too. It was superb! The music had a crisp beat as well, and Judy and Michael skated their hearts out. Judy held an enormous fan throughout the performance, and she and Michael posed with the fan with their lists and other moves. It must have taken a great deal of practice and coordination to work so well with such a large prop.

    As I wrote before, what really inspired me about this particular championships was the consistently high quality of the performances. All of the skaters were superb, in my opinion. Their performances were the essense of professionalism. As far as I'm concerned, being a "professional" is not just a matter of being paid for what you do, but also having a high sense of pride in what you do and doing the best you can do all the time.

  14. #14
    SkateFan4Life
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    Quote Originally Posted by heyang
    It's really too bad that Dick Button sold the rights to the competition. He had the prestige and connections to get the best of the best to appear. A lot of the best pro's refused to skate in the competition when it was made Pro-Am and that caused it to lose it's prestige. It's also one of the reasons why MK has a World Pro title in her resume.
    You're absolutely right. Dick Button definitely had the prestige and the connections to get the best pros to participate in this competition.

    If the World Pros resurrected itself, however, who would compete? Looking back at recent Olympic champions.....

    Women:
    Sarah Hughes - forget it. Out of shape, no triples.
    Tara Lipinski - forget it. No longer competing. Injured/retired.
    Oksana Baiul - maybe, but she's out of shape, too.
    Kristi Yamaguchi - definitely. Still in shape, still has the triples.
    Katarina Witt - probably not. She has only one triple, a few doubles, etc.
    Annet Poeszch - forget it. No longer competing.
    Dorothy Hamill - forget it. No longer competing.

    Other women - Yuka Sato, Nancy Kerrigan. It's a short list.

    Men:
    Alexi Yagudin - hopefully, if he's not injured.
    Ilia Kulik - hopefully.
    Alexei Urmanov - probably not - out of shape.
    Viktor Petrenko - hopefully.
    Brian Boitano - hopefully.
    Scott Hamilton - probably not, sad to say.

    Pairs:
    Berezhnaya/Sikharulidize - yes!
    Sale/Pelletier - yes!
    Kazakova/Dmitriev - no longer a pair
    Gordeeva/Grinkov - no - rest in peace, Sergei.
    Mishkutionok/Dmitriev - no longer a pair

    Dance:
    Anissina/Peizerat - yes!
    Grishuk/Platov - no longer a pair
    Klimova/Ponomarenko - hopefully.

    The field would need to be filled with silver and bronze medalists and non-medalists.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFan4Life
    The field would need to be filled with silver and bronze medalists and non-medalists.
    Can you tell me why you only include _Olympic_ gold medalists??? There would be quite several more gold medalists even if you'd include worlds. (*cough*Kurt Browning*cough*) Plus also in the older times there were competitors who did NOT win gold anywhere..... (may I add - they were often crowd pleasers)

    And then - you are doing this list in the year BEFORE the olympic games. After Turino there will be again a whole set of new pros it seems....

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