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.