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Thread: Wide World of Sports Figure Skating Coverage

  1. #1
    SkateFan4Life
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    Wide World of Sports Figure Skating Coverage

    I have fond memories of watching the Nationals and the World Championships, as telecast on ABC's Wide World of Sports. My first memory was way back in 1962, when as a kid, I watched portions of the Worlds from Prague, Czeckoslovakia, on black-and-white television. The coverage focused on
    Maria and Otto Jelinek, whose family had defected from Czechoslovakia after World War II and settled in Canada. The brother and sister team won the World title before their home country audience, which went wild with joy at their victory. Their moves look simple by today's standards, but they were the best in the field in their day. Those championships also featured Canadian Donald Jackson, who won the title with the first-ever triple lutz in World competition. He received a number of 6.0s, all well deserved.

    The commentators - Jim McKay and Dick Button - were always articulate and passionate about the sport of figure skating. What a pleasure it was to watch those early days of figure skating coverage!

    I remember watching Peggy Fleming win her first US title in 1964. She was only 15, and she came from out of nowhere to win the title and qualify for the Olympic team. As she skated her long program, Carol Heiss, who was commentating, said, "I think we have just seen the next Olympic champion. This girl is only 15 years old, but she already has all of the moves. Now all she needs is experience." How true Carol was about Peggy.

    In those days, the men wore bolero jackets and pants. The women wore dresses that, by today's standards, were quite simple and plain. They all looked wonderful, I thought, and could they ever skate!
    Last edited by SkateFan4Life; 05-22-2005 at 04:52 PM.

  2. #2
    ~ Figure Skating Is My Passion ~ Ladskater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkateFan4Life
    I have fond memories of watching the Nationals and the World Championships, as telecast on ABC's Wide World of Sports. My first memory was way back in 1962, when as a kid, I watched portions of the Worlds from Prague, Czeckoslovakia, on black-and-white television. The coverage focused on
    Maria and Otto Jelinek, whose family had defected from Czechoslovakia after World War II and settled in Canada. The brother and sister team won the World title before their home country audience, which went wild with joy at their victory. Their moves look simple by today's standards, but they were the best in the field in their day. Those championships also featured Canadian Donald Jackson, who won the title with the first-ever triple lutz in World competition. He received a number of 6.0s, all well deserved.

    The commentators - Jim McKay and Dick Button - were always articulate and passionate about the sport of figure skating. What a pleasure it was to watch those early days of figure skating coverage!

    I remember watching Peggy Fleming win her first US title in 1964. She was only 15, and she came from out of nowhere to win the title and qualify for the Olympic team. As she skated her long program, Carol Heiss, who was commentating, said, "I think we have just seen the next Olympic champion. This girl is only 15 years old, but she already has all of the moves. Now all she needs is experience." How true Carol was about Peggy.

    In those days, the men wore bolero jackets and pants. The women wore dresses that, by today's standards, were quite simple and plain. They all looked wonderful, I thought, and could they ever skate!
    Thanks for this great post. Yes, I recall as a young girl watching Donald Jackson accomplish his amazing jump - the triple Lutz. I think that must have been my first introduction to the world of figure skating before taking to the ice myself in Prince George, BC. The Jelineks were wonderful too and were a great inspiration to our future Canadian pairs teams.

    Later on my inspirations were the great Karen Magnusson and Toller Cranston.


    Thanks!!!!!

  3. #3
    SkateFan4Life
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    You are very welcome, Ladskater. It's nice to know that we share some of the same wonderful memories of competitive figure skating.

  4. #4
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    What a wonderful Mother's Day memory...My mother passed away about three years ago...I remember in the mid sixties when I was a very little boy we would pile up on a Winter's Saturday ever year and watch figure skating on WWoS. Mother loved the way that the ladies "danced across the ice" and I liked how fast they went on ice. Living in small town Georgia it was something we both loved that was a million miles away, or might has well have been. It wasn't until I was a teen and able to come to the big ole metropolis of Atlanta (before it truely was one lol) and I believe my mother was a little envious and proud at the same time that she was able to get me included in the choir trip. Later on, I used to bring her tapes of figure skating when she couldn't figure out how to work the VCR and was doing something else when Wide Wide broadcast came on TV. It's funny, though I could never love FS as much as my mother, it's becaused we loved it together that it is so special now...thanks for the memories

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by sk8m8
    What a wonderful Mother's Day memory...My mother passed away about three years ago...I remember in the mid sixties when I was a very little boy we would pile up on a Winter's Saturday ever year and watch figure skating on WWoS.
    Thanks for your kind comments. I, too, have wonderful memories of watching the figure skating coverage on black-and-white television during the 1960s. Wide World of Sports was one few television programs that actually aired competitive figure skating, and it was a joy to watch.

  6. #6
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    I have fond memories of watching Peggy Fleming win her first of three World titles at Davos in 1966. "Wide World of Sports" was on hand, and they filmed the skaters competing outdoors for this championship. Peggy took to the ice in brilliant sunshine, and she was almost squinting as she went though her jumps and graceful spins.

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    I am to young to remember those early days. But I loved the 95/96 season when Jim McKay came back.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eeyora
    I am to young to remember those early days. But I loved the 95/96 season when Jim McKay came back.
    Indeed, yes! Jim McKay was "Mr. Olympics" on ABC-TV for a number of years, and he served as a very able anchorman for the Winter Olympics as well. IMHO, he was one of the best commentators of his time. He did not try to be a self-proclaimed expert on the sport, but he certainly did his homework. He relied on Dick Button, who, of course, has actually skated and won (five World titles and two Olympic gold medals, not to mention seven US titles) to provide the "expert commentary". McKay was the layman - the guy on the street who asked the kinds of questions the average sports fan (not necessarily figure skating fan) would ask. I LOVED those old programs! The drama of the then Cold War era, seeing skaters from the Soviet Union receive gracious applause by American fans (at a time when we weren't exactly chummy chummy with the USSR), seeing the US rebound from the terrible plane crash that took the lives of the entire 1961 World team with 14-year old Scott Allen winning Olympic bronze in 1964, and of course, following Peggy Fleming rise to the top of the figure skating world with her athletic grace.

  9. #9
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    I really loved the old black-and-white television coverage provided by 'Wide World of Sports' in the 1960s. It seems like an eternity ago, but we did not have the kind of instant news that we have today - no CNN, Internet, etc. -- and since there was precious little media coverage on figure skating events - except for publications such as the New York times -- most of us had no advanced heads-up on the outcome of the competition. Jim McKay, Dick Button, and the rest of the commentators of those times did an great job of building drama and human interest into their broadcasts. Even if the competition occurred a week or so ago, it still seemed like fresh news - at least to me.

    Ah...those were the days!

  10. #10
    Custom User Title CDMM1991's Avatar
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    For the Canadian GSers around here, ESPN Classic Canada, an extended cable or satelite channel, not a normal one, shows great coverage from years ago (for me at least, I'm younger than some of you guys hehe) from what I've seen from about 1989-1995 Canadians, and Worlds. It's quite interesting to see the progress and to think that the girl that won my category last year could have won the 1989 Canadians senior short program. And that wasn't even that long ago.

    P.S. The figure skating is on at various times from Sunday night, through Monday. Retro coverage of other sports at different times of the week.

  11. #11
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Does ESPNCC have a streaming feed? If so, I'd love to see it.

    As it is, I have to rely on the kindness of friends at the fsvids site. Recently the entire free skates of all the US ladies champions from 1953 to 1970 were posted. What a joy to see Tenley Albright, Carol Heiss, Peggy Fleming and Janet Lynn skate their entire programs again! The quality was very, very good too. The films were made for the clubs by a Mr. Howard Craker and later were offered for sale by a Mr. Glass. Mr. Glass was also selling tapes of the other 3 disciplines, but pollyanna, the poster who had the tape, could only afford one at the time, and chose the Ladies.

    Is there anyone out there who bought the other Howard Craker tapes?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DORISPULASKI
    Does ESPNCC have a streaming feed? If so, I'd love to see it.

    As it is, I have to rely on the kindness of friends at the fsvids site. Recently the entire free skates of all the US ladies champions from 1953 to 1970 were posted. What a joy to see Tenley Albright, Carol Heiss, Peggy Fleming and Janet Lynn skate their entire programs again! The quality was very, very good too. The films were made for the clubs by a Mr. Howard Craker and later were offered for sale by a Mr. Glass. Mr. Glass was also selling tapes of the other 3 disciplines, but pollyanna, the poster who had the tape, could only afford one at the time, and chose the Ladies.

    Is there anyone out there who bought the other Howard Craker tapes?
    What a shame that the Ice Channel never came into existence, as that surely would have carried some of the great competitive programs from the past.

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