Well, there are no competitive figure skating events on the calendar for the time being, so I'm wetting my appetite for the upcoming Olympic season by viewing my library of self-made videotapes of various World Championships and Olympic figure skating competitions. I just viewed my videotape from the 1995 Worlds, held in Birmingham, England. What a great competition!
14-year-old Michelle Kwan skated two beautiful programs, error-free, and laden with triple jumps. At that stage of her career, Michelle was a skater who looked, and skated, like the young girl she was. She wore a cute pigtail and ingenue costumes. She did not wear makeup at that point, so she was a young, fresh face on the ice. Michelle's artistry at that point was pretty much an undeveloped entity, and she looked like a young girl skating in a adult competition. The judges marked her well, but they held down her presentation marks, as they, apparently, considered her to be not mature enough to be on the World podium. Sandra Bezic, commenting, said, "The only thing the judges can mark her down for is being fourteen." I concur with that assessment. Michelle seemed pleased with her marks and was happy with her fourth-place finish. However, it seemed (to me at least) that her coach, Frank Carroll, wasn’t happy with the results. Clearly, Carroll felt as though Michelle should have won a medal. One of the commentators asked Michelle if she thought it was fair that she finished out of the medals, and she graciously said she was very happy with her performance. Good for you, Michelle! You have always been a class act, IMHO.
US champion Nicole Bobek won the short program and looked poised to win the World title, as she had a beautiful “Doctor Zhivago” program that was loaded with triples, mature choreography, and artistry. Nicole started out strongly but then made two errors in the second half of her program. Her two errors seemed to destroy her concentration, and she finished rather poorly. Poor Nicole. She was so upset, as she realized all too well that she had blown a golden opportunity. At least she received high enough marks to win the bronze medal. The cameras followed Nicole into the back area and filmed her crying her eyes out. Sheesh - enough, already (the cameras, I mean).
I was really happy to see Chen Lu win her first World title. She skated two beautiful, beautiful (!) programs, and she won convincingly. She was overjoyed with her victory, and she cried tears of joy during the medal ceremony. Well done, Chen!
France’s Suraya Bonaly won her third consecutive World silver medal. Without being critical, I think that her skating was an embarrassment, from an artistic point of view. Just a lot of simple stroking to one end of the rink – JUMP – then stroking to the other end of the rink – JUMP – etc. Boring, boring, IMHO. At least this year Suraya did not yank the silver medal off her neck, as she had done the previous year. She told the media she was happy to have won a medal in this competition.
Canada’s Elvis Stojko successfully defended his World title with some wonderfully strong, masculine skating. Lots of triples and lots of confidence. It appeared that the judges had finally “accepted” Elvis’ brand of skating – not the old school classical style – and gave him marks that reflected his excellence. Great job, Elvis!!
The silver medal was won by Todd Eldredge, who skated two strong programs. In my opinion, the judges scored this competition just right, with Elvis first and Todd second. Todd looked as though he was very happy to be back on the World podium, after an absence of several years due to injury and illnesses.
France’s Philippe Candeloro won the bronze medal with his typical flamboyant and somewhat technically flawed programs. Without a doubt, Philippe was a great favorite of the audience, and he certainly showed a lot of showmanship. Scott Davis of the US finished 7th at this Worlds. I always enjoyed Scott’s skating, particularly his terrific “West Side Story” long program that won him the 1993 and 1994 US titles. At Worlds, however, he always made several mistakes and finished out of the medals.
Radka Kovarikova and Renee Novotny won the World title with two strong programs. Evgenia Shikkova and Vadim Naumov of Russia finished second, and Jenni Meno and Todd Sand of the US finished third.
Russian dancers Oksana Grishuk and Evgency Platov successfully defended their World dance title, with Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko of Finland winning silver, and Sophie Moniotte and Pascal Lavanchy of France winning bronze.
And after a decade, Michelle Kwan is still in the game. Everybody else mentioned above has either retired & left the sport, turned pro, or is coaching.
Michelle carries the torch.....