Wednesday, July 7

1992 World Championships: The Ladies Free Skate

Continuing my entirely-too-long review from yesterday of the 1992 World Championships with the ladies free skate.

A quick reminder of the standings heading into the free skate:
1.) Yamaguchi; 2.) Chen; 3.) Kerrigan; 4.) Harding-Gillooly; 5.) Hubert; 6.) Chouinard; 7.) Preston; 8.) Claeys; 9.) Neske; 10.) Bonaly; 11.) Sato


We start with some opening thoughts by the Canadian commentators. Barb Underhill comments that she thinks there was help from the judges as far as the Americans went in the short program. She had been saying all throughout the short program how impressed she was with the judges for marking the skates and not the reputations, but she wasn't happy with Harding completely missing her combination and ending up 4th.

Karen Preston from Canada, 7th place after the short program and the music is If I Were King.
Triple Salchow/double toe, double flip, triple fLutz is nicely done, triple loop outside the circle but held on, spiral into another triple Salchow with a fall-out, step sequence with a double flip right in the middle of it, double loop, double Axel landed really forward as usually typical with Karen. Triple toe loop again landed slightly forward but completely.
Choreography started only after stroking back and forth for the first three jumping elements. Spins are nice but the combination spin was very slow. She has trouble with the back camel centering and position. Spirals are nothing to write home about and done very quickly. Nice choreography once it started, but Paul Martini comments that there wasn't really any fire.. I agree. She really didn't leave any impression. In the kiss and cry, she comments that her knees started to get really stiff.

5.2 4.8 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.4 5.3 5.3 5.5
5.3 4.7 5.3 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.3 5.4 5.5

She moves into first place of those that have skated.

Alice Sue Clayes from Belgium (Atlanta, Georgia) skating to Coppelia. She wasn't shown in the short program, but she finished 8th there. 4th at the 1992 World Junior Championships.
Triple loop well done, steps into triple Salchow also well done, double Lutz, triple toe/double Axel sequence is beautiful!, Ina Bauer is very nice into a double flip, double Axel, triple toe loop/double toe loop, double Axel.
Spins are decent, spirals are forgettable but weren't they all back then?
Cute middle section with some toe pick choreography, and as a whole the program really impressed me! She didn't rush anything, and she filled the program with a variety of transitions. She was just coming off the junior scene and I think she fit right in to this World Championship field. Definitely a big surprise.

5.3 5.5 5.4 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.3 5.3 5.6
5.4 5.4 5.5 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.4 5.3 5.5

Overtakes Preston for the current lead.

Long-time Canadian international judge Jean Senft talks about the importance of spinning and clips of Swtizerland's Nathalie Krieg with her perfect centering and 5000 variations of position are shown from a practice session.

Patricia Neske from Germany. 25 years old at this event and 9th after the short. Music is Miss Saigon. Also skating for the country of her parents heritage although it sounds like she also grew up in the States. Yup, she's from California.
Triple toe loop is huge to start, single Axel half loop triple Salchow with a step-out, nice double Axel with steps into a double flip, double loop, triple Salchow, nice double Axel, double Lutz, triple toe loop step double toe loop, double Axel step double toe loop.
Great spins again-- some of the best in the competition, and she has a refinement about everything she does. It's all very solid and she relaxes you. I think she could have engaged herself more into the performance but once again, it was all very nicely done.
Commentators mention as she waits for her marks that she was a strong compulsory figures skater and finished as high as 4th in the World (in 1989). Also mentions that she skates during her lunch break from her job as a bank teller, so she obviously wasn't skating 30 hours a week! Good for her.

5.1 5.3 5.3 5.0 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.2 5.4
5.2 5.3 5.2 5.3 5.2 5.5 5.4 5.3 5.4

Japan's Yuka Sato is next. 11th place after the short program and her music includes La Bayadere.
Nice triple toe loop to start, double Lutz, triple loop step into double toe loop, nice double Axel/double toe loop, popped her second loop into a single, triple Salchow, another triple Salchow that only gets around 2 1/2 times and a hard fall, double Axel.
Nice fast spins with great centering and the program was full of footwork-- something she always excelled at when it really wasn't an important element.
She was one of my favorites in the short program for her performance quality and gorgeous basic skating-- this was no different. All of her arm movements are finished and programs back then didn't always have cohesiveness or tell a story. She was able to do that and have the music work as a whole. I really, really liked her skating at this Championship! Underhill says Yuka reminds her of (a much more polished) Elizabeth Manley. I definitely see it in the energy that she gave the entire program.

5.4 5.4 5.4 5.2 5.3 5.5 5.3 5.3 5.6
5.6 5.8 5.4 5.4 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.2 5.6

At this point, Sato moves into second ahead of Preston and behind Claeys.

Surya Bonaly from France, 10th after the short program and the music is Espana Cani and 50 other pieces. The commentators mention at the beginning of the program that there was talk of Surya wanting to turn pro (after the Olympics, I'd guess) and she didn't even want to skate her long program at this event but the French Federation told her that she had to. She wasn't happy with her short program marks. Shock? I think not.
Real telegraphed QUAD toe loop attempt that looked about a half-turn short and two-footed but not a bad effort, triple Lutz with a turn-out into double toe loop, double Axel, triple Salchow with a fall-out, telegraphed triple flip cheated and landed on two feet, popped loop into a single, triple toe loop/triple toe loop and the second jump is cheated, triple Lutz is cheated.
Nice spins with some unique variations and a great Biellmann, but obviously the skating in between all of the elements was really not up to the level of anyone else near the top of the standings. Spirals, just as with the short program, looked like they were a struggle to hold the edge. Moments of an attempt to show choreography but she had no understanding of listening to the music yet. Skates with so much speed but it's all very sloppy.
Suzanne Bonaly apparently left the rink before the free skate and wasn't there with Surya. They think mom is the big problem. The commentators talk about how she did an interview earlier in the week and was happy to answer questions but then her mom came along and was giving her a hard time. Surya mentioned she wanted to come to the States to work with Frank Carroll again which is news to me.. I never knew those two had worked together. Commentators also mention Vanessa Reilly had Bonaly 22nd in the short program, and also had her way lower than her actual placements in the Albertville Games.

5.3 4.7 5.2 5.4 5.3 5.2 5.6 5.6 5.2
5.2 4.7 5.1 5.1 5.1 5.4 5.4 5.4 5.3

Two first place marks from the judges. I mean, I get that she was trying really hard stuff technically and she did have nice spins, but most of the jumps were cheated and it wasn't like she had her presentation to rely on. Oh well, she goes into fifth.

Another Cutting Edge segment by Sandra Bezic as the final group of ladies warm up. Sandra says that there is a mis-conception about ladies being feminine and not athletic but then she compares the Olympic-winning free skates of Petrenko and Yamaguchi-- where both did five triples. I guess they had to waste time somehow.

Laetitia Hubert of France skates first in the final group. She's 5th after the short. Stairway to Heaven and Bohemian Rhapsody are included in her music.
Nice triple loop to start, triple fLutz with no chance at all and a hard fall, triple flip at the other side of the rink with a pitch forward but landed, triple toe loop/triple toe loop combo with a real fight at the end, triple Salchow again landed forward, double Axel (already attempted five triples at the two minute mark), triple Salchow/double toe loop, single Axel with some hops into a triple toe loop and she fell.
As I mentioned in the short program, she always gets as close as possible to the boards when she's doing her crossovers to build up speed, and she nearly went down in the beginning of this program due to the same issue! Choreography is kinda blah compared to the fun short program and her basic skating is really choppy. Spins, once again, were at the mediocre to poor level but she flew around he rink for the entire four minutes.
Now, the ironic thing. Laetitia landed the triple toe/triple toe at the beginning, meaning she repeated the jump once already. She fell on the toe loop at the end-- something she wouldn't have even gotten credit for had she landed it! May she have finished with the bronze medal if not for that stupid mistake? I don't think she was up to the level of many of the other skaters yet, so I still wouldn't have given it to her.

5.5 5.2 5.7 5.5 5.5 5.7 5.5 5.5 5.7
5.6 4.8 5.6 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.6

Eight first place marks. I loved Laetitia later on in her career, but I think she was judged generously for (somewhat) keeping it together after her Albertville disaster. Three judges even went up for presentation… humph. Maybe Vanessa Reilly really was the only one who knew what she was doing :-)

Nancy Kerrigan free skate. 3rd in the short, commentators reiterate that they don't agree. Born on the Fourth of July by John Williams, and she has a really nice white wedding-looking-at-the-top dress (it looks better than my description, trust me!)
Double Axel to start, doubled flip, triple toe loop/triple toe loop and she squeaks the second one out, nice triple Salchow, single Lutz.. toe pick didn't go in right and she stepped out, spread eagle into a triple loop with a big fall-out, triple Salchow again and not in combination,
The first part of the program was really nice, but then of course it turns into this change of music and mechanical choreography for the circular steps. The music itself isn't that bad, but the way she interprets it just looks awkward to me. Nice spins and good use of the ice. Kerrigan spiral held in a big circle to end the program, which gets a huge response and standing ovation. Besides those weird movements that surrounded the footwork, the program was really beautiful. Confirmation from the commentators that until Harding-Gillooly skated her short program, Laetitia Hubert was in front of Nancy. Because of the ordinals, the day ended with Kerrigan 3rd and Hubert 5th. Did I mention I don't miss ordinals?

5.5 5.2 5.5 5.3 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.7 5.6
5.7 5.6 5.7 5.5 5.7 5.8 5.9 5.8 5.8

Josee Chouinard from Canada, 6th in the short program.
Turns into triple Salchow and it was perfect, triple flip and she falls hard-- supposed to be a triple flip/triple toe loop attempt, down to the other side of the rink for a triple toe loop/double toe loop, little preparation for the triple Lutz and she stepped out, double Axel with a real stiff forward landing and a few steps into a double loop that gets lost in the air and she has a big fall-out, triple Salchow/double toe loop, triple toe loop a little forward again.
Middle slow section was especially nice even though Josee's skating isn't always the smoothest. Change foot on the combo spin was rough and had to hop on her toe pick, and it traveled. At the end, she really lost her speed and muscled her way through the footwork. This program was okay, but it didn't make nearly the impression that her short program did.

5.5 5.1 5.5 5.3 5.3 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.5
5.5 5.3 5.4 5.4 5.4 5.6 5.5 5.5 5.7

Moves into third, behind Kerrigan and Hubert. Eh.. this whole event is a mess!

Kristi Yamaguchi from the USA, leader after the short and reigning World and Olympic Champion. Music is Malaguena, and this is before it was completely overdone. Sandra Bezic, who was commentating on US television, choreographed this.
Triple Lutz/triple toe loop and she made it look easy even if her jumps are tiny, nice double Axel, steps into a nice triple flip, split jump into a triple toe loop, triple loop, down on the triple Salchow, nice triple Lutz near the end of the program!, Russian split into a double Axel.
She doesn't have the power and speed across the ice that some of the other ladies did at the time, but she had a great mix of technical ability and presentation as to where many of the others really excelled in one sense but not the other. She was lightyears ahead of most of the other ladies here, and she performed it well with just the one mistake on the Salchow that always gave her problems.

5.9 5.7 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.9 5.9 5.8
5.9 5.8 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9

All first place ordinals.

Lu Chen from China, 2nd after the short. Capriccio Espagnol.
Nice triple Lutz to start, triple toe loop/double toe loop, double Axel, spiral transition into a popped double loop that came down on two feet, doubled Lutz that got too close to the boards, double flip with no running edge, triple Salchow is nice, triple flip is done and steps into a double toe loop.
Stroking and carriage is sloppy at this point in her career (she's 15!), spins are decently centered but all simple and slow. Like in the short program, she has nice choreography but she doesn't really feel the music. It's one of those "I was told to move my arm like this so I will" type of things. Still skates with lots of speed and attack. Four triples and a string of doubled jumps in the middle of the program, not a complete disaster. She really progressed so much in the years that followed this.

5.6 5.2 5.2 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.4
5.5 5.1 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.5 5.5 5.4 5.8

Interesting once again-- the standings as of right now are Yamaguchi, Kerrigan, and Hubert.

And now Tonya Harding-Gillooly once again closes the show. Robin Hood.
Great triple Salchow to open, doubled Lutz, triple Axel attempt and a hard crash to the ice, double toe loop/double toe loop combination-- she had been doing triple/triple earlier in the season, double loop, triple Salchow again and can't really hold the landing edge, double Axel.
She changed the music arrangement around from Albertville and only had about three weeks to practice the new program. The commentators insist that it wasn't a good idea, and while I think this program works better than the random arrangements she previously had, it really lost all of its steam in the second half of this performance. However, she once again showed some of the best spins in the competition.

5.5 5.0 5.0 5.2 5.4 5.1 5.4 5.6 5.5
5.8 5.0 5.3 5.5 5.3 5.7 5.6 5.5 5.6

Harding-Gillooly ends up sixth. Chen moves ahead of Hubert for the bronze medal. Poor Laetitia. She was third until the final skater in the short program, and she had the bronze medal until the final skater in the free skate. Both times, that skater was Tonya!

Final standings:
1.) Yamaguchi; 2.) Kerrigan; 3.) Chen; 4.) Hubert; 5.) Chouinard; 6.) Harding-Gillooly; 7.) Claeys; 8.) Sato; 9.) Preston; 10.) Neske; 11.) Bonaly

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Alice Sue Claeys used to be a guest skater at a lot of my skating shows back in MN in the late 1980s early 90s. I completely forgot she went to worlds and ended up 7th! She had an amazing cantilever that I don't think she would do in a competitive program. I always remember she had a dress that looked like a wedding cake and skated to gone with the wind.