View Full Version : Retrospective: The 1979 World Championships

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09-21-2011, 12:02 AM
Next up on the retrospective on World Championships in the lead up to the 2012 World Championships is the 1979 World Championships.

The low down on the key facts from these championships is as follows:-

The fierce rivalry between Potzsch and Fratianne enters its third year - this time Fratianne came out on top.

Vladimir Kovalev regains the world title (in a thriller, in a very closely fought 4 way competition with Cousins, Hoffmann, and Tickner), having won the title previously at the 1977 Worlds and having finished a disappointing fourth in 1978. Kovalev would enter the 1980 season as the favourite for the Olympic title (having won silver at the 1976 Olympics behind John Curry). However, he ended up having an absolute nightmare season and withdrew from the Olympic competition after only finishing 5th in the school figures.

With Rodnina and Zaitsev missing from the 1979 Worlds, Tai Babilonia & Randy Gardner stepped up to take the pairs title. This made Babilonia and Gardner the favourites for the 1980 Olympic title. However, Gardner was injured during the 1980 season and they had to withdraw from the Olympic competition. Babilonia was the first figure skater of Afro-American descent to win U.S. and World titles in figure skating.

Natalia Linichuk & Gennadi Karponosov, having dethroned Irina Moiseeva & Andrei Minenkov as world champions the previous year, retained their world title. Indeed, they were the only gold medallists from the 1978 championships to retain their title. They would go on to become Olympic champions the following year, but surprisingly failed to retain their world title at the 1980 World Championships. Consequently, they became the only ice dancers to ever fail to retain their world title after having won the Olympics.

Yet again, Denise Biellmann is held back by the school figures. Despite another fine free skate, she fails to win a medal and finished fifth. Nevertheless, her performance was not as good overall as the previous years as she could only finish 10th in the short program after suffering a fall. Still, had there been no school figures, she would have won the silver.

Emi Watanabe became the first Japanese ladies singles figure skater to win a medal at worlds in these championships, inspiring Midori Ito in the process

Here are the videos from these championships of the gold, silver, & bronze medal winning performances from all 4 disciplines:-


Gold: Vladimir Kovalev - USSR

Free Skate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2DP9LCrXQE)

Silver: Robin Cousins - GBR

Free Skate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fHV9agpayQ)

Bronze: Jan Hoffmann - East Germany

Free Skate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4sqw04PLPY)


Gold: Linda Fratianne - USA

Free Skate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u8s-a1KSLo)

Silver: Anett Pötzsch - East Germany

Free Skate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCesUkLJKA0)

Bronze: Emi Watanabe - JPN

Free Skate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsFPZKLJ3dA)

5th: Denise Biellmann - Switzerland

Free Skate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6q9dMY_FjE)


Gold: Tai Babilonia & Randy Gardner - USA

Long Program (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63cmIfO-u6k)

Silver: Marina Cherkasova & Sergei Shakhrai - USSR

Long Program (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSp_pl5B6Xk)

Bronze: Sabine Baeß & Tassilo Thierbach - East Germany

Long Program (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLCR2QSZwmw)

Ice Dance

Gold: Natalia Linichuk & Gennadi Karponosov - USSR

Free Dance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iidauF7jDPM)

Silver: Krisztina Regőczy & András Sallay - Hungary

Free Dance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnJHnxS1OEs)

Bronze: Irina Moiseeva & Andrei Minenkov - USSR

Free Dance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BY8ud11g0c8)

Hope you enjoy!!

09-21-2011, 12:17 AM
The funny thing is looking at the scores I think this might have been the one year for Poetzsch to have not only won but even won the free skate portion over Fratianne had she skated cleanly.

It is impressive how Baess & Theirbach were medalling at Worlds already way back then.

I thought Kovalev was scored too highly for his peformance which looked far inferior to even Hoffmann's and yet scored quite close to it. If he were scored correctly Cousins probably would have won overall.

It is also dissapointing to see Sallay & Regoczy did not win the free dance portion atleast. Their performance was by far the best IMHO.

09-21-2011, 03:41 AM
I seem to remember that Fratianne's LP was too long and the last element or two didn't count? She still won, though. Interestingly, Fratianne would perform better in all 3 phases at Lake Placid and still lose to Poetzsch

I also seem to recall that Poetzsch was a disaster in the LP.

What happened to '78 World Champ, Tickner. Off the podium? :yikes: Must've been pretty bad!

B/G had upped the tech content of their LP and it paid off: US world champs for the first time since '50

09-21-2011, 04:44 AM
Tickner did not do well in the SP, and he did not do as well in figures as Kovalev and Hoffmann. He skated very well in the LP but was still placed by Cousins who was usual dominated the LP, and could not quite pass Hoffmann who also had a very good LP (while Kovalev coasted off his figures and SP lead to win with his mediocre outclassed LP).

09-21-2011, 01:11 PM
I seem to remember that Fratianne's LP was too long and the last element or two didn't count? She still won, though. Interestingly, Fratianne would perform better in all 3 phases at Lake Placid and still lose to Poetzsch

I also seem to recall that Poetzsch was a disaster in the LP.

What happened to '78 World Champ, Tickner. Off the podium? :yikes: Must've been pretty bad!

B/G had upped the tech content of their LP and it paid off: US world champs for the first time since '50

Had a poor SP and school figures

09-21-2011, 01:35 PM
Once again, may I suggest manleywoman's skatecast, where Charlie Tickner discusses this.

09-21-2011, 02:24 PM
Another thing I will always remember about this timeframe are the many horrendous music cuts / musical choices :lol:

OK, watched Kovalev's LP. I have to admit I've never bothered to watch him before and was struck by what I saw - Kira Ivanova in a man's body.

09-21-2011, 05:41 PM
Kovalev was nice to look at, but his skating was horrendous. I think I counted four spins, all that were less than six revolutions and with terrible positions. Yuck. And choreo was pretty nonexistant too. Cousins was excellent as expected.

09-21-2011, 06:24 PM
Charlie's LP:


It took me ages to find a copy that was uploadable so it hasn't been around as long as the others on fsvids and youtube. I do have a complete LP of Baess & Thierbach so I'll upload that this weekend. They did a throw triple loop IIRC.

The mens event was yet again the highlight of these championships. Charlie actually put his free foot down on one figure. The mens SP was a disaster. 1979 was one of those years where the prescribed jump was a double flip so most of the top guys were trying 2f/3t combo's. It was just one of those afternoons where nearly everyone made mistakes. Cousins, Tickner, Igarashi and goodness knows who else fell, Hoffmann singled the flip IIRC? Kovalev and Scott Cramer went clean and it is this which explains why Kovalev won more than his free skate marks - although I agree he was overmarked here. Also interesting is that it is the SP combo that got Cramer to Worlds over Scott Hamilton. Cramer was finding the combo easy while Hamilton struggled with it all season long, including Nationals where he lost to Cramer.

Ladies was pretty blah at the top. Watanabe won bronze with a far inferior performance to the one she delivered at 1980 Worlds where she didn't medal but really should have. Annet had put on weight and it wreaked havok on her shaky jump technique. Lisa-Marie Allen didn't skate as well as she shoudl have and Vodorezova was out with her arthritic problems. Biellmann's skate is notable for the triple loop. While she maybe did it in other competitions, this is the only known footage of it that I have seen. She did not attempt the triple loop at Worlds or Olympics after this.

Dance was also great - lots of very interesting programs including T&D's Slaughter on Tenth Ave and the Canadians doing a very classical FD to Swan Lake which was very avant garde for the time.

09-21-2011, 07:56 PM
It is interesting how at the 1980 Olympics Kovalev withdrew after placing 5th in figures. Did he just figure if he was behind Hoffmann, Tickner, and even Cousins in figures he had no chance at a medal anymore as he was never going to pass them in free skating so pulled out, or was he injured.

I am surprised one judge gave him a 5.9 for technical merit. Did he really deserve a mark that high, I didnt think so.

Olympics's comment was funny and so accurate.

09-21-2011, 08:03 PM
Here is the LP from Baess & Thierbach complete with marks:


ETA: Regarding Kovalev; the official line was that he had flu, but Kovalev was a very temperamental character who liked to party and didn't always follow the soviets rules. He was suspended from international competition for the 1973 season. It's not out of the realms of possibility that he threw a sufficiently bad hissy fit after figures for the team to withdraw him, or maybe he really did have the flu - it was pretty bad in Lake Placid for Olympic flu - and just skated some crappy figures? For sure he was done for after that placement. There was no way he could medal with Cousins, Hoffmann and Tickner already ahead.

All that said, I know his skating sucked but he really was just soooooo handsome :swoon: See his interview here with Phyllis George in 1977:

ETA 2: Not sure how Baess & Thierbach ended up with the bronze medal. They were 4th in the SP and 3rd in the LP for 3rd overall. Vorobieva & Lisovsky landed sbs triple sals at this event and Pestova & Leonovich also skated a clean LP with a triple axel twist and were mired in 5th place.

09-22-2011, 03:14 AM
Legend has it that a reporter asked Kovalev at the Olympic press conference the following question: "Aside from the fact that you are the best-looking male skater in the competition, do you think you have what it takes to win here?" Apparently, Kovalev stormed out.

09-22-2011, 03:40 AM
few observations: Apparently, Laura Wighton and John Dowding's Free Dance (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nqps5XDyXZs) from the 1979 World Championships was attributed as the first "one theme" free dance - is that really true?

Vern Taylor perhaps missed out on a 1980 Olympics spot due to Brian Pockar's 13th place finish (and incidentally placed much higher than Brian in the Long Program (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKE1TiXj_24))

The men may have struggled with the 2 flip - 3 toe in the short program, but Sanda Dubravcic had no problems with the combination (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xiukwqGxw4) in her short program

Emi Watanabe had a much better free skate at the 1980 World Championships (3rd in the segment), yet finished 4th there and 3rd here. Another strange result when total judges' scores are being used.

09-22-2011, 04:29 AM
Emi was only able to medal at the 79 Worlds since Lurz totally bombed her LP. Unfortunately skaters like Poetzsch and Lurz were almost guaranteed their destined placings (Poetzsch a gold medal, Lurz a medal) due to their huge figures leads, unless they totally bombed in the free skating, which both sometimes did. Even with their uninspiring free skating capabilities they controlled their own destiny more or less. The same was often true of Kovalev in fact. The post 1980 scoring format was too long in coming.

09-22-2011, 12:55 PM
..... The post 1980 scoring format was too long in coming.

I was just going to say that Fratianne only getting silver AND Biellmann finishing off the podium are 2 reasons that the scoring was revamped