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View Full Version : Katarina Witt & Midori Ito: A Rivalry That Went Mostly Under The Radar



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Maofan7
03-09-2012, 12:15 AM
When you think of who Katarina Witt's main rivals were, you usually think of Rosalynn Sumners, Debi Thomas, Liz Manley, and a few others. However, one skater who is mentioned less often, is Midori Ito. This is because, in major competitions, such as Worlds and Olympics, Ito was left so far behind after the school figures, that she did not pose a serious risk in terms of beating Katarina (a secondary factor was that Midori twice broke her ankle, in 1983 and 1985, and this prevented her from competing for long periods). However, that was not always the case in other competitions. In a few competitions during the 1980's, held before the scrapping of the school figures, there were no compulsory figures, and these competitions were therefore determined on just the short and long programs. It was on these rare occasions, during the 1983-88 period, that Midori did present a real threat to Katarina. The three most notable examples of such competitions, which really brought out the Katarina/Midori rivalry, were:-


The Ennia Challenge Cup 1983
The 1986 NHK Trophy
The 1987 NHK Trophy


All 3 competitions had the following features:-


The technical content of Midori's programs was well ahead of its time, and superior to that of Katarina's
In the view of the Judges, the artistry/presentation of Katarina's programs was sufficient to put Katarina ahead of Midori overall. Hence, Katarina won all 3 competitions. However, the results were at the time, and remain so to this day, controversial.


The Ennia Challenge Cup 1983 marked Midori's senior international debut. The technical content of her LP was to say the least, astonishing for its time - 6 triples (3Z, 3T, 3T, 3F, 3S, 3R). The end result was very close, but Katarina just edged it. Unfortunately, there are no videos online relating to this event.

The 1986 NHK Trophy was also a close result. This is Midori Ito's SP (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1hLc7x3SsE). No other videos available.

The closest of the 3 competitions, however, was the 1987 NHK Trophy. Midori was 1st after the SP, with katarina 3rd behind Tonya Harding in 2nd. Midori then put in an amazing performance in the FS, with technical content way superior to that of Katarina's Carmen (which, in my view, was one of katarina's weakest programs from a technical perspective. However, as artistry back then was better rewarded than it is today under COP, the program was clearly designed to clean up on the artistic impression marks. Katarina and Jutta Müller, I think, took a gamble with this program in terms of calculating that any deficit on the technical merit marks, could be made up with the artistic impression scores). Katarina won the free skate (with Midori in 2nd), and the competition. The factored placements were 2.2 to Katarina, and 2.4 to Midori.

Here are the videos for the 1987 NHK Trophy:-

Katarina Witt - Short Program (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrHE7Fgtdl8)

Katarina Witt - Free Skate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTbNo_qHIZI)

Midori Ito - Short Program (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TgQaLmVm9I)

Midori Ito - Free Skate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdjHYm921QE)

Hence, in competitions with no compulsories, Midori well and truly showed that she was a serious threat to Katarina during a period in which Katarina won 2 Olympic titles and 4 world titles. Controversial results in all 3 of the aforementioned competitions. What do you think?

Susan M
03-09-2012, 02:13 AM
When you think of who Katarina Witt's main rivals were, you usually think of Rosalynn Sumners, Debi Thomas, Liz Manley, and a few others. However, one skater who is mentioned less often, is Midori Ito.

That's probably because they were not really rivals. Ito was just a young, upcoming skater, never a threat to take a World or Olympic title away from Witt. Between her poor showings in figures and lesser presentation marks, she wasn't a threat to Witt, and that's what it takes to make a rivalry.

Ito's wonderful skates at Calgary really announced her presence as a contender for the next quadrennium (when Witt would be safely retired from ISU competition and busy making money).

bardtoob
03-09-2012, 02:46 AM
At the very least, Midori was no rival to Katarina because of the "wait your turn" institution of figure skating.

In real time, I was under the impression that Midori, Trenary, and the other up and comers would have take over, and that stage was set by Midori winning in 1989.

Of course, the landscape was flattened by the death of figures. Yamaguchi would have probably stayed in pairs with Galindo became her figures were not good enough to keep her out of a insurmountable hole on the World stage in singles while she was setting technically difficulty records in pairs with SBS 3F.

judgejudy27
03-09-2012, 02:58 AM
At the very least, Midori was no rival to Katarina because of the "wait your turn" institution of figure skating.

In real time, I was under the impression that Midori, Trenary, and the other up and comers would have take over, and that stage was set by Midori winning in 1989.

Of course, the landscape was flattened by the death of figures. Yamaguchi would have probably stayed in pairs with Galindo became her figures were not good enough to keep her out of a insurmountable hole on the World stage in singles while she was setting technically difficulty records in pairs with SBS 3F.

How good would Yamaguchi-Galindo have been as a pair. At the 1990 Worlds they didnt look close at all to the top 4 pairs, yet the very next year in a weaker field Kuchiki-Sand won the bronze and I dont think they would have passed Yamaguchi-Galindo unless they fell off.

If figures were there to stay wouldnt Kristi have worked her butt off to improve them though. I always got the impression she knew they would be gone after the 1990 Worlds so didnt bother with them much. Plus at the 1990 Worlds she seemed to be much stronger a medal contender in ladies than in pairs, even with her horrible figures. She was in mathematical contention for the gold going into the LP if Midori didnt have her best skate, and she probably would have won the bronze and denied Jill the gold to Ito had she not had an unusually bad long program.

bardtoob
03-09-2012, 03:09 AM
Yamaguchi did not spend a whole lot of time on figures because she was also training pairs.

US pairs have rarely ever competed for more than 3rd on the World stage, and, at that time, behind two Soviet teams.

However, my real point was about the "WAIT YOUR TURN" institution. The figures-no figures issue just coincided with Ito's rise.

kukkura
03-09-2012, 04:39 PM
Although she never beat Witt, Ito was a major threat. She was such a special skater that she had the potential to make the skating world want to re-evaluate the whole judging system. That of course never happened, but I'm sure many were left wondering what if.

Vash01
03-09-2012, 04:48 PM
Ito was never really a rival to Katarina for two reasons:

1.Weak in school figures. She was expected to dominate after the elimination of school figures, but she managed to place 3rd in figures in 89, and won the world title. By that time Katarina had retired.

2.Those days ladies were expected to be 'ladylike', which Katarina was. Not Midori. She could have challenged the men.

It was great to see Midori get 5.9s mostly across the board after her terrific LP at the 1988 Olympics, but she was never in medal contention.

briancoogaert
03-09-2012, 07:41 PM
I still don't understand 1987 NHK Trophy. Midori Ito should have won it easily, IMO.

matti
03-09-2012, 10:05 PM
Ito was never really a rival to Katarina for two reasons:

1.Weak in school figures. She was expected to dominate after the elimination of school figures, but she managed to place 3rd in figures in 89, and won the world title. By that time Katarina had retired.

I think she was 6th in the compulsories, then won both the OP (short) and the FP (long). She may have been higher in the first figure, she often succumbed to nerves in the loop figure.

Rule changes prior to the 1988-89 season made the artistic impression mark the tie-breaker in the free programme. Certain quarters were clearly afraid of Midori...

DarrellH
03-09-2012, 10:18 PM
Witt would have just stared her down from the boards during Ito's performances.

falling_dance
03-09-2012, 10:54 PM
I still don't understand 1987 NHK Trophy. Midori Ito should have won it easily, IMO.

I wonder if the skate order helped Witt slightly. In terms of content, she delivered a performance that was "good enough" for an autumn event and Ito's step out of the 3t in combination justified not giving her a 6.0 for technical merit. On the other hand, it's clear that it wouldn't have made a difference with judge #4, who awarded Witt and Ito the same(!) mark for technical merit (5.7)...

judgejudy27
03-10-2012, 12:05 AM
Witt fell in the short program at that event and should have been 4th in the short behind Nancy Kerrigan who skated a very nice short program. She shouldnt have even been in position to win by winning the long program, which she didnt deserve to win anyway. Not sure if I would have even had her beating Harding at that event. Definitely got a Champions boost.

falling_dance
03-10-2012, 12:58 AM
Witt didn't fall in the short at 1987 NHK, but the second half of her planned 3t2r combination (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrHE7Fgtdl8&t=48s) was entirely unsuccessful.

essence_of_soy
03-10-2012, 02:40 AM
Talk about a preview into the future of ladies' skating for the next quaddrenium.

Ito and Harding were really good at this competition.

LilJen
03-10-2012, 03:05 AM
Witt would have just stared her down from the boards during Ito's performances.

And Ito would have launched a huge jump to land out of the boards and squash her. :lol: