Tonya Harding at the 1993 U.S. National Championships

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by essence_of_soy, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. IceKween

    IceKween New Member

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    Frankly, the way Harding was skating in that 92/93 season, and coming off her disastrous Worlds, I was ready for new blood to go to Worlds in 93. Harding always had the potential, but by that time it seemed her mind, lifestyle, and body were betraying her skating. Had she TRIED in that LP at 93 Nats, maybe I'd have thought she deserved to go to Worlds. But she didn't. It was just same old same old that we'd seen for an entire year. So, even though I thought both Ervin and Kwiatkowski were inferior skaters to Harding, they at least seemed to be trying, and maybe a Worlds would give them a boost. Of course I fell in love with Nicole Bobek at that Nats and thought she should have been on the World team, bumping Kwiatkowski.
    I just figured USFSA wanted to give an early Valentine to Carol Heiss Jenkins. Her skaters showed up poised, sane, and trying. And I also don't think the USFSA was thinking Kerrigan was going to blow up at Worlds, so let's give the newbies a shot at earning experience on the world stage.
    I have the feeling that if Tonya did make the World team that year, she'd have shown up in even worse shape, and bungled it all up anyway. She needed a 'lesson' that year, o/w she was just going to do the same thing over and over again.
     
  2. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    I always thought Bobek was kept off the team by the U.S judges that year because of her nightmarish World Juniors, both as far as her skating (that 16th place finish in an event Ervin was 2nd) and her off ice behavior. Wasnt she arrested for raiding a mini bar at those Junior Worlds in Korea.

    I can totally see why Ervin made it that year. She was the only one to do almost a clean long program even without any of the harder triples, and she was very young and had been the U.S's top junior skater for years. Kwiatkowski is harder to figure. She didnt skate well at Nationals at all either, landing only 2 triples, taking a hard fall and making other mistakes. She was not really new, she was already a middle aged skater in her early 20s who did not have much future potential. She actually surprised me by hanging on another quad after the 94 season and being a late bloomer who went beyond what I thought was her potential in the 95-98 quad (which was still only a solid journeywomen type skater).
     
  3. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

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    Yes, that's why I put her in a second group. But IMO, her LP was good enough to beat a not perfect Harding (more likely to happen). ;)
     
  4. casken

    casken Well-Known Member

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    Yes, Harding was known as a technical skater, but she consistently pulled higher presentation marks in 91 and 92 than Bonaly. The international judges actually seemed to really liker her at the time. Her presentation marks went up over her technical ones in the sp at 91 worlds, and her program was the exact type that judges usually go down on presentation for.

    If she had skated at 93 worlds and done a clean a short and at least a 5 triple LP, I think she probably would have been second ahead of Bonaly, and at least third ahead of Chen, who the judges were still cool to at this point. The 3 axel probably would have got her the title.
     
  5. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Bonaly had absolutely horrible presentation in 91 and 92. Of course Harding got much higher presentation scores since her presentation was so much better at that point, and Bonaly is even less of a judges favorite than Harding to boot. Harding still wasnt a judges favorite in her career even when she had a much higher rep and status in 91-92. How she was scored at the 92 Olympics even for what she did relative to the other contenders is proof of that. Bonaly had improved her presentation a huge amount in the 93 season, probably the biggest single season improvement she had made. Bonaly did 7 triples, 2 triple lutzes, and a triple-triple combination at Worlds. No way does the U.S #2 skater Harding beat Bonaly's performance in Prague with just 5 triples, heck I am pretty sure she wouldnt have even beaten Chen with that despite the judges coolness to Chen. Baiul is the only one who would have been placed over Bonaly's triple packed program with just 5 triples, and perhaps Kerrigan. Remember all the USFSA backing would have been behind Kerrigan at Worlds even if Harding were there. Harding would have had to work for anything she got at Worlds and would have needed 6 or 7 triples to even hope to medal.

    A 3 axel for Harding at the 93 Worlds? She had landed maybe 1 triple lutz the entire season.
     
  6. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    Two things to note.

    Harding was working her way back to form. If you compare her performances from Skate Canada and the US Pro / Am to Nationals, she did far better in Phoenix. Also, comparing Harding (at her best) to Bonaly, is like comparing apples to well, bananas. Tonya could generate tremendous speed with just a few strokes, and she had deep edges as well. Surya's skating was very choppy, and needed to take a lot of strokes between elements.

    Also, Kerrigan really wasn't that much better than Harding at 93 Nationals, and as the No. 1 ranked skater in the country with a middling performance, this result was a factor in Kerrigan's attack in Detroit.
     
  7. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    I though Kerry Anne Thomas skated to the worst music in the history of skating for her short program in Phoenix. There must have been a gazillion music cuts, all awful.
     
  8. casken

    casken Well-Known Member

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    Well we were discussing "what if" situations, so I was doing just that. :)

    I still think if Harding managed to show up in shape and did two clean solid programs with at least Lutz/Flip/Loop/Sal/Toe/2Axel in the free she would have edged out Bonaly.
     
  9. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    Considering this scenario, then Nancy would have needed someone to crack Tonya on the knee to make sure she was the number one skater heading into Lillehammer.
     
  10. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    I think you are vastly overrating how the judges perceived Harding at that point in time, and would perceive her as the distant #2 U.S skater politically. You actually brought up an example from 1991 Worlds. Please dont tell me you actually believe Harding would have had the same respect and status from international judges in 1993 as she did going into the 1991 Worlds as the new U.S Champion (beating Kristi Yamaguchi). It was nothing the same by that point, international judges like National judges already considered her a skater on the way down. Harding didnt skate well at Skate Canada at all but that event is another example. At Skate Canada that season with 2 triples she couldnt even beat Chouinard with only 1 or Clays with 3, and when she did a clean short there with a double loop combination her marks were plunged all into the mid 4s for required elements (a skater seen as a leader would have been held up all in the low 5s). Then at NHK the next season didnt she skate a clean short and still be placed 7th in the short? Baiul who got far higher presentation score than Harding with just 5 triples would ever get at that point nearly still lost to Bonaly at those Worlds (should have lost to both Chen and Bonaly but anyway). As you said it is all speculation though.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2010
  11. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    I agree with that and that event showed in a huge way who was the USFSA #1 choice at that point, and was part of the rage boiling up inside Harding and her team. Harding probably would have had to do 6 triples to be placed over Kerrigan with only 3 at Nationals that year.
     
  12. Triple Butz

    Triple Butz Well-Known Member

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    LOVE Tonya, but I always laugh when I see her spiral. Despite how hideous the position was, she sure did love to hold it forever and put it into every program. It's like she was saying, "Look, I'm NOT Nancy!"
     
  13. casken

    casken Well-Known Member

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    But she won the short program over Bauil and Bonaly at 93 SA after not even making to 93 worlds and being only the 4th ranked US skater. Plus being US #2 didn't stop Yamaguchi from winning gold in 91, or being US #2 or even #3 didn't stop Kerrigan from making the podium in 91 and 92.

    Actually I always wanted to know what happened at 93 NHK. It was referenced in the Tonya/Nancy TV movie but there are no videos of the event anywhere online, nor are there any competition reports. I can't believe that Harding skated totally clean and only placed 7th considering she made two errors at the Olympics a few months later and came in 10th, unless 6 other skaters were squeaky clean at NHK.
     
  14. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Baiul did only a double lutz-double toe combo in the SP of Skate America and unless it was a real splatfest was probably gifted to even be 2nd. I dont remember Bonaly.

    Yamaguchi was never really the #2 U.S skater coming out of the 91 Nationals. At worst she was now co-#1 after Harding's big upset Nationals win, which remember Yamaguchi was the runaway U.S #1 going into. Even after that I suspect the USFSA still prefered Yamaguchi all things equal even at that point. Harding was not only a distant #2 to Kerrigan in the USFSA's eyes by 93 but a very distant one. That was made evident in countless ways throughout the season (the judging of Nationals, the USFSA cheesy pro ams, etc...).

    As for Kerrigan, well she got very lucky in the big events in 91 and 92 that everyone else except a couple skaters skated even worse than she did. Her luck ran out in a big way at the 93 Worlds though.
     
  15. neptune

    neptune Well-Known Member

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    I suspect that even Midori's skating would have looked outdated at '93 Worlds--it seemed that "power skating" was going out of vogue. At the same time, I think Tonya would have been better off staying with Dody Teachman. Barbara Flowers gave her some really interesting choreography IMO. Unfortunately, she passed away at the end of '93.

    I remember that this event was televised. Wasn't this the competition where Maria Butyrskaya made her big splash?

    What about Lalique? Did Tonya and Nancy each have only one int'l assignment that year?

    I think she stepped out of one of them. I remember that, during the broadcast, Dick said something like, "Tonya has decided to take the triple axel out of her program because of [can't remember the reason]. That was a very professional move on her part." I never really understood what he meant by that.

    I think the theme of '93 Nationals was: "Here, you take the national title, cuz I sure don't want it!" ;)

    Huh? The only person who knows whether she was trying is Tonya herself. And why would she not try? Having said that, I don't think her performance had much fire or inspiration.

    Well, to bump Kwiatkowski, Bobek might have needed a little help from Shawn Eckardt. ;)

    Actually, if she had skated her '96 Nationals performances the previous year, she might have won the national title IMO.

    I wonder how many more triples Tonya would've needed to land in her LP at '91 Worlds to win the title? I would think that two more would have done it. You really do have to strike while the iron is hot, and unfortunately, by the end of the '91-'92 season, Tonya had fallen out of favor. Still, the judges seemed to like her again at '93 Skate America.

    I think she was in pretty good favor up till '92. Her lackluster performances at '92 Nationals did not help at all, making her the lowest-ranked U.S. lady. Then she showed up late at the Olympics, and didn't give the impression that she was very disciplined or focused. If she had shown up at the Olympics early, schmoozed with Kristi and Nancy, and acted totally disciplined like a "good little girl," I think she would have gotten better marks from the judges.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2010
  16. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

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    I agree, but honestly, Tonya's skating - even at her best - was awful... :slinkaway
     
  17. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Agree completely.

    (Skate Canada 1992) Yes.

    The US lady was Tisha Walker, who finished 8th.

    Yes, one international plus they were the two "am" ladies at the pro-am.

    Wasn't it because she had a cold/asthma attack?

    If she wasn't getting them rotated or landed in practice/warmup, better to replace it in competition with something she had a better chance of landing.
     
  18. dr.frog

    dr.frog Well-Known Member

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    Button said that Harding took the triple axel out of her program because, since she was skating first, she didn't get the full 6-minute warmup and didn't think she had sufficient time to warm up the jump. Well, whatever. :rolleyes: Frankly, I just don't think she was well-trained enough to get through her program with a full set of triples, even without the axel.
     
  19. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    I agree. Or atleast they would have had to put her 2nd to Bobek and bump 14 year old Kwan off the World team. I suspect they might have had to give it to her though. She would have been the only one of the top 3 to skate either program cleanly and she would have done both cleanly in that case. It is interesting to wonder if Kwan would have still had the same reaction she did after not medaling at the 95 Worlds, to mature her skating by about 5 years, or if she would have just assumed she didnt make Worlds since she had a bad skate and not made that progress so quickly. Also would she even have had the reputation to become the top skater in the 95-96 season without even making it to the 95 Worlds vs coming 4th and creating all that buzz with those amazing performances and all the wuzrobbed cries.

    It is also intersting to wonder how Kwiatkowski might have fared at the 95 Worlds as the U.S Champion. Still from that point on the most she could have hoped to have been was a solid journeywomen skater. She really maxed out her potential as a skater at 96 Nationals and 96 Worlds and it was good enough for a U.S silver and a Worlds 8th place (wuzrobbed but that is what happens when you arent a 25 year old women who isnt a big name). I think that is about as far as she was going to go in the grand scheme of things, and I think she really did go on to maximize her potential as a skater. She even had a decent pro career for several years, which she would never have had if she retired after the 94 Nationals.
     
  20. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    Where did the term "journeywoman" come from?

    It makes Kwaitkowski sound like some dowdy spinster, when in fact, she was quite the multi - tasker, able to skate at the elite level and study in college like Debi Thomas and Paul Wylie.

    Tonia was such a terrifically - packaged skater. Loved the look, and the dedication.
     
  21. casken

    casken Well-Known Member

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    I think me and judgejudy have hit the "agree to disagree" point. Plus I'm kind of tipsy and want to make love not war. :D

    Anyway, I always wondered what would have happened had Kwiatkowski stood up on that triple flip in 95. She had two judges over Kwan even with the fall, so I'm sure she would have gotten at least the other three judges for second place. The judges *loved* Bobek, but two squeaky clean programs from Kwiatkowski would have been hard to deny for first, considering Bobek had mistakes in both programs.

    Tonia's success definitely came more from hard work than from natural talent or being a tiny jumper She did as well as probably can be expected. 98 Worlds was a bonus. It was frustrating to watch her lose out to whenever Bobek decided it was worth actually training for an event for a few weeks and then not bothering again.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2010
  22. neptune

    neptune Well-Known Member

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    Did she land a triple in the SP there?

    That I'm not sure about. I suspect she had at least one error, but who knows?

    I actually think Lisa Ervin should have won the LP that year.

    I don't understand why there seems to be zilch info about Tonya at this event. Although the USFSA magazine never had a write-up about her performance there, surely some skating publication, whether in English or Swahili ;), made reference to how she skated. Or surely some zealous skating fan out there took a few notes. I think someone told me once that Tonya's programs (or at least one of them) weren't televised on Japanese TV. But perhaps they were televised on European or Canadian TV. Anyway, it's so bizarre how nobody seems to know anything about this event. :(

    Was there a sixth international back then too, in Russia? I can't remember. But I do remember that the pro-am was not televised in my area (we got golf or something instead), so I've yet to see it. :)

    Did anybody see her land any triple axels in the practices, I wonder? I agree that she probably wasn't sufficiently trained.

    That's an interesting question. And I don't know how Kwiatkowski would've been received at '95 Worlds as U.S. champion. She might have been jittery too, because that would have been a lot of pressure for her to carry.

    Looking back, even though Tonya didn't really fulfill her potential, I think it's amazing that she achieved as much as she did, given her abject background. I can't think of a single Olympic champion who, if raised in Tonya's home, I think would still have become Olympic champion.
     
  23. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    I think what frustrates me about Tonya's performance at the 92 Olympic Trials, was that with her 3rd place result, the media labelled her lazy and untrained.

    In fact, during the practices I saw, she was hitting everything. It is just unfortunate that she landed a triple axel quite badly on the day of the short and hurt her ankle. After that, I was actually amazed she didn't withdraw because she was in quite a bit of pain for the remainder of that session.

    If Tonya had skated in Albertville the way she did at Skate America '91, I have no doubt she would have been the Olympic champion. It was the ladies' free program of the season.
     
  24. Morry Stillwell

    Morry Stillwell Well-Known Member

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    At Albertville, Tonya would not work even with Dody and the team leaders urging her to do so. She spent much of her practice time standing around and speaking with the press. When it came time to skate no one was surprised at her performance.
     
  25. casken

    casken Well-Known Member

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    There's a youtube vid of her doing a beautiful triple axel in the warm up for the sp, so she definitely looked ready for that event.

    eta: Morry, can you fill in any gaps on 93 NHK?
     
  26. Marco

    Marco Missing Ziggy

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    She fell on her riskiest element in both the sp and the lp, but she still landed 5 triples in her lp (even if shakily) and deserved the bronze more than Kerrigan IMO :shuffle:
     
  27. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    Definitely. I can't rewatch the 1992 Olympics without thinking how held up Kerrigan was. In the LP, Harding should have definitely placed ahead of her considering the content of their routines.

    I guess Kerrigan is a type of skater who you just had to appreciate during the time period because her skating does not hold up well at all. Wooden, stiff, choppy choreography, bad music cuts, and pageant-lite (dresses that nothing to do with the routines and tacked on pearly white smile and a bun that no more fitted Kerrigan's personality than some of the tacky costumes fitted on Tonya's out-of-shape body).
     
  28. CaptCrunch

    CaptCrunch New Member

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    About a year ago this event was covered in good detail when someone else had the same questions about Harding there.

    Harding had a disappointing Sp falling out of her 3lt combo and then for the next 10 seconds or so kept looking down at her skate blade thinking something was wrong with it. She continued on and finished the program. She might have had an error on a spin as well, can't remember all the details. She placed 7th which put her in the first group for the LP. She skated first in the LP and actually skated well landing, I think, 5 triples with, I think, only 1 combination (3t/2t maybe?). Judges trashed her giving her 4.7/48's pretty much across the board. The marks were shocking considering Harding was a former worlds silver medalist and that she had landed 5 triples. In a bad event her marks held up for 4th in the LP and 4th overall.
     
  29. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    The 92 Olympics was a case where any of Kristi, Tonya, or Midori would have won with even close to their best performances. Kristi ended up winning by skating the least bad of the 3. Heck even Nancy might have won with her Lillehammer performance. It was such a huge dissapointment with all the expectations of how well Tonya, Midori, and Kristi, could all skate, and the overall depth of the field, it could have been the greatest ladies event in history had everyone delivered.

    I agree Tonya would have killed it and won easily with her Skate America performances given how the others all skated. I think she would have even been placed 3rd in the SP with the fall on the double axel since she did land a triple axel combo, I cant imagine how they would have placed her below Midori falling on a triple lutz and having no combo in this case; nor below Bonaly's so so skate.
     
  30. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info. It is a shame those type of events were never covered more back then. Didnt Chen and Bonaly both fall in the short and place 4th and 3rd in that phase though? I heard none of the favorites skated well at that event.