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  1. #1

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    Question Punsalan/Swallow's 'mysterious' 1992 FD

    I was transferring some of my early-90s ice-dance tapes the other day and was wondering if anybody remembered any details of P/S's "Tribute to the Olympics" FD from 1992 Nationals? I was overseas, so did not go to Nationals that year & only got the broadcast tape from family which, as we all know, did not include 3rd-place finishers ('91 champs) P/S. Only Sargent/Witherby & Mayer/Breen were shown.

    Questions:

    1. Did P/S skate their FD at any competition other than '92 Natls? (They performed their famous "Race" FD at '91 Skate America)

    2. Does the program exist on tape/DVD? (It's doesn't seem to be on YouTube -- I've checked)

    3. Does anyone who saw it 'live' remember it? Was it that bad and/or disrespectful of the rules???

    This mystery FD fascinates me, mostly because there's so little info on it.
    Dick Button Historical Quote of the Month: "Good for you, Lucinda Ruh!"

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    I've often wondered about this program too and have never seen it. I was not at Nationals that year but as I recall, they fell during the program. Whether that determined their placement or there was some other factor is hard to know. I felt that Mayer and Breen were an absolute embarrassment at the Olympics and wished they sent Punsalen and Swallow anyway.

    I also seem to recall some gossip/scuttlebut that judges thought their "Olymic" theme was a bit pretentious (i.e., it was as if P/S were acting under the assumption that they would be on the Olympic team).

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwizzlerS View Post
    I've often wondered about this program too and have never seen it. I was not at Nationals that year but as I recall, they fell during the program. Whether that determined their placement or there was some other factor is hard to know.
    I know that in fluff pieces after the fact, the fall was often presented as a reason for not making the Olympic team, but when I finally saw the broadcast of the event, I was surprised to see that Mayer and Breen were ahead of Punsalan & Swallow after the OD so I'm inclined to think that the fall was unlikely to have been the only factor. Whether it was politics or legitimate is impossible to say without having seen any of the CD, OD or Punsalan & Swallow's FD, but I do find Mayer & Breen's meteoric rise in 1992 and (IIRC) dumping in 1993 a little bit suspicious, especially compared with the success that Punsalan & Swallow had before and after 1992.

  4. #4

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    I'm trying to locate a video of it.
    If anyone has one, please let me know.

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    I attended the 1992 US Nationals in Orlando and remember Punsalan and Swallow's Olympic tribute free dance pretty well. Like their program, The Race, from the previous year, it was a very experimental, fast - paced dance, with a lot of clever and innovative moves.

    Most of the other teams that night, if I recall correctly, danced programs that were both safe, classical and conservative. If a pair like the Duchesnays or Torvill and Dean had tried this, no one would have blinked an eye.

    Why they probably didn't make the team is during one of their moves, where Jerod holds Liz between his legs and she is outstretched like an athlete doing luge, they actually fell in this move. Even though the mistake was in keeping with the program like their final crash the previous season, here it was a hard error to cover.

    I also remember that there was no clear leader between the top five couples in the final flight after the first two phases of the event, and Punsalan and Swallow may have come fourth in the free dance, causing Meyer and Breen to move up to silver.

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    Oh skategods, have mercy. That free dance was four minutes of my life that I'll never get back and I've lived happily for many years without being reminded of it.

    It wasn't that bad. It was just... weird.

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    I'd also like to see this program--just from the descriptions, it sounds fascinating.

    I've always thought it was unfortunate that the U.S. judges dumped P&S at 92 Nationals. I know they fell, but they created such a buzz in 1991, and not making the 92 team killed the momentum they were building with the international judges.

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    Didn't they also switch coaches that year????
    "awwww....shades of Janet Lynn" - Dick Button on anyone who makes more than one mistake in their program.

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    Thanks SO MUCH for the answers/feedback to my questions, all!

    Yes, they had switched coaches...but I believe that they did it after the '92 Nationals disaster, not before. From Wikipedia:

    Punsalan and Swallow were initially coached by Sandy Hess in Colorado Springs. In 1992, they began working with Igor Shpilband for choreography in Detroit. By the 1993-1994 season, he had become their head coach.[2]

    So it appears that Shpilband was part of their comeback in the 93/94 season. (Early signs of the Shpilband Magic Touch!) They regained their US crown just before the 94 Olys...at the Nationals where Roca/Sur pulled out due to injury.
    Last edited by Frau Muller; 09-02-2011 at 04:34 PM.
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    Didn't Ledin video tape 92 Nationals or did the USFSA use some other company instead that year?

    I was in Orlando but skipped the free dance which was my norm back in the day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptCrunch View Post
    Didn't Ledin video tape 92 Nationals or did the USFSA use some other company instead that year?...
    Indeed they used Ledin, capt, but the tapes are no longer available commercially and most 'vid sources' out there have all events OTHER than Dance. So you weren't alone in passing-by the dancers in those days.
    Dick Button Historical Quote of the Month: "Good for you, Lucinda Ruh!"

  12. #12
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    Mayer & Breen - I have never heard of this team but I looked up their results and either, they only went to nationals once, or the results are incomplete. Their record is kind of blank. Interesting that they made it to Olys.

    Did some googling and found this article. Can't help but draw comparisons to Nancy Kerrigan's brother/father confrontation. It mentions the FD:
    "This is the first Olympics for the newlyweds, who took their vows Labor Day weekend. In 1992, they were one of the favorites to go to Albertville. They did an innovative long program in which they danced their way through all the Olympic sports.

    On a complicated slide move to demonstrate the luge, Punsalan slipped, and the two missed the Olympics by one place. Swallow was angry and ready to turn pro. Punsalan persuaded him to give the Olympics one more try. So they did. They made it."
    Last edited by leafygreens; 09-07-2011 at 02:27 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leafygreens View Post
    Mayer & Breen - I have never heard of this team but I looked up their results and either, they only went to nationals once, or the results are incomplete. Their record is kind of blank. Interesting that they made it to Olys.
    They were 6th at 1991 Nationals. I don't know about anything before that.

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    Breen came back with another partner and won bronze at Nationals in 97 before dropping back to 5th in 98 and then retiring.

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    I remember that Mayer and Breen told of financial problems that caused them to end their skating career.

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    Quote Originally Posted by casken View Post
    Breen came back with another partner and won bronze at Nationals in 97 before dropping back to 5th in 98 and then retiring.
    I can't remember Breen's next partner's name. Kate something? But, I do remember Dick Button calling her a pre-Raphaelite beauty or something like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwizzlerS View Post
    I can't remember Breen's next partner's name. Kate something? But, I do remember Dick Button calling her a pre-Raphaelite beauty or something like that.
    Kate Robinson...she and Breen were Shpilband's 5th team at the 1998 Nationals. And they placed 5th.

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    I was also at 1992 Nationals. I also remember being surprised by Mayer/Breen. I assumed it would be Punsalan/Swallow. I was rooting for Miley/Verlich. I do remember thinking that the program and the way they presented it (weren't the costumes gold?) came across like they assumed they were going to the Olympics.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.H.Black View Post
    I do remember thinking that the program and the way they presented it (weren't the costumes gold?) came across like they assumed they were going to the Olympics.
    We can't have that, can we? Perhaps they were harshly judged for the fall as retaliation? However, Tanith Belbin did some kind of modeling for Olympic attire before she made the team in 2010. She had to make some kind of statement saying she respects the Olympics and does not assume she made the team. That was before the competition though when she had time to redeem herself with a statement - P/S didn't have that luxury I guess.

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    We can't have that, can we? Perhaps they were harshly judged for the fall as retaliation?
    I prefer to think of it this way. When an athlete has an assumption of making the Olympic Team - either consciously or unconsciously - it tends to flavor their performance. I wonder if the fall would have happened if they had had a different mindset.

    This is all just my speculation, of course. It is only my memory of my impressions of something that happened nearly 20 years ago.

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