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  1. #1

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    Retrospective: The 1979 World Championships

    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:-

    Mens

    Gold: Vladimir Kovalev - USSR

    Free Skate

    Silver: Robin Cousins - GBR

    Free Skate

    Bronze: Jan Hoffmann - East Germany

    Free Skate

    Ladies

    Gold: Linda Fratianne - USA

    Free Skate

    Silver: Anett Pötzsch - East Germany

    Free Skate

    Bronze: Emi Watanabe - JPN

    Free Skate

    5th: Denise Biellmann - Switzerland

    Free Skate

    Pairs

    Gold: Tai Babilonia & Randy Gardner - USA

    Long Program

    Silver: Marina Cherkasova & Sergei Shakhrai - USSR

    Long Program

    Bronze: Sabine Baeß & Tassilo Thierbach - East Germany

    Long Program

    Ice Dance

    Gold: Natalia Linichuk & Gennadi Karponosov - USSR

    Free Dance

    Silver: Krisztina Regőczy & András Sallay - Hungary

    Free Dance

    Bronze: Irina Moiseeva & Andrei Minenkov - USSR

    Free Dance

    Hope you enjoy!!
    Last edited by Maofan7; 09-21-2011 at 12:11 AM.

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    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.

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    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? 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

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    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).

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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    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? 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

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    ^^^
    Once again, may I suggest manleywoman's skatecast, where Charlie Tickner discusses this.

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    Another thing I will always remember about this timeframe are the many horrendous music cuts / musical choices

    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.

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    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.

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    Charlie's LP:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mackRVeCqhI

    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.

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    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.
    Last edited by judgejudy27; 09-21-2011 at 08:02 PM.

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    Here is the LP from Baess & Thierbach complete with marks:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysx_n7B2eDU

    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 See his interview here with Phyllis George in 1977:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_zezkBaJNw

    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.

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    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.

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    few observations: Apparently, Laura Wighton and John Dowding's Free Dance 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)

    The men may have struggled with the 2 flip - 3 toe in the short program, but Sanda Dubravcic had no problems with the combination 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.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    ..... 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

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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    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
    Interestingly, factored placements actually would have helped Jan Hoffmann win Olympic gold if 30-20-50 for the 3 segments was set in place in 1980:

    Jan Hoffmann: 1-2-2 = 0.6+0.8+2.0 = 3.4
    Robin Cousins: 4-1-1 = 2.4+0.4+1.0 = 3.8

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    I've been amused and surprised by Dagmar Lurz. She has an awful Flutz, almost worse than Tara Lipinski, Nicole Bobek, Sasha Cohen or Sarah Hughes :

    Dagmar Lurz 1979 Worlds LP

    And Robin Cousins was just so beautiful !

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