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  1. #1

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    Retrospective: The 1968 Olympics

    This retrospective features the 1968 Olympics Ladies competition - probably one of the most iconic Olympic figure skating events in history.

    The key facts are:-

    • Peggy Fleming wins the United States first Olympic gold medal since the Sabena Flight 548 air disaster which killed the entire US figure skating team (which was on its way to the 1961 World Championships) on the 15th February 1961. Fleming was only 12 years old at the time of the crash and her coach, Bill Kipp, was one of those who was killed. He was on the flight as he was also the coach to Dona Lee Carrier and Roger Campbell, and Rhode Lee Michelson, who were scheduled to compete at 1961 Worlds. As Nikki Nichols recounted in her book, Frozen in Time: "As the 1964 Nationals approached, the field still looked thin....Then, out of the shadows....Peggy Fleming....burst onto the scene, winning her first national championship at age fifteen. The title of national champion would belong to her for five more years." Fleming finished 6th at the 1964 Olympics (skating with a high fever) and then moved from California to Colorado Springs to train with her new coach, Carlo Fassi. He helped her to improve her school figures. She then won bronze at 1965 Worlds and a year later, in 1966, she became the world champion (a title she retained in both 1967 and 1968). In 1994, Sports Illustrated said of her 1968 Olympic gold medal winning performance: "She launched figure skating's modern era, Pretty and balletic, elegant and stylish, Fleming took a staid sport that was shackled by its inscrutable compulsory figures and arcane scoring system and, with television as her ally, made it marvelously glamorous." The same year, the magazine also named her one of its 40 individuals who had had the greatest impact on sport during the previous 40 years. Nikki Nichols concluded in Frozen in Time, that Fleming's victory "signalled that the [United States's] recovery [from the 1961 air disaster] was now complete."
    • Gaby Seyfert won the silver medal. She was coached by her mother, Jutta Müller, who would go on to coach 1980 Olympic champion, Anett Pötzsch, and 1984 & 1988 Olympic champion, Katarina Witt. After the 1968 Olympics, Seyfert went on to win the 1969 and 1970 World Championships, after which she retired. Had she not retired in 1970, she would almost certainly have been the favourite to win the 1972 Olympics. The reasons for her retirement are unclear, but were discussed recently in this thread here. The answer may be contained in her autobiography which I recently obtained a copy of. Its in German and no English language version was ever released. Hence, as my German is very poor, it will be some time before I find a possible answer in there!
    • Hana Maskova won the Bronze medal. Known for her jumping ability, like Seyfert she had the artistry to go with it. Sadly, she was killed in a car crash just 4 years later on the 31st March 1972 in France and was buried in prague. This article here contains an interesting account of her life. Somewhat chillingly, another great Czech skater, Pavel Roman had also been killed in a car crash just two months earlier on the 30th January 1972.
    • Just outside the medals in 4th place was Tina Noyes. Trained by Cecelia Colledge, Noyes had finished 8th at the 1964 Olympics and had finished 2nd four times behind Peggy Fleming at US Nationals. She now coaches at the Hayden Recreation Centre in Lexington. Like Fleming, Noyes skated in an era dominated by the aftermath of the 1961 air disaster. Indeed, in a 2001 interview with the Boston Globe, she recalled that during her early years as a novice and junior skater, due to the need to get US figure skating back on its feet, "There was a lot of publicity given to the junior and novice skaters...There were a lot of high expectations, a tremendous amount of pressure. [Barbara Roles] coming back was really huge....I remember when she came into the Skating Club to practice. Everything just stopped. It was almost like looking at a ghost.''
    • Trixie Schuba finished 5th, Karen Magnussen 7th, and Janet Lynn 9th.

    Here are the medal winning performances:-

    1968 Olympics - Ladies Competition

    Gold: Peggy Fleming - USA

    Free Skate

    Free Skate - 2nd Version

    Free Skate - 3rd Version

    Silver: Gabriele Seyfert - East Germany

    Free Skate

    Bronze: Hana Maskova - Czechoslovakia

    Free Skate - short clip at beginning of video

    If anybody knows of the whereabouts of a complete copy of the program on the net, do post a link to it.

    4th: Albertina Noyes - USA

    Free Skate

    9th: Janet Lynn - USA

    Free Skate
    Last edited by Maofan7; 01-21-2012 at 10:32 PM.

  2. #2
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    Fleming had it sewed up with the figures. IINM she had a huuuge lead and just had to not completely melt down to win. She won the freeskate (as it it mattered) but it was one of her weakest senior free skates (and IINM recycled from previous years).

    But for an audience that wasn't technically astute that didn't matter. She looked lovely and photogenic and that's all that mattered. She actually became a much better (and technically accomplished) free skater as a pro than she ever was as an amateur.

    Also Beatrix Schuba (if the 1968 free skating footage is any indication) wasn't at that time the leaden presence she later became. Did she have a growth spurt at 17? She wasn't a spectacular free skater by any means but much more pleasant to watch than she was in 71 or 72.

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    I'm so impressed by Gabriele Seyfert's 2axel from a change of edge :
    http://youtu.be/3Z8-5Tnwodw?t=1m48s

    She was a very strong and powerful skater.

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    I think Peggy was coached by Robert Paul [former CAN Pairs Champion skater] in 1965, just before going to Fassi?

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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    I think Peggy was coached by Robert Paul [former CAN Pairs Champion skater] in 1965, just before going to Fassi?
    I think Bob Paul choreographed for Peggy; I don't think he was her coach..

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    Quote Originally Posted by eurodance2001 View Post
    I think Bob Paul choreographed for Peggy; I don't think he was her coach..
    Yes, he was her choreographer. I dont think he ever coached her? I think John Nicks was her coach during the period between the 1961 air disaster and her moving to Colorado Springs to be coached by Fassi. Nicks took over a lot of Kipp's students after Kipp's death.

    Just as an aside, I came across this video of John Nicks from his days as a pairs skater:-

    Jennifer & John Nicks - 1953 European Championships

    The 1953 European Championships were his penultimate competition as a skater. He and Jennifer retired after the 1953 World Championships and they won both the 1953 European and World championships.
    Last edited by Maofan7; 01-22-2012 at 04:46 AM.

  7. #7

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    Here's a link to a lovely photo of the 1i968 Olympic Ladies Podium:
    http://img.fanbase.com/media.fanbase...d752eec235c532

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    Quote Originally Posted by briancoogaert View Post
    I'm so impressed by Gabriele Seyfert's 2axel from a change of edge :
    http://youtu.be/3Z8-5Tnwodw?t=1m48s

    She was a very strong and powerful skater.
    She could have worked on 3axels, no doubt. That thing was huge.
    -Brian
    "Michelle would never be caught with sausage grease staining her Vera Wang." - rfisher

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    It's interesting to finally see a clip of Noyes skating. It's very easy to see why she never defeated Peggy. Her stroking was just bad.

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    Another interesting aspect about this event was Great Britain's Sally-Anne Stapleford who finished 11th. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the Wikipedia article on Stapleford:-

    After her figure skating career, in 1972 she was appointed a referee at International Skating Union (ISU) events for single and pair skating. Between 1988 and 2002 she was a member of the ISU figure skating technical committee, including serving as chair of this committee from 1992 to 2002. Since 1995, she has also been the president of the National Ice Skating Association of the United Kingdom (NISA), the British figure skating federation.

    Stapleford was the whistleblower of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games figure skating scandal, the person to whom Marie-Reine Le Gougne ("the French judge") confessed following the event to having been involved in a political deal in the pairs competition. Stapleford lost her ISU technical committee position in the political fallout later that year. Subsequently, Stapleford became one of the founders of the World Skating Federation (WSF), and spoke at their press conference on 23 March 2003. The WSF ultimately failed to supplant the ISU, and as a result of her involvement with the attempt, Stapleford lost her ISU eligibility on 1 February 2005. Stapleford has continued to be a vocal critic of the ISU Judging System and the ISU's post-2002 policy of not identifying marks by judge, which she has alleged could simply hide further instances of judging corruption or incompetence.
    And here is an article about what happened to Stapleford as a result of the events at the 2002 Olympics:-

    Cracked Ice Excerpt

    Finally, some videos of Stapleford winning the 1967 British Nationals (also features 1952 Olympic champion, Jeannette Altwegg, presenting the trophy) and winning a Silver medal at the 1965 European Championships:-

    Sally-Anne Stapleford - 1967 British Championships

    Sally-Anne Stapleford - 1965 European Championships
    Last edited by Maofan7; 01-22-2012 at 05:31 AM.

  11. #11

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    I think Janet's free skate should have been second. She had an good attempt at a triple salchow (two-footed) and a beautiful double-axel-double loop combo. And at 14, she already had all the beautiful edge and flow and freedom of movement that would become her trademarks. I have watched this performance many times and each time, am amazed again at how good it is.

  12. #12
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    Audrey Hepburn, one of the biggest stars of the 1960s, apparently spent all day watching compulsory figures and making notes... according to an old newspaper story.

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    Quote Originally Posted by matti View Post
    Audrey Hepburn, one of the biggest stars of the 1960s, apparently spent all day watching compulsory figures and making notes... according to an old newspaper story.
    Yes, I've read that she was there at every practice, on the outside rink.

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    ^I just love the idea of Audrey Hepburn being a FS fan

    Thanks for posting a link to the pic above; Seyfert and Maskova were so athletically built!

    Quote Originally Posted by orbitz View Post
    It's interesting to finally see a clip of Noyes skating. It's very easy to see why she never defeated Peggy. Her stroking was just bad.
    Not to mention the spins. The LP was up and down - she had a cool 2x-2x seq. at the beginning, but she had a few step-outs in that performance
    Last edited by olympic; 01-22-2012 at 02:32 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by giselle23 View Post
    I think Janet's free skate should have been second. She had an good attempt at a triple salchow (two-footed) and a beautiful double-axel-double loop combo. And at 14, she already had all the beautiful edge and flow and freedom of movement that would become her trademarks. I have watched this performance many times and each time, am amazed again at how good it is.
    This!

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    Isn't Stapleford also in the Eismuttis documentary?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by giselle23 View Post
    I think Janet's free skate should have been second. She had an good attempt at a triple salchow (two-footed) and a beautiful double-axel-double loop combo. And at 14, she already had all the beautiful edge and flow and freedom of movement that would become her trademarks. I have watched this performance many times and each time, am amazed again at how good it is.
    I would have had her 2nd in the free skate too, but 2nd to Seyfert. Fleming should have been about 4th in the free skate with that totally lame performance (although she still would have won easily overall).

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    Grenoble was the 60s version of a splatfest: albertville without all the triples. Watching the clips i easily lost count of all the nerve-induced botched landings and wonky spins. Is there something about France that makes it impossible for ladies to skate a clean lp?
    Oh, and LOL at the suggestion of Fleming down in 4th! I needed a good laugh.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by berthesghost View Post
    Grenoble was the 60s version of a splatfest: albertville without all the triples. Watching the clips i easily lost count of all the nerve-induced botched landings and wonky spins. Is there something about France that makes it impossible for ladies to skate a clean lp?
    Oh, and LOL at the suggestion of Fleming down in 4th! I needed a good laugh.
    Though at the Olympics (and Euros), not at Worlds ! 2000 Worlds in Nice showed some perfect LP's !

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    Quote Originally Posted by briancoogaert View Post
    Though at the Olympics (and Euros), not at Worlds ! 2000 Worlds in Nice showed some perfect LP's !
    One with dramatic music, lots of speed, a triple-triple, decent layback spin, and lovely spirals comes to mind.

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