I remember 87 NHK and was a bit perplexed by the results. I cannot see how Ito did not win this competition. There were no figures, and her freestyle was extraordinary. I always knew that at Worlds Witt would win over an Ito due to figures, but in a competition w/o them, how in the world could a judge give Witt a first place ordinal? Even Harding was outskating Witt by 1987. And yeah, what judge could give the same technical merit mark to both Ito and Witt given those performances? As much as I detest this new system, at least there can be SOME objectivity.
There wasn't a rivalry, the judges wouldn't even consider it back then. If it wasn't for the fact that Jill Trenary was a total headcase, Ito would NEVER have won a world championship because Japanese fed politik was nonexistent at the time. Yamaguchi was too young and Trenary too unstable, so Ito snuck in for the title. Any other year a strong fed would have pulled out a win over Ito entirely due to figures.