View Poll Results: Who's career was hurt most by School Figures: Janet Lynn or Denise Biellmann?

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  • Janet Lynn

    34 70.83%
  • Denise Biellmann

    12 25.00%
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  1. #1

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    Who's career was hurt most by School Figures: Janet Lynn or Denise Biellmann?

    When comparing Janet Lynn and Denise Biellmann, which of the two's careers was most damaged by the School figures?

    Had there been no compulsories at the time Janet Lynn and Denise Biellmann were skating as amateurs, then in terms of where they finished in the free program (and where relevant, the short program as well), Janet Lynn would have won a silver medal at the 1970 World Championships, she would have won both the 1971 and 1972 World Championships, and she still would have won a Silver at the 1973 World Championships due to a disastrous short program. Janet would also have become Olympic champion in 1972. In terms of Denise Biellmann, she would have won Silver medals at the 1978 and 1979 World Championships, and a bronze at the 1980 World Championships. She of course went on to win the 1981 World Championships, and she would also have become 1980 Olympic Champion.

    Nevertheless, where both Janet and Denise finished in the free programs (and where relevant, the short program) at the time does not tell the whole story. Had there been no compulsories, then all skaters would have focused their training on becoming better free skaters. Who can tell in those circumstances whether Janet and Denise would still have been the best free skaters of their generation. I strongly suspect that they still would have been, but nobody can simply take that as a given/a certainty. Moreover, take away the compulsories, then the pressure is firmly on each skater to perform in the short and free programs in the shoot out for the medals. Both Janet and Denise would in such circumstances have gone into the competition as favourites. How would they have coped with that? When the weight given to the compulsories was reduced for the 1972/73 season, with a short program being introduced, this made Janet the favourite going into the 1973 World Championships. However, a disastrous short program cost her the title. Did she have the ruthless streak required to become a world/olympic champion? Its impossible to tell as its not possible to gauge a persons overall temperament for the big occasion on just 1 competition. Nevertheless, Unlike Janet, Denise was able to seize her opportunity in 1981 and become a World Champion.

    So, who's career was damaged most by the compulsories: Janet or Denise?
    Last edited by Maofan7; 09-27-2012 at 12:15 AM.

  2. #2

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    Midori Ito.

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    Janet. 72 was really her last chance to win the World title.

    Denise would've been very competitive for medals from 81-84 if she hadn't retired.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tak View Post
    Midori Ito.
    She suffered as a result of compulsories too, as did many other skaters. However, I am just comparing Janet and Denise for the purposes of this thread.

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    Biellmann would have probably been in the medals every year starting in 78 without figures, but the Olympic major event she probably would have won is the 1980 Olympics. Had she continued competing she proabably could have dominated atleast until 84, even with the figures. There was nobody to stop her those years really, even Witt in 84 wasnt that good yet.

    Lynn and Ito were the ones hurt the most, but I will say Lynn the most as Ito might not have been totally embraced right away even without the figures judging by her often too low free skating scores from 86-88.

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    Janet Lynn for sure. She would have been a multiple World Champion as well as Olympic champion since her free skating was so far ahead of the others. That Lynn never won a World or Olympic title is sad.

    One reason I did not say Biellmann is that she did win a World title. You would think that Denise would have won most of the majors without figures, but I think that since she came from Switzerland, she was not going to be 'allowed' to dominate US and GDR skaters. I remember Denise as a pro, and she frequently was shafted IMO, because of her athletic and non-princessy style. I think w/o figures she would have been treated the same way.

    The two others that sprang to mind were Zayak and Ito. However they are both World champs and there was NO way either would have won Olympic gold even without figures.
    I will not be ignored! -Me

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    I think Biellmann. Lynn was an all-time great free skater because of her musicality and presentation and light, easy jumps, but she loses points with me for choking away her chances when the ISU changed the rules mainly for her benefit. Who knows how well she would have competed going into the FS in first place after the SP.

    Bielmann had nice presentation, textbook, powerful skating, and was easily outjumping her competitors. (She was doing a triple Lutz when the other top ladies had 3S and 3T only.) I think if all the top ladies were training to compete without compulsories, Biellmann would still have been the best of them.

    She suffered as a result of compulsories too, as did many other skaters. However, I am just comparing Janet and Denise for the purposes of this thread.
    Not to mention that compulsories were eliminated while Ito was still competing so they didn't really affect her all that much. Her one World title came while compulsories were still around and she had chances to win Worlds and Olympics after they were eliminated. Delightful as she was in 1988, it was not just compulsories that kept her out of the medal picture in Calgary. Look at her second marks.)

    Of skaters not included in the poll, I think a better argument could be made for Elaine Zayak, who was outjumping the field but could not do well in compulsories because she was missing some toes on one foot.

  8. #8
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    Zayak's skating was hurt most with the Zayak's Rule and also with her body maturing. Even if figures were eliminated from 83 onward, Elaine wouldn't have been on top of the podium.

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    Probably Janet Lynn. But for all that could be said, figures for her never seemed as weak as they did for Biellmann. Only mentally she was prone to mistakes. Denise Biellmann was a great skater but also was finding herself beaten in the short program for instance.

    As with all these scenarios where you remove figures or compare them to the COP system or put COP skaters into a 6.0 scenario. Most skating is mental and most World Champion and Olympic wins came about because of the mental weakness of other skaters. Both Lynn and Biellmann were prone to being mentally weak. When the short program was introduced Lynn faltered. Biellmann often had difficulty performing a clean program. Midori Ito did see figures get removed and mentally she could be prone to making mistakes.

    I often think these skaters would have struggled regardless of the systems in place primarily because when the system was changed success didn't ensure.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post

    Lynn and Ito were the ones hurt the most, but I will say Lynn the most as Ito might not have been totally embraced right away even without the figures judging by her often too low free skating scores from 86-88.
    ITA...the judges weren't buying into Midori until 89 (why? I couldn't tell you...) Remember the 87 NHK trophy judging in the FS? What a joke.

  11. #11
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    Ito in 88 was a bouncy, bubbly kid. Her 89 LP presented a more mature Ito, and she had the 3A.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Forrest View Post
    Janet Lynn for sure. She would have been a multiple World Champion as well as Olympic champion since her free skating was so far ahead of the others. That Lynn never won a World or Olympic title is sad.

    One reason I did not say Biellmann is that she did win a World title. You would think that Denise would have won most of the majors without figures, but I think that since she came from Switzerland, she was not going to be 'allowed' to dominate US and GDR skaters. I remember Denise as a pro, and she frequently was shafted IMO, because of her athletic and non-princessy style. I think w/o figures she would have been treated the same way.

    The two others that sprang to mind were Zayak and Ito. However they are both World champs and there was NO way either would have won Olympic gold even without figures.

    You are right Ito probably wouldnt have won the 88 Olympics without figures, but that is a pure crime if so. Without figures she should have been the clear winner with her spectacular in everyway 7 triple free skate (nobody else did more than 4 IIRC), especialy with the tech. score as the tiebreaker. Atleast Manley would have been a more worthy winner of those Olympics than Witt, although who knows without the figures they may have fudged the scores futher to still make sure Witt won.

    I wonder if Bielllmann still would have won the 1980 Olympics without figures, or they would again have fudged the scores to make sure Fratianne or Poetzsch won instead. They did allow her to win the free skate, although IMO not nearly as decisively as she should have, but only not even being in real contention for any medal.

  13. #13

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    I'm not sure either Biellmann or Lynn had the overwhelming desire to be Olympic champions. They were too independent. If spending more time on figures meant taking time away from freeskating they weren't interested. Neither of them seems to look back with regret.

  14. #14
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    There is a story that part of the reasoning behind why Gabby Seyfert retired in 1970 because Trixie's Schuba's lead in figures would end up being insurmountable by 1972 Olympics(although Gabby did successfully come from behind to win 1970 Worlds). How much better did Janet Lynn have to be in figures to even be in the range of overtaking Trixie Schuba in 1972 Olympics and/or Worlds?

  15. #15
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    IMO, Janet Lynn.
    Denise Biellmann retired too young, and she's been World champ (and not Janet Lynn )

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by orbitz View Post
    Janet. 72 was really her last chance to win the World title.
    Actually 1973 was her last chance to win the World title.

    Quote Originally Posted by aliceanne View Post
    I'm not sure either Biellmann or Lynn had the overwhelming desire to be Olympic champions. They were too independent. If spending more time on figures meant taking time away from freeskating they weren't interested. Neither of them seems to look back with regret.
    I can't speak for Biellmann, but this does not appear to be true for Lynn. In fact, she worked with the great Pierre Brunet (who had coached Carol Heiss and Donald Jackson among others) to improve her figures. So it seems she and her coach Slavka Kahout did all they could to improve her compulsories, but there was no catching Trixi Schuba, Schuba was that good.

    Janet improved enough to finish 2nd in figures at 1973 Worlds, just behind Karen Magnussen, but as Susan M and gingercrush point out, she choked during the first ever SP with 2 falls, and despite placing 1st in LP yet again, she placed 2nd overall.

    ETA: Here is a video of 1971 Worlds where, when Janet did not make the podium, the Lyon crowd booed until Janet came to the boards to acknowledge their support. It was Pierre Brunet who pushed her towards the boards.

    Janet Lynn 1971 Worlds "controversy"
    Last edited by pollyanna; 09-27-2012 at 04:08 PM.

  17. #17

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    Janet had the "misfortune" of competing against the person who was - arguably - the best compulsory figure skater, ever.
    As pollyanna said, she did all she could to improve.
    At a time when they comprised the lion's share of the score; and there were as many as six figures, Janet really didn't stand a chance.

  18. #18
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    All i can say is thank God they got rid of Compulsory figures. Schuba had all the grace of a truck driver in her LP program. At the very least they should not have counted for as much of the score as they did at the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pollyanna View Post
    ETA: Here is a video of 1971 Worlds where, when Janet did not make the podium, the Lyon crowd booed until Janet came to the boards to acknowledge their support. It was Pierre Brunet who pushed her towards the boards.

    Janet Lynn 1971 Worlds "controversy"
    Something she later expressed regret for doing since she didn't feel comfortable showing up Schuba.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jammers View Post
    All i can say is thank God they got rid of Compulsory figures. Schuba had all the grace of a truck driver in her LP program. At the very least they should not have counted for as much of the score as they did at the time.
    Skating lost something when compulsory figures were dropped. What that something is is up to interpretation, but whether it's skills being lost or just an element of competition that was worthy in its own right, skating has lost something. Just imagine figures today with state of the art laser measuring systems and what not instead of judges. Sports freaks eat that kind of stuff up.

    As for Trixi being a truck driver, that's kind of harsh. She wasn't that bad.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcopper View Post
    Something she later expressed regret for doing since she didn't feel comfortable showing up Schuba.


    Skating lost something when compulsory figures were dropped. What that something is is up to interpretation, but whether it's skills being lost or just an element of competition that was worthy in its own right, skating has lost something. Just imagine figures today with state of the art laser measuring systems and what not instead of judges. Sports freaks eat that kind of stuff up.

    As for Trixi being a truck driver, that's kind of harsh. She wasn't that bad.
    Yes, skating did lose something, but time marches on. The old 4s and 8s competitions are gone as well. Figures are very time-consuming to learn and skating competition is now more of child sport than a sport for adults. It started out being a sport for adult men, and now the primary focus is pre-pubescent girls.

    Schuba wasn't that bad. She was still good enough to finish in the top ten in the world at free skating. I think she was the last of the old school in physical appearance as well.
    Last edited by aliceanne; 09-27-2012 at 05:31 PM.

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