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  1. #1
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    Elaine Zayak - 1985 - 1988

    In her recent interview with The Skating Lesson, Elaine mentioned her desire to continue skating as an eligible competitor until the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary.

    With that in mind, I am wondering how she would have done on the national and world level against:

    Chin, Thomas, Kadavy, and Trenary on the national level, and on the world level, Witt, Thomas, Chin, Manley, and Ivanova.

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    Hmm that is intersting. I wish I could ask her if that is what she wanted, why she didnt continue awhile longer, and atleast see how her standing in the U.S and in the World progressed and seeing if it was a feasible goal or not. Was she already convinced she was dumped and there would be no chance of making it to Calgary (probably true), or was it financial reasons, or long standing injuries?

    I have a feeling she wouldnt have done too well. The judges at the Olympics and Worlds make it pretty clear how they felt about her by then. Her free skate performances at the Olympics were outstanding IMO and should have atleast placed top 3 in both phases given how her competitors skating (mostly pretty poor from the other contenders) but she finished only 5th in the combined free skating, even below Kira Ivanova who had a decent short and abysmal long program. At the Worlds she did win the bronze with a great performance, but the judges HAD to give her this medal after Kondrashova and Ivanova had huge meltdowns in the long program in a field already missing Sumners, Leistner, Chin, and Vodorezova. Young Tiffany Chin had already flown past her that season, and as we saw in future years Chin herself was to be bypassed by all of Thomas, Kadavy, and Trenary, so much so she quit before the 88 Olympics, knowing she had little to no chance of making the 3 women team. So basically she would have had to repass someone like Chin to even have a chance, as Chin by 86 and 87 was even barely/no longer that competitive.

    I think she would have made the 85 World team for sure, probably placing 2nd at Nationals to Chin (who was easily beatable given her skates there, and already on visible and massive decline from her 84 level, but no doubt would have won, as she was the chosen one at that point).

    In 86 though she probably would have been dumped and dropped off the team altogether in favor of the Thomas, Trenary, and Chin trio. This is the year Chin herself dropped to 3rd in the U.S, and this is before the real emergence of people like Jill Trenary, Tonya Harding, and some promising juniors. That probably would have been it for her.

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    Her content would have been good, but she would have "missed her turn".

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    She said she made deals to tour and it was the commitments that made her stop. She may have blocked someone who rose to prominence 1985-1988. It's not clear that she would've been overtaken. She could be judged pretty well on figures. She had a rocky time for year before the Olympics and maybe she would have been more personally stable. Injuries were also a problem but she skated well right before she left to tour.

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    Elaine's programs for me stand the test of time. Depending on fitness levels, she was capable of two 3toes (one in a 3 jump combo), two 3 sals, and a 3loop (in the 2nd half of the program no less, going by '84 Worlds). But, as others stated, she was out of favor.

    Now, in '85, Chin was the princess du jour even if she was only doing 3 toes. No way even a 5 triple Elaine would get past her. Elaine may or may not have made it past Thomas and Kadavy at that time due to no international cred, but getting past either one would've still been an ask because Thomas was rocking a strong 2x-3t and Kadavy had a 3loop and was considered a ballerina. They were the future vs. against a skater who already had a shot and in her prime was not even favored by the USFSA.

    Strangely, in '86, Elaine IMO had more of a shot: Chin's rep took a hard hit and was still only doing 3 toes. Thomas and Kadavy were strong through nationals even if Thomas was only doing split-3toe-2toe and the 3loop wasn't cooked yet. Kadavy had a strong year leading up to Nationals. Trenary was injured. A clean Elaine w/ all her jump content may have snuck past Chin for the 3rd spot.

    In '87, Thomas had a solid rep as World Champ and Trenary was obviously now a fave of the USFSA. Kadavy was a disaster in the SP at '87 Nats but pulled up to 3rd after the LP and medalled at Worlds. I don't think Elaine could've made the team. The judges would've been determined to place Kadavy high enough and Elaine low enough in the LP to ensure Kadavy's spot, but Elaine would've finished ahead of Chin, who could do nothing more than a 2x at that point.

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    By 1987 (and even 1986) Chin was the one viewed as a has been by the USFSA. It is true she was only doing triple toes, but even had all the girls done just a triple toe-double toe combo in the short and skated cleanly with only 2 triple toes in the long at the 87 Nationals, she still would finished 4th behind Thomas, Kadavy, and Trenary. She really had to win the 85 or 86 Worlds to save her reputation, and failed both times.

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    I think Zayak would have had a hard time in the 1984-85 season up to US Nationals with Chin's new status, but there after she would have been fine. Everybody expected Chin to continue to perform 3F and then eventually perform 3A, which she had in practice. However, Chin's triples began to disappear by the end of the 1984-85 season. Conversely, Zayak kept her 3Loop and was even able to perform 3Loop/2Toe in combination in 1994, and no skater made the World or Olympic podium with content greater than a 3Loop until the 1988 Olympics.
    Last edited by bardtoob; 04-07-2013 at 05:39 PM.

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    Another question that popped into my mind - How would a healthy Elaine done at '83 Worlds had she completed the competition? In one sense, I have to think that she would've placed ahead of Leistner and Voderezova to be on the podium, if for anything else, she had cred from being the current World Champ. Then again, Witt was only 4th, so Elaine may have been off the podium. I don't think she would've been able to beat Roz, who was the new US darling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bardtoob View Post
    Conversely, Zayak kept her 3Loop and was even able to perform 3Loop/2Toe in combination in 1994, and no skater made the World or Olympic podium with content greater than a 3Loop until the 1988 Olympics.
    Thanks for the link, I didn't remember it was that well !
    btw, what is the music of this SP ???

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    The more interesting question is the comments Peggy Flemming would have made in the US Nationals broadcasts (re: Elaine vs. the other competitors).

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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    Another question that popped into my mind - How would a healthy Elaine done at '83 Worlds had she completed the competition? In one sense, I have to think that she would've placed ahead of Leistner and Voderezova to be on the podium, if for anything else, she had cred from being the current World Champ. Then again, Witt was only 4th, so Elaine may have been off the podium. I don't think she would've been able to beat Roz, who was the new US darling.
    She was 11th in figures before she WD. From that position I dont think she could have medalled. Witt was 9th in figures and couldnt medal from there depite being 1st in the SP and 2nd in the LP.

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    I loved Zayak's interview with The Skating Lesson. One thing that particularly struck me was how cool she was with the Zayak rule. Even though it was sort of detrimental to her, she said it was a great thing for skating because it forced skaters to do all types of triples. She's totally honest but fair about herself and others.

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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    She was 11th in figures before she WD. From that position I dont think she could have medalled. Witt was 9th in figures and couldnt medal from there depite being 1st in the SP and 2nd in the LP.
    That is true, though it is possible that Elaine Zayak staying in the competition could have helped Katarina Witt medal if Elaine's SP and FS placements would have pushed Leistner's and Vodorezova's placements down enough to allow Katarina to jump to silver instead of stuck at 4th overall.

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    Zayak struggled with her weight all throughout her competitive career and would've struggled with it if she had stayed on past 84. Chin was definitely the IT girl in 85, so Elaine would not have regained her National title that year. Then with the emergence of Thomas and Kadavy from 85 and onward, Zayak would have been fighting for 3rd or 4th place standing, which I'm sure she wouldn't have been happy with. Technically Zayak would've been competitive, but style-wise, the judges would've put her below Thomas and Kadavy and probably also Chin.

    Whatever Zayak did to pull her body together in 94, I wish she would've been that disciplined during 83 and 84.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seerek View Post
    That is true, though it is possible that Elaine Zayak staying in the competition could have helped Katarina Witt medal if Elaine's SP and FS placements would have pushed Leistner's and Vodorezova's placements down enough to allow Katarina to jump to silver instead of stuck at 4th overall.
    Quite possibly that would have happened for sure. Leistner and Vodorezova were both lackluster in the LP. I didnt see any of the short programs, I only know Witt was clean and Sumners (4th in the short) make a mistake.

    Quote Originally Posted by VIETgrlTerifa View Post
    I loved Zayak's interview with The Skating Lesson. One thing that particularly struck me was how cool she was with the Zayak rule. Even though it was sort of detrimental to her, she said it was a great thing for skating because it forced skaters to do all types of triples. She's totally honest but fair about herself and others.
    Well she knows part of her legacy was she pushed the jumping envelope by doing all those triples, and it led to the next step, skaters doing different types of triples. She was the cause of that, she made the triples and triple toes look so easy for the first time the rules had to take the next step in jumping prowess (and for all the triple toes she did she did different triples herself, not many women had 3 different triples then like her).

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    ^And she usually did those triples with sequences, combos, and transitions

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    And she had both a 2lz3t and a 2a3t, not to mention the most amazing final jump sequence ever, like a fireworks finale. And she had interesting spins with decent positions and change of edge.

    Unfortunately, her figures were quite literally a crap shoot. Ones that required super control of forward outside edges were always a problem, due to her partial foot.

    I don't think Peggy would have been quite as hard on her in 1985; photos of her partial foot had been shown during the 1984 Olympics coverage, and Peggy dialed down the nastiness for the LP a bit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by essence_of_soy View Post
    Elaine Zayak - 1985 - 1988
    So sorry to hear of her passing! She died FAR too young.
    It's official. I am madly in love with Meryl Davis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    She was 11th in figures before she WD. From that position I dont think she could have medalled. Witt was 9th in figures and couldnt medal from there depite being 1st in the SP and 2nd in the LP.
    I wonder how much of that was due to an injury, though. I remember her being led off the ice in tears in Helsinki '83. Plus, she was 4th after the figures in 1982. I guess it depended on what figures were being traced, because as others have pointed out here and in other threads, she was pretty decent at certain figures, and terrible at others due to her foot. If Witt didn't medal, then maybe she wouldn't have either. But at the same time, it's hard for me to imagine a defending world champ in that era not beating Leistner or Vodorezova.

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    She skated her best at the Olympics and was 6th. The direction she was going in the judges eyes is pretty easy to see.

    As for Chin she must have fallen out of favor with the judges since her Mom pissed off the USFSA or something.

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