Silver Surprises and Victories
I have heard platitudes and theories about how all silver medalists are winners. I know they are, but that is not how it works sometimes in high stakes competition, especially when you are the contender for outright victory. It is after all second place. I was inspired by the theme of JudgeJudy's semantically-challenging thread title "Silvers beating someone supposed to lose and losing to someone supposed to beat." However, the topic here is silver medalists for whom silver was a victory and unequivocally so. Perhaps they are skaters who were not likely or not certain to medal but then pulled off the silver.
Which competitors pulled off silvers when they were not favored for the top two spots at any point (i.e. either before or during the competition... after the SP)?
The antithesis would be the silver medalists (too numerous to list) like Nancy Kerrigan (1994-W), Michelle Kwan (1997-W, 1998-O, 1999-W, 2002-W), Slutskaya (2002-O), Sasha Cohen (2004-W, 2005-W, 2006-O), Evgeni Plushenko (2002-O & 2010-O), or Mao Asada (2010-O) whose silvers around their necks were overshadowed by their failures to win gold.
In ladies the happiest silver medalist I can think of is Elizabeth Manley at the 1988 Olympics. With her history of mental instability and under-performing, she was thought of as a contender for bronze but not more than that. With Caryn Kadavy and Jill Trenary there--and in light of her past performances--she could not be considered a big front runner for even bronze. It was thus not a loss but a victory for her to pull an upset second place in "The Battle of the Carmens." Her placement was doubly victorious because she achieved it by winning the free skate, beating both Carmens--Katarina Witt and Debi Thomas.
In men's singles, the most overjoyed silver medalist I know about is Paul Wylie.
As for pairs, I am not sure, but I believe that Peter and Kitty Carruthers' silver at the 1984 Olympics--placing above Ksenia Makarova's parents--was considered a totally happy silver and not so much a loss.
What are other cases of "upset Silvers" or "Silver victories"?
Last edited by TheIronLady; 05-04-2013 at 10:10 AM.
Denis Ten at this year's Worlds.
Didn't the media effectively make Ten's silver surprise into a "was robbed" and a loss? It was a great placement for him, but wasn't the brouhaha over the judging enough to almost redefine his silver as something unfortunate rather than great. I believe that's the downside of media and critics going postal at judging. It ironically tarnishes the silver medalist a little too.
Originally Posted by falling_dance
Last edited by TheIronLady; 05-04-2013 at 10:37 AM.
I suppose so, though that's certainly a different kind of loss of the gold than, say, Kwan's in 1998 or Asada's in 2010. It still seems like a victory on balance, particularly when one recalls his struggles since his wonderful debut at 2009 Worlds.
Originally Posted by TheIronLady
Half an hour since this thread started and no one mentioned Paul Wylie yet?
One important silver was Susanna Pöykiö's 2nd place in 2005 Europeans. It was the first medal for Finnish ladies.
Paul Wylie was mentioned in the original post.
Originally Posted by kukkura
Not quite, IMO, but then I just can't shake the narrative of Ten falling four or five times in a program in the autumn, then failing to make the top ten at Worlds the next spring. Going from that to winning the free skate, a silver medal, and having lots of people "wuzrob" for him at 2013 Worlds seems to outweigh the negatives. YMMV.
Originally Posted by TheIronLady
Last edited by falling_dance; 05-04-2013 at 10:52 AM.
It is true that Pöykiö was a most happy silver medalist. She led the way to Finn ladies breaking through those ceilings.
Denis Ten Silver medal was a big surprise, and an unexpected result for him. So, yes, silver surprise and victory !
Originally Posted by TheIronLady
Obviously Paul Wylie.
Originally Posted by TheIronLady
Brian Joubert at 2006 Worlds: although the Olympics that year weren't as awful for him as 2010, he did skate badly and had a disappointing result - so getting a silver medal, after skating really well in both the SP and the LP (alas, not in the QR, or he'd have won) was an amazing result. Also in 2008, when he had had a tough season and was only 6th after the SP, but I think he was happier with the 2006 silver
V/M's silver at 2008 Worlds wasn't a huge surprise, but it was still quite an accomplishment for such a young team.
Tomas Verner at 2007 Euros, Samuel Contesti in 2009: both skaters had been skating senior for years but this was the first major result for each.
There are, of course, quite a few bronze medalists for whom it was an impressive accomplishment.
Elena Sokolova winning silver at 2003 Worlds. Her other placements were 8th ('97), 8th ('98), 10th ('04), 7th ('05), 4th ('06), 13th ('07).
Liz Manley.......I believe "88 Olympics?
Addicted to FSU
Speaking of "semantically-challenging" phrases, saying Liz Manley had a history of mental instability is an unfortunate choice of words.
I just watched Frank Carroll's interview on theskatinglesson.com and he says that he was not disappointed at all with the Worlds result and that he was positively thrilled with Denis' 2nd place finish. So whatever the media says, I think team Denis was all-around heartily content with second (and the LP win).
And I have to add my favourites, Bechke and Petrov in Albertville 1992 - Elena was at last able to avoid a melt-down in the LP and they finished a well-deserved second behind M&D. (There was some 1997 Dreams on Ice fluff about Brasseur and Eisler on B&P and the only thing Lloyd could say was "Elena and Denis beat us in Albertville," while Izzy was much more courteous and laudatory. I get all stabby whenever I see this. Lloyd, Elena and Denis got their silver fair and square, and you were ridiculously lucky to get your questionable bronze. So sit down.) /endrant
Jeff Buttle at 2005 Worlds.
I remember watching one of the videos of the medal ceremony on youtube (I think it was British Eurosport) and the commentator saying that all 3 medalists were completely overjoyed with their result (it was Lambiel, Buttle, Lysacek).
- Rep Power
Alena Leonova at 2012 Worlds.
Pang/Tong at the 2010 Olympics. I think they were thought of more as challengers for the bronze, if anything, while Shen/Zhao and Savchenko/Szolkowy were expected to take the top spots, and Zhang/Zhang, Mukhortova/Trankov and Kavaguti/Smirnov were expected to maybe challenge them too.
ETA: Belbin and Agosto at the 2006 Olympics. They had only won one world medal and I think they were not considered as legitimate threats for the silver medal as some other teams, who faltered in the OD. Some even thought 2010 would be more their time, which was funny because they ended up finishing in 4th then.
Some people were saying b/a for silver some for bronze. Because they won a medal at 2005 worlds and it bing silver they were all over the place for silver and or bronze. Delobel and schoenfelder were obvious choices for a medal but I can't find a prediction for them anywhere!
Originally Posted by TheIronLady
I agree with briancoogaert. Denis was completely happy with winning silver. He definitely had the best one-two punch of all the men and with different politics and scoring system, he might well have been given the victory. He certainly skated the best overall. And, as unchat123 mentioned, Denis' coach, Frank Carroll is also quite happy with the silver win. The gold would have been icing on the cake, of course. But with the silver, Denis has something to be proud of as well as something to continue to build toward.
Originally Posted by briancoogaert
Many people feel Paul Wylie skated well enough to win gold at 1992 Olympics, but he did not have a great rep with the judges so for him to pull off those wonderful performances at the biggest competition ever was a dream. I'm sure Paul felt extremely lucky to even be there and he made the most of his hard fought opportunity. He would have been happy with bronze too! Silver was a bonus, and gold would have been incredible. In fact, silver was like gold for Paul, and Paul went on to win more professional championships than Petrenko, as I recall.
Yeah, Lamby wasn't perfect with his performance, but he was very good. It was a breakthrough for him with Plush missing-in-action in his home country due to injury. I think the fact Plush couldn't perform in Moscow haunted Plush somewhat for the rest of his career. Plush never seemed to pace himself physically.
Originally Posted by screech
At 2005 Worlds, Lysacek was heavily favored politically by his own fed and he was lucky to podium with mistakes. It was known that Johnny had a foot injury, plus JW didn't have a lot of political support as usual. Actually, Johnny did not skate poorly, but he was a bit hampered by the injury, perhaps moreso psychologically and in terms of competition nerves. IMHO, Johnny had the two best iconic programs choreographically that season, and he was exquisitely still at his peak technically and artistically, and should probably have been in second or third with any luck and support. Certainly, at 2004 Worlds, Johnny was unlucky not to at least win bronze with his two perfect and iconic programs, even as a newbie.
With Johnny, in looking back at his career perhaps he was generally done in by his rebellious image, no political support, his poor choices (lack of strategic planning and being at odds with his first coach who adored him) and his lack of complete confidence under competitive pressure. It was Tarasova who helped build Johnny's confidence and stoke his competitive fires -- they were also a great match aesthetically/ artistically. It was unfortunate that they ended up parting ways. Johnny had all the goods and then some but he did not possess the religiously hard work ethic -- altho' JW did work hard, he seemed to resent having to -- and over-achiever determination of Lysacek, or the killer instinct of Yagudin, Plushenko, Stojko, or even of Eldredge, Kulik, Boitano and Browning at their best. Neither did Johnny possess the competitive luck of Lambiel and Buttle, and indeed of Lysacek. IMHO, Joubert, Weir and Todd Eldredge should have more Worlds medals, and with any luck, Olympic medals too. Johnny definitely deserved to win a fourth U.S. Nationals in 2008, and he came close to winning at least the silver at Worlds. In fact, not much separated Weir from Buttle in the 2008 Worlds sp.
As far as Jeff B winning silver at 2005 Worlds: shades of Patrick Chan's Zamboni impersonations. 2008 Worlds gold was sweet redemption for Jeffrey! And he's still looking fit and fabulous as a professional.
One funny thing to think about is how the only Ladies Olympic silver medalists in the last 40 years who were happy were Canadians:
1972- Magnussen was very happy with silver as Schuba was a mortal lock for gold due to figures, and Holmes and Lynn were both big threats to her.
1976- Probably not a big dissapointment but still as reigning World Champ Diane DeLeeuw was probably slightly dissapointed to not win gold, even expectedly losing to the superior Dorthy Hamill.
1980- Fratianne still mourns her silver to this day.
1984- Sumners still mourns her silver to this day almost as much as Fratianne, and in her case she has to know if she just did 1 of those last 2 jumps she missed she would have had it.
1988- Manley overjoyed with silver.
1992- Silver devastating for Ito and Japan.
1994- Kerrigan dissapointed losing that squeeker and losing out on her Cinderella ending.
1998- Kwan disconsolate with silver.
2002- Slutskaya very upset with silver.
2006- Cohen dissapointed with silver, especialy losing to surprise Arakawa, and not Slutskaya as expected.
2010- Asada devastated with silver, even if a perfect skate wouldnt have done it for her with how Kim fared (which probably made it even more painful).
Best examples I can think of:
-The two Canadian ladies Olympic silvers I mentioned.
-Carruthers at the 84 Olympics. Winning silver while the likes of Baess & Theirbach and Underhill & Martini didnt even podium was a huge huge upset.
-Wylie at the 92 Olympics. Nobody thought he could medal.
-Stojko at 98 Olympics considering the circumstances.
-Pang & Tong at 2010 Olympics, especialy winning the LP to boot.
-Zhangs at the 2006 Olympics, especialy considering the circumstances.
-Leistner at the 83 and 89 Worlds.
-Duchensays at the 1990 Worlds, especialy winning the FD which was a huge sign of their rise.
-Lyndon Johnson and that Cindy girl at the 89 Worlds.
-Brasseur & Eisler at the 1990 Worlds back when they were almost unknowns, and after a horrible Canadians where they avoided missing the team and probably ending their partnership by .1 of a point.
-Meno & Sand at the 98 Worlds.
-Lambiel at the 2006 Olympics, as he never seemed to give himself a shot of winning as he should have.
-Bechke & Petrov at the 92 Olympics. They were supposed to fight for bronze, and had not even medalled at Worlds since 98, while Miskutienok & Dmitriev and Brasseur & Eisler were supposed to fight for gold, and have a lock on gold and silver. They combined their best amateur performances ever with poor performances from many of the top teams (especialy B&E) to win a surprising and exciting silver similar to the Carruthers in 84, and bolster that to an outstanding pro career.