Yugoslavia/Coratia's Željka Čižmešija finished 7th in figures and 19th and 20th in the SP and FS at the 1989 worlds. A year later she was the last woman to compete in figures in the history of the sport at the 1990 worlds. Here is a thread to discuss these kind of skaters...
"Figures specialists" seem more likely to have been Europeans, from the communist East, and/or tall Germanic ladies. Why was that? Why didn't Canada or the USA produce as many athletes who dropped dramatically after figures? Was David Santee a figures specialist of sorts? I don't know much about his career but he placed higher in figures at several world championships.
Below are some figures "specialists." Whether you love or hate their lackluster free skating, these competitors made the history of the sport interesting. They also made the scoring sometimes bizarre.
One of the famous Soviet figures specialists, Sergei Volkov, had a reputation for tight control over his nerves. Handling nerves had to be more essential for compulsories than free skating where music and adrenalin provide more help to the mind/body. Volkov was also known to have a beautiful, silent glide. His build does not seem ideal for free skating--or at least jumping--but maybe it was an asset for figures. Certainly his work ethic was. He was observed to be a dedicated worker. As Frank Carroll still says today, training figures for competition demanded discipline.
Sergei Volkov - 1976 Olympics - Free Skate
Volkov's coach said in a Russian interview: "His manly power on the ice bewitched, but at the same time his skating turned out too dry and academic. To make a free spirited gesture in any program... was as impossible as for a member of the Polit Bureau to dance the kazatsky dance before the presidium at the party congress. " A stolid temperament or inhibited expression seem to be likely characteristics of the figures specialist.
Kira Ivanova (URS) 1988 Olympics SP
Claudia Leistner (West Germany) 1988 Olympics SP
Željka Čižmešija (Yugoslavia/Croatia) 1990 Worlds SP (this isn't as bad as I thought it would be...)
Beatrix Schuba (AUT) 1972 Olympics FS
Dagmar Lurz (West Germany) 1980 Olympics SP
Karin Iten (SWI) - won CF '74 worlds, placed 14th/17th in SP/FS Strange Documentary
Isabel de Navarre (West Germany) - won CF '76 worlds, placed 7th/12th in SP/FS 1976 Olympics
Marion Weber (East Germany) 1976 Olympics
Sandra Cariboni (SWI)- 6th in CF '85 worlds, placed 19th/20th in SP/FS 1984 Olympics
Jean-Christophe Simond (FRA) 1984 Olympics FS (cool music in the second half of program)
Sergei Volkov (URS)