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Retrospective: The 1972 Olympics

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Maofan7, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Member

    Retrospective moves onto the 1972 Olympics.

    The key facts in relation to these Olympics are:-

    • These Olympics were the nadir for compulsory figures, with both winners of the singles events performing very poorly in their free skates, but winning despite that, due to their strength in the school figures. At this time, compulsories still contributed 50% of the marks. Consequently, Trixi Schuba was able to win, despite finishing 7th in the free skate, and Ondrej Nepela was able to win despite finishing 4th in the free skate. As a direct result of this, and its perceived unfairness towards much more accomplished free skaters like Janet Lynn and Toller Cranston, the weight contributed by compulsories were gradually reduced over the next 20 years (with compulsories being eliminated altogether at the end of the 1989/90 season) and a short program was introduced.

    • Ondrej Nepela wins the men's title. He was the reigning world champion and favourite going into the Olympics, and would go on to win the world title on 3 consecutive occasions between 1971-73, before retiring at the end of the 1972/73 season to tour with Holiday on Ice. Sadly, he died of AIDS-related complications in 1989, at the age of just 38. The Ondrej Nepela Memorial tournament was set up and named in his honour, and has been held annually (usually in his home town of Bratislava) since 1993. In fact, were it not for the fact that the 1973 World Championships were to be held in Bratislava, Nepela would have retired a year earlier at the end of the 1971/72 season. Nepela won the compulsories at the 1972 Olympics easily, opening up a huge lead. His 4th placed finish in the free skate, was therefore sufficient for him to win the title.

    • Sergei Chetverukhin won the free skate, and took the Silver. His medal was a first medal at an Olympics for a Soviet skater in singles.

    • For the second Olympics running, Patrick Péra took the bronze, despite a thoroughly disastrous free skate in which in finished 8th in that section. His 2nd place in the compulsories was sufficient to enable him to win a medal.

    • Beatrix Schuba wins the Olympic title in the ladies event. Like Nepela, she led by a enormous margin after the compulsories. So large was the lead, that she would go on to win the title despite a dismal 7th placed finish in the free program. Schuba's 7th place in the free program has the unfortunate distinction of being the lowest placement in the free skate section by an Olympic gold medalist in the entirety of Olympic history. In singles, nobody comes close to matching this feat. Nepela, of course, came 4th when winning his title. And Jeannette Altwegg (1952) and Magda Julin (1920) both came 4th when winning their gold medals. Moreover, it was not as if the best free skater, Janet Lynn (who won the free program and took the bronze medal behind Silver medalist, Karen Magnussen) was poor at the compulsories. Her school figures were quite respectable, and she finished 4th in that section. As for Schuba's free skate, footage of it has not been widely seen in over 40 years (fortunately for her). Nobody can therefore say for certain whether it is the worst free skate of all time by an Olympic gold medalist, except by way of inference. For example, as stated, it has the distinction of garnering the lowest placement by a gold medalist in a free program in Olympic history. Moreover, the descriptions of it are extremely unflattering - performing mostly single jumps, and the ultimate result was booed by the crowd (this was not the first time, moreover, that a crowd had displayed consternation at a result involving Schuba and Lynn - it also happened the previous year at the 1971 World Championships, where Lynn finished outside the medals despite winning the free program with a superb performance). Nevertheless, in winning the title, Schuba became the first Austrian to win the Olympic ladies event since Herma Szabo in 1924.

    • Karen Magnussen would go on to win the 1973 World title, before retiring at the end of the 1972/73. Janet Lynn also retired at the end of that same season, without sadly having ever won a world or Olympic title (an awful fate for one of greatest ever ladies free skaters).

    • Had there been no compulsories at the time Janet Lynn was skating as an amateur, then in terms of where she finished in the free program (and where relevant, the short program as well), she 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. She would also have become Olympic champion in 1972. Nevertheless, where Lynn finished in the free program (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. Hence, who can tell in those circumstances whether Janet Lynn would still have been the best free skater of her generation. I strongly suspect that she 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. Lynn, in such circumstances, would have gone into the competition as the favourite. How would she 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.

    • Irina Rodnina & Alexei Ulanov win the pairs gold medal, winning both the short program and free skate to take the title. Rodnina & Ulanov were the reigning world champions going into the Olympics, having won the world title on 3 consecutive occasions between 1969-71. They would retain their world title after the 1972 Olympics. Nevertheless, the 1972 Olympics was a closely fought contest between them and their compatriots, Lyudmila Smirnova & Andrei Suraikin, who took the Silver. In fact, Ulanov missed a double salchow in the short program, and Rodnina made an error in the jump combination at the beginning of the free program. Despite this, however, they did just enough to win. The fact that they were not at their best during these Olympics may have been attributable to personal problem between Rodnina & Ulanov. As Sports Reference point out: "Rodnina was considered the stronger skater of her pair, and Ulanov, who was weary of her mocking him, became romantically involved with Smirnova. They would eventually marry and after 1972, Rodnina and Ulanov split as a pair skating couple. In Sapporo, knowing what was to come, Rodnina, who had once had strong romantic feelings for Alexei, left the ice in tears after their free skating performance."

    • The 1972 Olympics was the first of three consecutive Olympic titles for Rodnina, who would go on to win the 1976 and 1980 titles with Alexander Zaitsev.

    There is not much footage of the 1972 Olympics, but here is what there is:-


    Gold: Ondrej Nepela (Czechoslovakia)

    Free Skate (1971 World Championships)

    Reception back in Czechoslovakia after winning the Olympics

    Silver: Sergei Chetverukhin (USSR)

    Free Skate (1972 European Championships), 2nd Copy

    Bronze: Patrick Péra (France)

    Clip from 1968 Olympics free program (16 seconds in)

    4th: Kenneth Shelley (USA)

    Free Skate (1972 U.S. Nationals), 2nd Copy

    5th: John Misha Petkevich (USA)

    Free Skate (1972 U.S. Nationals), 2nd Copy


    Gold: Beatrix Schuba (Austria)

    Compulsories, More Compulsories

    Medal Ceremony - 7 mins 5 secs in

    Free Skate (1972 European Championships)

    Schuba/Lynn Controversy - 1971 World Championships

    Silver: Karen Magnussen (Canada)

    Free Skate (2 mins 48 secs in)

    Free Skate (1973 World Championships)


    Bronze: Janet Lynn (USA)

    Compulsories (1 min 46 secs in), Free Skate (With Swans - 7 mins 38 secs in)

    Free Skate (2nd Copy - 4 mins 54 secs in - No Swans)

    3rd Copy - With Swans

    4th Copy - No Swans

    Profile, 2nd Profile, 3rd Profile, 4th Profile

    4th: Julie Lynn Holmes (USA)

    Free Skate (1972 U.S. Nationals), 2nd Copy


    Gold: Irina Rodnina & Alexei Ulanov (USSR)

    Free Skate - 7 mins 35 secs in

    Silver: Lyudmila Smirnova & Andrei Suraikin (USSR)

    Exhibition - March 1971

    Bronze: Manuela Gross & Uwe Kagelmann (East Germany)

    Short Program (1976 Olympics)

    Free Skate (1976 Olympics)

    4th: JoJo Starbuck & Kenneth Shelley (USA)

    Short Program (1972 U.S. Nationals)

    Free Skate (1972 U.S. Nationals)

    As usual, many thanks to Floskate for uploading many of these videos to YouTube.

    Unfortunately, it will be noted that the maker of the official 1972 Olympic film had an unfortunate fascination with swans :rolleyes:, which somewhat spoils the Janet Lynn free skate footage
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  2. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

    What! No swans for Trixi? Oh, the humanity.
    Judge Dred likes this.
  3. Judge Dred

    Judge Dred Active Member

    Trixie must have had a very big lead after the compulsory figures to be able to hang on with the free making up 50% of the final score. Does anybody know how large it was?
    supergirl573 likes this.
  4. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    As an addition to this, my interview with Janet Lynn's coach Slavka Kohout covers some of 1972 as well. The full interview is here, but highlights are transcribed below:

  5. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

  6. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    Maofan7 do you have any links or transcripts for the descriptions of Schuba's freeskate? This is what she actually did:

    flying camel, forward scratch, 2f, 1r, 2z, layback, steps and a bit of naff choreo, 1x, flying sit, split 2t combo, 2s, 1x, camel to upright (slow), wafting into spreadeagle, 2t, flying camel about 2 revs, 2z, half flip-1.5flip-3turn-mazurka-2flip combo, 2t, flying sit to scratch. She popped the loop but otherwise skated better with cleaner jumps than in Gothenburg. The skaters who beat her in the free were all renowned free skaters: Lynn, Magnussen, Morgenstern, Almassy, Errath and Trapanese. All bar Trapanese regularly did two double axels and Morgenstern also had the triple sal. Her placement was absolutely correct but she didn't skate all that badly. If only she had done the double axels she could do in practice, Schuba might have been regarded quite differently by skating history.
    gkelly and (deleted member) like this.
  7. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

    I thought figures were proportional to your height, not absolute?

    Did they change that? Because when I did figures, my coach measured me and then set the scribe so the diameter of the circle was 3x my height.
    Judge Dred likes this.
  8. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    Some interesting titbits and jump notes from the archives courtesy of Skating magazine and Skating World magazine :)

    After day one of ladies figures Trixie was, of course in the lead but interestingly Julie Lynn Holmes was 2nd with 481.6, Janet was very close to her in 3rd with 478.5 and Karen Magnussen 4th with 469.3, some 9 points back of Janet. It really did go wrong on day two :eek:

    Pairs SP - Militano's deducted by two judges for illegal hops in their step sequence. (Their SP that year was to Psycho and it was brilliant!!)
    Starbuck & Shelley skated early and it was felt that this affected their marks. As reigning world bronze medallists they had three 3rds in the SP compared to five 3rds for Gross & Kagelmann. Ulanov did indeed single the salchow. I think it was Sandra Stevenson who once wrote that, with all eyes on Rodnina, not many people noticed. They got nothing lower than two 5.7's for technical merit but were almost tied with Smirnova & Suraikin 104.4 to 104.5 and 13 placements to 14 after the SP.

    Pairs FS - Starbuck & Shelley had a glitch on the throw axel and she 2-footed a 2sal but landed 2z and had good lifts. Smirnova & Suraikin 2footed a sbs 2r, Gross & Kagelmann did two throw 2x, 2twist and sbs 2r and according to reports were the only pair to skate totally clean. The Militano's made a bit of history by becoming teh first pair to land sbs 2x and throw 2x in one program. Their marks were booed.

    Mens FS - Nepela fell for the first time in 4 years when he biffed his triple toe, but everything else was clean and his 54 point lead in the figures saw him home. I often find him a little bit maligned by history. As his 71 Worlds LP's shows he was no slouch, had some good jumps, speed and his lines were ok. He skated under the rules and style of the day - clunky - doing just as much technically as everyone else. I think he did have more style in him but as a communist skater he would never have been able to give this free reign in this era. Nepela defence over ;)

    Sergei Chetverukhin evidently had the skate of his life. He was very tall and naturally elegant with a lot of charisma. He skated typically soviet but with good flow. Here he landed absolutely everything including triple sal and according to skating magazine a triple toe sal - aka a flip - but I think this must be wrong as I have only seen him do sal and toe. Other standout skates came from Toller Cranston landing sal and loop, Haig Oundjian with two triples and John Misha Petkevich who recovered from his ghastly long at US Nationals where he fell twice to land everything apart from a small two foot on his triple loop. John Curry gave a replica of his 1971 Worlds LP where he fell on both triples :(
  9. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    It sounds like great preparation for the skate that made him a "sensation" a few weeks later!

    Thanks for sharing these details, floskate,
    They mean so much when we have so little video available.

    That I remember.
    They were so far ahead of their time.
    Maofan7 and (deleted member) like this.
  10. Yazmeen

    Yazmeen Well-Known Member

    Janet Lynn's smile when she got up after she fell on her flying sit spin has frequently been used as an example for young skaters to show them how to handle adversity in competition. It made her an icon to the Japanese - they were supposedly absolutely stunned at her moving on from a mistake without a visible change in her happy attitude. Two great Janet retrospectives, one for the Olympices: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8ZNDfgBmQk (really, break out the tissues here, this is moving) and also this one about 1971 Worlds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vzvtjbcv-Cs

    And one more! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCYCvsnkVbY

    My favorite description of Janet: "She skated for some other reason, giving herself up to what other people had not been able to do."
  11. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Member

    Many thanks for the description. I am one of the many that has never seen Schuba's free skate (as you know, no video of it has ever been placed online) and have therefore had to rely upon what others have said about it. Looking at your description, it certainly was not as bad as has often been made out!


    Thank you for the link

    I thought I would also post a link to your interview with Jojo Starbuck as well. Here is part of the transcript in reference to the 1972 Olympics:-

    Who knows how costly that loss of valuable practice time may ultimately have been - only to have it 'officially' confirmed that she was indeed a woman!

    Here are a couple of Chicago Tribune articles on Janet Lynn:-

    Whatever happened to Janet Lynn? - By Nara Schoenberg

    Long After Skating Glory, Lynn Still Inspires Awe - By Philip Hersh

    And here are some interviews with Irina Rodnina:-

    2010 Interview

    2005 Interview
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
    Judge Dred likes this.
  12. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    Can you elaborate?
  13. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    Consider the final figures results for those three:

    Holmes - 1128.5
    Magnussen - 1105.7
    Lynn - 1074.6

    Subtracting the day one score:

    Holmes -646.9
    Magnussen - 636.4
    Lynn - 596.1

    So Janet really must have botched to end up 40 points behind when she had a 9 point buffer on Karen Magnussen after the first day of figures! Had she kept up her level of day 1 and hypothetically finished figures in 3rd somewhere near to Julie Lynn Holmes, she still wouldn't have won, because free skating just didn't allow a good free skater to make up enough points, even though by then it was a 50/50 split between figures and free.

    The problem with total points was always the corridors in which judges marked. Figures were always marked lower than free skating but the disparity of marks you can see from figures results among the top skaters was very big. It was easy for Trixie to be anything from .5 to 1.5 better than her nearest rivals on each scorecard for each figure. That's a lot of points adding up. And judging from the wonderful footage we have of the figures, she probably was that much better than anyone else.

    Conversely, Trixie's free skating - while not the embarrassment that many would have us believe, was only judged to be 2 to 3 tenths lower than Janet's! Therefore 5.8-6.0 gets first place, but 5.5-5.7 was the 7th best free skate and more than enough points to win very easily. Judges never used the breadth of marks they could have done when marking free skating. You could argue that Janet was every bit as good at free skating than Trixie was at figures, yet the marks just don't reflect that. I think someone once worked out that she would have had to have received low 4's in order for Magnussen or Lynn to overhaul her figures lead.

    ETA: At Worlds in Calgary just a few weeks later, Trixie had a 130+ point lead after figures and only finished 9th in free skating. (This really was mammoth - Nepela's usual leads of 40-50 points were considered unassailable, but he was a better free skater than Trixie.)However Karen managed to get 3 first place ordinals, but still fell about 30 points short in total points after free skating.
  14. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    I feel that Janet Lynn looks so moody and grumpy in her 1990s interviews/videos. Perhaps I don't understand her. In contrast, during her skating performances, her smiling strikes me as manic. Were people moodier in the seventies ;)?
    Judge Dred likes this.
  15. skateboy

    skateboy Well-Known Member

    It seems incomprehensible that in this day and age, where pretty much everything is posted on YouTube, there is no record of Trixi Schuba's Olympic free skate in '72. Wonder why?
    Judge Dred likes this.
  16. neptune

    neptune Well-Known Member

    Interesting. Do you have a link to any of them?

    Well, what decade do you think gave us "Moody Blue"? ;)
    Judge Dred likes this.
  17. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

    Sonja Morgenstern's 1972 Europeans freeskate was previously available but now isn't...too bad injuries ended her career prematurely.
    Judge Dred likes this.
  18. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    Thanks floskate for the detailed analysis. :)

    We should cross-reference this post to the one where everyone is bitching about the complications of the math of IJS! :lol:
    Judge Dred likes this.
  19. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    Videotape was in its' infancy in those years, and was often reused/taped over.
    Events that were on film, were often not archived/saved.

    I hope that more footage of these early events, held in private collections, will eventually surface.
    skateboy and (deleted member) like this.
  20. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Member

    Have you ever approached Janet Lynn herself for an interview?

    If you do interview her, please let us all know. I am sure that there are quite a number of us on here who would like to suggest questions to ask.

    Back in 2011, she wrote this superb critique on COP/IJS. I've often wondered if she could have chosen when she was born and could have had her skating career all over again, which era would she have preferred to skate in. Given her views on COP/IJS, obviously not the current one. I also doubt she would want to go through the same problems she encountered with an era in which compulsories contributed 50-60% of the marks. As for the period between the elimination of compulsories in 1990 up to the introduction of COP/IJS, would she have preferred to have competed in an era in which 3F's, 3Z's, and 3+3 combinations became the norm, and Ito and Harding were performing 3A's (i.e. a more athletic era)? What about the period between 1973 and 1990 when the short program was introduced and the percentage contribution of compulsories was gradually diminished? I have often suspected that this is the era in which she would have been most successful. I wonder what her views are on that.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2013
  21. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    Yes, twice. The first time she said at the moment she prefers to write her thoughts down on paper than give interviews. I can understand that. But she said to contact her again in the future. The second time she didn't respond. But I'll keep checking in with her every once in a while in the hopes she'll agree. I'd love to giver her a platform on which she can express her views.
    Judge Dred likes this.
  22. neptune

    neptune Well-Known Member

    That's bizarre--is it possible she never received your message?
    Judge Dred likes this.
  23. Minou

    Minou Member

    Smirnova came so close to winning OGM twice with different partners...
    supergirl573 and Judge Dred like this.
  24. DarrellH

    DarrellH New Member

    She is supposedly a very quiet person.
    Judge Dred likes this.
  25. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    Ludmilla Smirnova? Yes indeed for 1972 but when did she almost win the OGM again? After teaming up with Ulanov and being resoundingly 2nd in just about everything - they even dropped to 3rd at 1974 Europeans - they retired after 1974 Worlds. She was an exquisite skater with lovely big jumps and gorgeous lines. She and Suraikin and then Ulanov just didn't have the same technical content that Rodnina & partner could deliver, however nearly every article from major championships for their era notes how much more artistic she was. She and Suraikin did manage to take one 1st place from Rodnina - the 1971 Worlds SP which was the only time Rodnina lost any portion of any international competition between 1969 and 1980.
  26. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller #1 Dick Button Fan

    I beg to differ on Nepela. He was actually quite wonderful but had one jump error in his '72 Oly free skate. Never in a million years was he as weak a free skater as was Trixie.

    Thanks for starting this thread, maofan7. :)
    Judge Dred likes this.
  27. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    She doesn't seem "grumpy" to me, in the ones shared above.
    Janet never did many "extended" interviews.
    Perhaps that's what you are noticing.
  28. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Member

    I would agree. He was a good free skater as he showed with his 1971 Worlds FP. As Floskate pointed out, his fall on the 3T was his first fall in competition in 4 years. It was very unfortunate that it happened at the Olympics, and that it left him down in 4th place in the free skate.

    His record at the world championships was as follows:-

    1969: Comp = 1, FS = 6 (2nd overall behind Tim Wood)
    1970: Comp = 1, FS = 3 (2nd overall behind Tim Wood)
    1971: Comp = 1, FS = 1 (1st overall)
    1972: Comp = 1, FS = 3 (1st Overall)
    1973: Comp = 1, SP = 2, FS = 2 (1st overall)

    Hence, 1971 worlds was one of his best free skates! What the above shows is that his strength did lie in compulsories, but that he was also a good free skater. Nevertheless, he was reliant upon the compulsories to win his world and Olympic titles (except in 1971). The problem with large compulsory leads is that those with the lead often skated conservatively in the free program, and not to their true potential. Had there been no compulsories, and had he then been compelled to focus all his training on his free skating, would he have been as successful? Who knows. I suspect he would have still been amongst the leading contenders, but it would have been far more difficult for him against the strong free skaters, such as Sergei Chetverukhin, Toller Cranston, John Misha Petkevich, etc
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2013
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