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

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Maofan7, Sep 26, 2012.

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

Poll closed Oct 27, 2012.
  1. Janet Lynn

    34 vote(s)
  2. Denise Biellmann

    12 vote(s)
  3. Don't Know

    2 vote(s)
  1. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Member

    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: Sep 27, 2012
  2. Tak

    Tak Well-Known Member

    Midori Ito.
  3. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Member

    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.
  5. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    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.
  7. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

    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.

    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. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. gingercrush

    gingercrush Well-Known Member

    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. Triple Butz

    Triple Butz Well-Known Member

    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. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Ito in 88 was a bouncy, bubbly kid. Her 89 LP presented a more mature Ito, and she had the 3A.
  12. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member


    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. :blah:

    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. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    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. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

    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. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

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

    pollyanna In denial

    Actually 1973 was her last chance to win the World title.

    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: Sep 27, 2012
  17. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    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. Jammers

    Jammers Well-Known Member

    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.
  19. jcopper

    jcopper New Member

    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.
  20. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    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: Sep 27, 2012
    Maofan7 and (deleted member) like this.
  21. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    Janet definitely from your choices. Biellmann was helped enormously by the introduction of the factored placement judging system in 1981. Even the fact that she doubled her combination in the SP couldn't stop her. If they still had the total points system in use then we may have been looking at someone like Wegelius as world champ!! :lol:

    I agree Ito was hurt by figures but also agree that even without them she would have won nothing major until '89. Perhaps Olympic bronze at best in '88 (which I agree would have been a travesty. She was clearly the very best there when you combine the SP & LP).
  22. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

    Also keep in mind that free skate scoring in that era didn't really utilize the spectrum of the 6.0 score as widely as was utilized in 1980s onwards. Compare that to the judging for figures, which used much more liberty in applying "gaps" between the skaters (which over 6 figures widened the overall gap after the figures segment).

    I think Trixie Schuba probably was top 10 in free skating, but I believe she'd need scores around the 5.0 range to be overtaken by Magnussen or Lynn, marks which were only applied to the last placed skaters.
  23. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

    Repeat Post
  24. Alex Forrest

    Alex Forrest Banned Member

    Midori Ito at 88 Olympics was sheer perfection. But it didn't matter. As TripleButz alluded to, just look at 87 NHK (which did not have figures) where a sloppy and off Witt still managed to beat Ito. Calgary would have been no different. So even without figures, Ito would have been denied.

    I understand being on home ice, but Manley even was way behind Ito and should not have won the FS. Both Ito and Manley were perky/energetic skaters and certainly not glamazons on ice, but I found Manley's choreo to be so contrived and little girly (Irma La Douce, are you serious?!) Considering Ito's lack of presentation, I think her choreographer was a genius with this program. Starting off right away with a nice layback, always doing something before or after a jump. I thought Ito KOd Manley here. And the SP? How Manley beat Ito in the short is still a mystery, except for home ice advantage.
  25. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    Witt and Manley were both held up in the SP. Ito, Kadavy, and Trenary all had much better performances. I didnt like Trenary's short much but she did cleanly (sort of) land a triple flip combo, you would think that would count for something. I had them 4th and 5th in the SP at best but they were 1st and 3rd. I didnt see Manley's figures, but I did see Witt's, and I have to believe she was majorly held up to place 3rd since the footage I saw they were awful. Someone like Trenary who is known for strong figures was only 5th, again I didnt see hers but as there was no reports of her choking and blowing them (eg- like the 87 Worlds) I have a hard time believing hers werent better.

    Still if I were a judge I admit I probably would have scored the LP 1. Manley, 2. Ito, 3. Witt, not because I thought Manley's program was better than Ito's but just knowing Ito had no chance of a medal anyway, and it was the only way for Witt to have lost the gold. It is amazing she went unbeaten that season when she wasnt even skating well really.