IF all ladies skated cleanly in Calgary '88 ....

viennese

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If the CF placements had remained the same and everyone had skated clean in the free, the top three would have been 1. Witt, 2. Thomas 3. Manley.

The judge's votes would have broken in favor of Witt (Dick Button mentioned the way the judges were leaning after both Witt and Thomas skated great in the short.).

It's hard to take a title away from a champion.
 

olympic

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If the CF placements had remained the same and everyone had skated clean in the free, the top three would have been 1. Witt, 2. Thomas 3. Manley.

The judge's votes would have broken in favor of Witt (Dick Button mentioned the way the judges were leaning after both Witt and Thomas skated great in the short.).

It's hard to take a title away from a champion.

I don't think the SP was instructive: I think Witt was elevated in the SP just to set up a serious showdown in the LP of a 'Battle of the Carmens', and this is not judging related, but there has been discussion in other threads about the SP in Calgary and a lot of people thought that Thomas as well as Ito and Kadavy skated better than Witt.

Also, I want to point out again that Witt skating 2nd in the final group (Manley 3rd; Thomas last) didn't pull great tech marks which was the tie-breaker in '88; IIRC, 2 5.6s, 4 5.7s, 3 5.8s, and the judges easily put Manley ahead of her in the LP, with Thomas still left to skate and knowing that she could go clean here based on the SP and her Nationals LP. I still think Thomas with a clean LP would've won (she only had to wedge herself between Manley and Witt in the LP and that range of marks was within her reach). Manley's marks were high but did not lock up 1st in the LP.
 

Maximillian

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I don't think the SP was instructive: I think Witt was elevated in the SP just to set up a serious showdown in the LP of a 'Battle of the Carmens', and this is not judging related, but there has been discussion in other threads about the SP in Calgary and a lot of people thought that Thomas as well as Ito and Kadavy skated better than Witt.

Also, I want to point out again that Witt skating 2nd in the final group (Manley 3rd; Thomas last) didn't pull great tech marks which was the tie-breaker in '88; IIRC, 2 5.6s, 4 5.7s, 3 5.8s, and the judges easily put Manley ahead of her in the LP, with Thomas still left to skate and knowing that she could go clean here based on the SP and her Nationals LP. I still think Thomas with a clean LP would've won (she only had to wedge herself between Manley and Witt in the LP and that range of marks was within her reach). Manley's marks were high but did not lock up 1st in the LP.
I agree with this, I also think that if both Witt and Thomas had hit their full 5 triple content ( 2 3tls, 2 3s, and 1 3r) and skated in the same order Thomas would have won has well. People might forget that just as charismatic as Witt was, Thomas could light up a crowd when she was on and skating well, as evidenced by her 'almost' clean skate at U.S. Nats. where she had the audience on their feet. I think a 5 triple Thomas skating last would have beaten a 5 triple Witt skating second in part because she would have brought the house down.
 

VGThuy

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I think people still have memories of 1987 Worlds where I believe Witt and Thomas were matched evenly in the jump content and it was Witt who brought the house down and won. Though, her West Side Story program was much better than her Carmen one, skating wise. But then Carmen was "iconic", so...and I guess her landing 5 triples was sort of a shock and added more excitement to Witt's performance. And she skated AFTER Debi whereas as you pointed out in Calgary, Thomas was skating after Witt.
 

Coco

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Thomas' '88 program seemed so much better than her '87 program, though. In terms of what the 2nd mark took into account, anyway.
 

olympic

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In a head to head at the Olympics, there were 3 differences from 87 as outlined above: WSS was a superior program to Carmen, Witt no longer was landing the 3L, and Thomas improved on the 2nd mark. I think in a nutshell that would have done it
 

Maximillian

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In a head to head at the Olympics, there were 3 differences from 87 as outlined above: WSS was a superior program to Carmen, Witt no longer was landing the 3L, and Thomas improved on the 2nd mark. I think in a nutshell that would have done it
ITA with all of the above.
 

Erin

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I'm still skeptical of even a clean Thomas being able to beat Witt with that judging panel. If we look at how the short program was marked, the US and Japan went for Thomas in the short and likely would have done so in the free if Thomas had skated better, but I think it's less likely with the other judges.

It's highly unlikely that East Germany or the Soviet Union would have gone for Thomas under any circumstances. As it was, they had Witt ahead of Manley in the free. So that leaves Canada, Switzerland, Great Britain, West Germany, and Czechoslovakia, and Thomas would need three of them to join US and Japan.

West Germany probably would have gone with Thomas with a cleaner skate - as it was, Thomas was only 0.1 behind Witt overall and beat Witt on the technical mark on West Germany's card. I could easily see Thomas getting another 0.1 on the technical and beating Witt in a tiebreaker.

Canada is a maybe - Canada's marks were Manley 5.8, 5.9; Witt 5.7, 5.9; Thomas 5.6, 5.7. Canada conceivably could have gone with 5.8, 5.8 for a clean Thomas, to put Thomas ahead of Witt but behind Manley. But I don't think we can say clearly.

But being generous, and assuming Canada does go for Thomas, she still needs one of Switzerland, Great Britain, or Czechoslovakia. And that's where I think the argument falls down. These three judges, along with East Germany, were the harshest on Thomas compared to Witt as it was. All three also gave Thomas 0.2 lower than Witt in the SP on the artistic mark, so I think it's fair to say that they were not big fans of Thomas's skating. And in the free, the Swiss and Czechoslovakian judges gave Manley 5.9, 5.8 and Witt 5.8, 5.9, with Manley winning the tiebreak, so there was no way to put Thomas in between them. If they wanted Thomas ahead of Witt, they would have had to give Thomas 5.9, 5.9. Considering how they marked her as is, that wasn't happening. The British judge was the only one who had some room - she gave Witt 5.6, 5.9, so she could have put Thomas ahead with something like 5.8, 5.7, but I think that's still a stretch.

Thomas's path to a gold medal was if Witt messed up in the SP, a la 1986.

And I have officially spent way too much time on this.
 
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olympic

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I'm still skeptical of even a clean Thomas being able to beat Witt with that judging panel. If we look at how the short program was marked, the US and Japan went for Thomas in the short and likely would have done so in the free if Thomas had skated better, but I think it's less likely with the other judges.

It's highly unlikely that East Germany or the Soviet Union would have gone for Thomas under any circumstances. As it was, they had Witt ahead of Manley in the free. So that leaves Canada, Switzerland, Great Britain, West Germany, and Czechoslovakia, and Thomas would need three of them to join US and Japan.

West Germany probably would have gone with Thomas with a cleaner skate - as it was, Thomas was only 0.1 behind Witt overall and beat Witt on the technical mark on West Germany's card. I could easily see Thomas getting another 0.1 on the technical and beating Witt in a tiebreaker.

Canada is a maybe - Canada's marks were Manley 5.8, 5.9; Witt 5.7, 5.9; Thomas 5.6, 5.7. Canada conceivably could have gone with 5.8, 5.8 for a clean Thomas, to put Thomas ahead of Witt but behind Manley. But I don't think we can say clearly.

But being generous, and assuming Canada does go for Thomas, she still needs one of Switzerland, Great Britain, or Czechoslovakia. And that's where I think the argument falls down. These three judges, along with East Germany, were the harshest on Thomas compared to Witt as it was. All three also gave Thomas 0.2 lower than Witt in the SP on the artistic mark, so I think it's fair to say that they were not big fans of Thomas's skating. And in the free, the Swiss and Czechoslovakian judges gave Manley 5.9, 5.8 and Witt 5.8, 5.9, with Manley winning the tiebreak, so there was no way to put Thomas in between them. If they wanted Thomas ahead of Witt, they would have had to give Thomas 5.9, 5.9. Considering how they marked her as is, that wasn't happening. The British judge was the only one who had some room - she gave Witt 5.6, 5.9, so she could have put Thomas ahead with something like 5.8, 5.7, but I think that's still a stretch.

Thomas's path to a gold medal was if Witt messed up in the SP, a la 1986.

And I have officially spent way too much time on this.

You yourself just did a great job showing that there was a path for Thomas based on the judging breakdown. No reason why the judge from GBR would not slot Thomas into a win with her 3-3, 3L, superior spins to Witt. I agree somewhat that the judge from CZE was not thrilled with Thomas in the SP, although that may have had to do with distaste with Dead or Alive and the unitard. Her LP music was much different, and skating last with all her elements in place may have become an emotional performance. Debi was like that: Performance level shot up with a clean performance and elevated the 2nd mark
 

VGThuy

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What was Debi Thomas’ best performance of Carmen? What was Witt’s?
 

Maximillian

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You yourself just did a great job showing that there was a path for Thomas based on the judging breakdown. No reason why the judge from GBR would not slot Thomas into a win with her 3-3, 3L, superior spins to Witt. I agree somewhat that the judge from CZE was not thrilled with Thomas in the SP, although that may have had to do with distaste with Dead or Alive and the unitard. Her LP music was much different, and skating last with all her elements in place may have become an emotional performance. Debi was like that: Performance level shot up with a clean performance and elevated the 2nd mark
I agree, I also think Witt's SP was a far superior program to her LP. I loved Debi's SP, but I wasn't stunned when Witt took the 2nd mark, the SP (and the unitard) were a bit 'progressive', while neither were turning over any tables in their choice of Carmen for the LP. In case you can't tell, I much preferred Thomas' Carmen (per Nationals) to Witt's. Love the ending straightline fw sequence.
 

olympic

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What was Debi Thomas’ best performance of Carmen? What was Witt’s?

Good question. Her 88 Worlds LP was actually a little less focused (she still won the LP I think due to mistakes by Manley and Ito) and I don’t recall her 87 NHK LP to have been all that great. Maybe Euros was good (?)

I think Debi’s Nationals LP was the best version of Carmen; one doubled jump. Someone said her 87 SC was well skated but I think by Nationals the performance had gelled a bit more
 

pollyanna

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I think people still have memories of 1987 Worlds where I believe Witt and Thomas were matched evenly in the jump content and it was Witt who brought the house down and won. Though, her West Side Story program was much better than her Carmen one, skating wise. But then Carmen was "iconic", so...and I guess her landing 5 triples was sort of a shock and added more excitement to Witt's performance. And she skated AFTER Debi whereas as you pointed out in Calgary, Thomas was skating after Witt.
Thomas 2 footed her 3 loop and it looked like she may have 2 footed her final 3 salchow as well. Even so, she got a standing ovation. Witt fell on her 3 loop right in front of the judges during warm-up, but nailed a big one in her program. I also believe Debi’s weird mix of music did her no favors, whereas Witt’s program was more cohesive. Witt deservedly brought the house down.
 

Weve3

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I'm still skeptical of even a clean Thomas being able to beat Witt with that judging panel. If we look at how the short program was marked, the US and Japan went for Thomas in the short and likely would have done so in the free if Thomas had skated better, but I think it's less likely with the other judges.

It's highly unlikely that East Germany or the Soviet Union would have gone for Thomas under any circumstances. As it was, they had Witt ahead of Manley in the free. So that leaves Canada, Switzerland, Great Britain, West Germany, and Czechoslovakia, and Thomas would need three of them to join US and Japan.

West Germany probably would have gone with Thomas with a cleaner skate - as it was, Thomas was only 0.1 behind Witt overall and beat Witt on the technical mark on West Germany's card. I could easily see Thomas getting another 0.1 on the technical and beating Witt in a tiebreaker.

Canada is a maybe - Canada's marks were Manley 5.8, 5.9; Witt 5.7, 5.9; Thomas 5.6, 5.7. Canada conceivably could have gone with 5.8, 5.8 for a clean Thomas, to put Thomas ahead of Witt but behind Manley. But I don't think we can say clearly.

But being generous, and assuming Canada does go for Thomas, she still needs one of Switzerland, Great Britain, or Czechoslovakia. And that's where I think the argument falls down. These three judges, along with East Germany, were the harshest on Thomas compared to Witt as it was. All three also gave Thomas 0.2 lower than Witt in the SP on the artistic mark, so I think it's fair to say that they were not big fans of Thomas's skating. And in the free, the Swiss and Czechoslovakian judges gave Manley 5.9, 5.8 and Witt 5.8, 5.9, with Manley winning the tiebreak, so there was no way to put Thomas in between them. If they wanted Thomas ahead of Witt, they would have had to give Thomas 5.9, 5.9. Considering how they marked her as is, that wasn't happening. The British judge was the only one who had some room - she gave Witt 5.6, 5.9, so she could have put Thomas ahead with something like 5.8, 5.7, but I think that's still a stretch.

Thomas's path to a gold medal was if Witt messed up in the SP, a la 1986.

And I have officially spent way too much time on this.
This is a brilliant, spot-on post. Everything recounted here is precisely why a clean Witt would have still managed to defeat a clean Thomas. The political aspect can not and should not be ignored or underestimated. It was alive and well.
 

olympic

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This is a brilliant, spot-on post. Everything recounted here is precisely why a clean Witt would have still managed to defeat a clean Thomas. The political aspect can not and should not be ignored or underestimated. It was alive and well.

I am confounded that people have a hard time believing that an international judge would give Thomas a 5.8/5.7. She was the USFSA #1, '86 WC, '87 WSM, skating with a 3-3, 3L and superior spins and FW, and in '88 the skating world made a big buzz about her focus on the 2nd mark. Her marks at '87 Worlds ranged from 5.7-5.9 (that's by memory), so there is plenty of evidence to suggest that she would have gotten the job done. As far as a 5.9/5.9 from the Swiss judge: IDK the history of that judge in re Thomas. If one is basing that it was 'impossible' for Thomas in the LP because of the marking in the SP, keep in mind that the themes, choreography, costuming, etc. for the SP and LP were polar opposites. Also, a lot of times judges under 6.0 system just scored on a higher level, IOW higher marks all around. Thomas skating last perfectly would have allowed for such a judge to give away a 5.9/5.9. I agree that the CZE judge dumped Thomas and would probably not have placed her any higher than 3rd. But @Erin even posted that Thomas only needed one judge GBR, SUI and CZE (It was a good analysis, BTW), so the job would've gotten done.
 

Weve3

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I am confounded that people have a hard time believing that an international judge would give Thomas a 5.8/5.7. She was the USFSA #1, '86 WC, '87 WSM, skating with a 3-3, 3L and superior spins and FW, and in '88 the skating world made a big buzz about her focus on the 2nd mark. Her marks at '87 Worlds ranged from 5.7-5.9 (that's by memory), so there is plenty of evidence to suggest that she would have gotten the job done. As far as a 5.9/5.9 from the Swiss judge: IDK the history of that judge in re Thomas. If one is basing that it was 'impossible' for Thomas in the LP because of the marking in the SP, keep in mind that the themes, choreography, costuming, etc. for the SP and LP were polar opposites. Also, a lot of times judges under 6.0 system just scored on a higher level, IOW higher marks all around. Thomas skating last perfectly would have allowed for such a judge to give away a 5.9/5.9. I agree that the CZE judge dumped Thomas and would probably not have placed her any higher than 3rd. But @Erin even posted that Thomas only needed one judge GBR, SUI and CZE (It was a good analysis, BTW), so the job would've gotten done.
To make that determination would be to pass over politically-charged (biased) judging panel(s) of the day, giving them the benefit of the doubt and a lot of wiggle room, which simply did not exist or very infrequently, especially at the Olympic Games. Back in the day, judging blocs remained unified.

Unless Katarina had an error-filled skate, gold was hers to lose. Politics affected and influenced everything due to the fact the Olympic Games were a springboard for hard-core (manipulative) behaviors, politically-charged statements, posturing, loyalties, and revealing alliances.

Debi's résumé was not much of a factor, despite being the USA's number one lady, etc. It sounds harsh, but in the past, primarily, the Olympic Games have been used to signal strength and send the message of a political nature. It seems excessive, but sports were and continue to be a tool to make political statements or display government or country posturing. So, unless the athlete made it impossible to validate their victory by bungling their program, it wasn't much of a contest. The gold medalist was predetermined.

Debi and Katarina competed at a time when a lot of decisions about the outcome were out of their control in a very significant way. All judged sports are that way to a certain extent, back then, notably so.

Rivals and their supposedly Olympic nail-biting competitions will always be promoted to draw in the audience and entice the viewer, but the smoke-filled room does exist.

As gymnasts will say, "there's everything else, and then there's the Olympics."
 

olympic

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To make that determination would be to pass over politically-charged (biased) judging panel(s) of the day, giving them the benefit of the doubt and a lot of wiggle room, which simply did not exist or very infrequently, especially at the Olympic Games. Back in the day, judging blocs remained unified.

Unless Katarina had an error-filled skate, gold was hers to lose. Politics affected and influenced everything due to the fact the Olympic Games were a springboard for hard-core (manipulative) behaviors, politically-charged statements, posturing, loyalties, and revealing alliances.

Debi's résumé was not much of a factor, despite being the USA's number one lady, etc. It sounds harsh, but in the past, primarily, the Olympic Games have been used to signal strength and send the message of a political nature. It seems excessive, but sports were and continue to be a tool to make political statements or display government or country posturing. So, unless the athlete made it impossible to validate their victory by bungling their program, it wasn't much of a contest. The gold medalist was predetermined.

Debi and Katarina competed at a time when a lot of decisions about the outcome were out of their control in a very significant way. All judged sports are that way to a certain extent, back then, notably so.

Rivals and their supposedly Olympic nail-biting competitions will always be promoted to draw in the audience and entice the viewer, but the smoke-filled room does exist.

As gymnasts will say, "there's everything else, and then there's the Olympics."

agree 2 disagree
 

AxelAnnie

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I remember watching this on tv. I still remember thinking that Debi looked defeated when she skated out to center ice. She just looked (to me) that she was mentally not there.
 

olympic

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I remember watching this on tv. I still remember thinking that Debi looked defeated when she skated out to center ice. She just looked (to me) that she was mentally not there.

It was strange! She had done well in both figures and SP. It may have been the stress of leading after the SP, or in light of recently disclosed facts about her life and mental well-being, perhaps she was battling something worse. She had once said that she was an 'all-or-nothing girl'. It may be that after the 2-foot UR on the 3-3, she understood her performance was going to be imperfect and lost that 110% drive to win right then and there.
 

Erin

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I am confounded that people have a hard time believing that an international judge would give Thomas a 5.8/5.7. I agree that the CZE judge dumped Thomas and would probably not have placed her any higher than 3rd. But @Erin even posted that Thomas only needed one judge GBR, SUI and CZE (It was a good analysis, BTW), so the job would've gotten done.

It's not that I have a hard time believing that "an international judge" would give Thomas 5.8, 5.7. I have a hard time believing that specific British judge would, based on how the judge marked the program as it was. And my post that Thomas needed only one judge was with the assumption that she got the Canadian judge, which I feel like was far from a guarantee. If I had to handicap it, I would say the chances of a clean Thomas getting a vote ahead of Witt would be something like:
USA: 100%
JPN, FRG: 95%
CAN: 60%
GBR: 30%
SUI, CZE: 5%
GDR, URS: 0%

It's not impossible. But it's also not the slam dunk so many seem to think it is.

Anyway, I think the real problem with these Olympic results is that I can't find any realistic way to get Midori Ito on the podium, even if she wins the short and long.

It was strange! She had done well in both figures and SP. It may have been the stress of leading after the SP, or in light of recently disclosed facts about her life and mental well-being, perhaps she was battling something worse. She had once said that she was an 'all-or-nothing girl'. It may be that after the 2-foot UR on the 3-3, she understood her performance was going to be imperfect and lost that 110% drive to win right then and there.

Thomas talked about it in Little Girls in Pretty Boxes. She was already struggling prior to Calgary, saying that she remembers telling her mom she didn't want to go. She also wanted to take a week off after Nationals and then build up to a peak for the Olympics, but her coach said no. When she got to Calgary, she didn't feel like she was having the Olympic experience and says she remembers thinking at one time "If you don't skate well, you're going to die." She said that when she was waiting for her music, she had this moment where she knew she didn't have it and instead of fighting back and telling herself to "get her act together", she "gave in" and hoped she could just rely on training/muscle memory for her body to just do it. It sounds like she lost her fight before the free and then when she made the first mistake, she completely checked out since for her it was gold or nothing, as you point out.

Interestingly, she comes across pretty well-adjusted in that book, which came out in 1995 - it talks about her "flourishing" in med school, how her wounds have mostly healed, and that she realized after the Olympics that her life wasn't over just because she didn't skate well. It's sad to think about how she went downhill after that.
 
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Maximillian

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In light of what happened in the men's event, wherein, the two World Champions from the previous two years came into the Freeskate with the exact same placement in the two previous phases of the competition as Thomas and Witt (Boitano 2nd in Figures, Orser 3rd; Boitano 2nd in SP, Orser in 1st) and the judging panel was made up judges from the exact SAME countries as the ladies event save one (the men had Denmark, the women had GB), I don't think it's too far fetched that had Thomas skated lights out ala Boitano, and Witt skated a strong but conservative program ala Orser(you could argue omitting the 3R) that Thomas could have won.
 
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viennese

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I think people still have memories of 1987 Worlds where I believe Witt and Thomas were matched evenly in the jump content and it was Witt who brought the house down and won. Though, her West Side Story program was much better than her Carmen one, skating wise. But then Carmen was "iconic", so...and I guess her landing 5 triples was sort of a shock and added more excitement to Witt's performance. And she skated AFTER Debi whereas as you pointed out in Calgary, Thomas was skating after Witt.


Yes, I am definitely going by what happened in 1987. You're right, Witt's West Side Story was a barn burner. The crowd went crazy for the music and what she did on the ice. Her Carmen was dramatic and risky, but Thomas' music choices played to the crowd. I wish we'd seen them both skate full out.
 

Louis

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I am confounded that people have a hard time believing that an international judge would give Thomas a 5.8/5.7. She was the USFSA #1, '86 WC, '87 WSM, skating with a 3-3, 3L and superior spins and FW

For me, Witt had far superior spins: faster, more revolutions, more difficult positions. Thomas's spins in the free skate were lazy, even by '88 standards, aside from the layback (but even there I preferred Witt's).

It may be that after the 2-foot UR on the 3-3, she understood her performance was going to be imperfect and lost that 110% drive to win right then and there.

She gave an interview to that extent, even before the 1995 interview Erin cited.
 

allezfred

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Most importantly Thomas’s Carmen was a bag of shite. The comparison to one of the most iconic figure skating programmes ever did her no favours. :shuffle:
 

floskate

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It's not that I have a hard time believing that "an international judge" would give Thomas 5.8, 5.7. I have a hard time believing that specific British judge would, based on how the judge marked the program as it was. And my post that Thomas needed only one judge was with the assumption that she got the Canadian judge, which I feel like was far from a guarantee. If I had to handicap it, I would say the chances of a clean Thomas getting a vote ahead of Witt would be something like:
USA: 100%
JPN, FRG: 95%
CAN: 60%
GBR: 30%
SUI, CZE: 5%
GDR, URS: 0%

The British judge was Sally Stapleford. She actually gave an interview to one of the UK networks - maybe ITV during 1988 Worlds? - stating that Thomas wasn't as talented as Witt and was more of a "manufactured skater". Never forgotten that.

Most importantly Thomas’s Carmen was a bag of shite. The comparison to one of the most iconic figure skating programmes ever did her no favours. :shuffle:

I mean, this is so true. I remember all the hype and reading about Baryshnikov's influence and was thinking this battle of the Carmen's was going to be mega, but we already had seen Witt's Carmen in Europe via the 1988 Europeans where she had received brilliant artistic marks for both short AND long. We never got US Nationals and rarely any coverage of fall internationals so the first time I saw Debi's Carmen was in Calgary and despite the errors, it was HUGELY underwhelming in comparison!
 

antmanb

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In light of what happened in the men's event, wherein, the two World Champions from the previous two years came into the Freeskate with the exact same placement in the two previous phases of the competition as Thomas and Witt (Boitano 2nd in Figures, Orser 3rd; Boitano 2nd in SP, Orser in 1st) and the judging panel was made up judges from the exact SAME countries as the ladies event save one (the men had Denmark, the women had GB), I don't think it's too far fetched that had Thomas skated lights out ala Boitano, and Witt skated a strong but conservative program ala Orser(you could argue omitting the 3R) that Thomas could have won.

I don't see how that is even a comparison. Boitano from the US and Orser from Canada is definitely not going to split that panel in the way Thomas from the US and Witt from East Germany is going to because there isn't the same voting within the blocks in the men's event - they're both skaters from the west.
 

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