Missing ladies at the Olympics since 1984

olympic

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Even if Worlds were held this year, things in FSU World would have slowed down precipitously anyway. Time for the Trash Can!

One of my favorite things is skating speculation from past competition, and I wanted to start a thread on prominent ladies missing from each Olympiad due to: (1) retirement within the quad; (2) illness; (3)injury, or (4) even lack of spots from the federation. I start with 1984 because with ordinals in place, that seemed to be the beginning of a dynamic period in skating world:

BTW, if you can think of anyone else, please feel free to add them ...

1984: Denise Biellmann, Claudia Kristofics-Binder, Kristiiina Wegelius, Midori Ito

Biellmann - 1981 World Champ; ahead technically of any other lady w/ a 3Z and improved in figures since Lake Placid (may have been political, but wasn't it always?). She had shown in her career a successful attempt at every triple except the 3F. I believe she landed 4 triples at Lake Placid, which was still ahead of Witt or Sumners in 1984. Does anyone doubt that she would have shaken up the Kat v. Roz show?

Kristofics Binder - 1981/82 World Bronze Medals; 1982 Euro Champ (edging out Witt). A powerhouse in Figures and could get a 3T done for the SP. IIRC, she was usually 1st after Figures when competing. I don't think she would have been a huge medal threat, but she could have screwed with placements of key individuals like Witt or even Sumners in the figures

Wegelius - Retired after 1983 Worlds. Another powerhouse in Figures. Could have messed with the results.

Ito - Failed miserably at 1984 JPN Nationals, but went onto finish 7th at Worlds; was capable of 3L combo in the SP, which was a big deal at the time. However, finished terribly in figures.

1988: Caryn Kadavy, Tracey Wainman

Kadavy - 1987 World Bronze Medalist and US team member in 1986 and 1987. As we all know, she WD after the SP due to influenza. IDK if she could have threatened for a medal because judging by the Figures and SP. It looked like she was getting dumped. She also did not fare well at 1988 Worlds but that could have been lack of motivation after what happened at the Olympics.

Wainman [Canada #2] - What happened to her? She had been around as a young skater post Lake Placid, and even finished top 10 at 1986 Worlds; 5th after Figures. She seemed like a better competitor than Charlene Wong.

1992: Evelin Grossmann, Natalia Lebedeva

Grossmann - Jutta Mueller pupil and GDR star post-Witt, she had some impressive finishes in this Olympic cycle; 7th at 1989 Worlds, 8th at 1990 Worlds; 1990 Euro Champ. Stronger in the LP. Did she simply fall down the rankings in a unified Germany against Westerners like Kiehlmann and Neske?

Lebedeva - Soviet veteran. I realize that her strong suit the figures were gone, but she usually held her own in the SP and LP, but the Unified Team sent Vorobieva and Rachkova. Did she simply retire with the Figures gone?

1994: Olga Markova, Maria Butyrskaya, Michelle Kwan

Butyrskaya's disastrous performance at 1993 Worlds left Russia w/o a competitor in Lillehamer. I assume that Markova and Butyrskaya would have been the probable entries at the Olympics. They were 3rd and 4th at 1994 Euros only behind Bonaly and Baiul, but ahead of Szewczenko. I believe they could have been in the final group. However, I don't think they could have medalled.

Kwan - IF the US had 3 spots, would she have been sent to Lillehamer? Was the penultimate group a reach? She was old enough for Worlds, but was she age-eligible per IOC rules at the time?

1998: Tanja Szewczenko, Krisztina Czako

Szewczenko - I think based on the results at the Olympics and judging by her 1997 CSF finish, she would have been a bronze medal threat at Nagano. Then again, she floundered at 1998 Worlds. Like Chen Lu, her own story was very inspirational. IDK

Czako - IIRC, she broke her leg and couldn't compete. I do think she would have been definite top 10 at Nagano, but how high in this field, IDK

2002: Shizuka Arakawa, Tatiana Malinina

I don't think these ladies at the time would have even influenced the final group, but Arakawa would be top 10 in 2003 and climb to the top of the podium in 2004, which would have made her appearance here interesting. IIRC, JSF had a rule in place that automatically allowed Yoshie Onda to compete at SLC. I think Arakawa would've been a better 2nd choice for JPN behind Fumie.

Didn't Malinina WD after the SP. She was a shadow of her 1999 self, so I don't think her participation would have been impactful to the top 10.

2006: Michelle Kwan, Viktoria Volchkova

BIG one - Kwan. Based on her 2005 Worlds results, she would have finished around 4th w/ Fumie, but would she have been rewarded in PCS skating to Mao's 2010 LP music? She stated in a TSL interview that the music suited her mood at the time. Also, nagging injury since 2002 probably kept her from fulfilling her potential over the previous years. Sasha, Irina and Shiz were pretty much in control at Torino. Could MK have made a difference?

Volchkova - Worth a mention: She was on the comeback trail but reinjured herself prior to Torino (?). Slute and Cupcake were still probably the best from Russia, but Vika was always in the running at Worlds around 2003 and 2004

2010: Yukari Nakano, Ashley Wagner, Sasha Cohen

Nakano - Medal threat in 2008; arguments could be made that team should have been Mao, Akiko and Yukari due to Miki's poor finish at JPN Nationals. Would she have performed better than Akiko or Miki at Vancouver? She had a 3A, but I think URs crept in which were deadly in this olympic cycle.

Wagner - Also worth a mention. Pre-Nicks and Raf, I don't know if she had the goods overall to finish beyond 10th place or so, but she could have been the #3 American behind Flatt and Nagasu.

Cohen - She finished 4th at US Nationals, but if she had made a theoretical US team w/ 3 spots, would the judges have rewarded solid programs? I don't think she could have been a threat to Joannie Rochette and her inspirational skates, though. Also, I don't even know if she would have beaten Nagasu in 4th that night.

2014: Anna Pogorilaya

I don't recall competitors missing from Sochi as such, but Russia only had 2 spots. Pogo as the #3 Russian lady would have been a strong competitor and may have landed in the final group based on 2014 World Championships.

2018: Ashley Wagner

Wagner - SIGH. 2016 World Silver Medalist. The final results for US ladies was abysmal, I do think she could have done at least a little better than 9th, but maybe not

THANKS for reading, and I would enjoy any input.
 

viennese

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1984
Biellmann - 1981 World Champ; ahead technically of any other lady w/ a 3Z and improved in figures since Lake Placid (may have been political, but wasn't it always?). She had shown in her career a successful attempt at every triple except the 3F. I believe she landed 4 triples at Lake Placid, which was still ahead of Witt or Sumners in 1984. Does anyone doubt that she would have shaken up the Kat v. Roz show?

I remember reading that Biellmann was tempted - forced- to turn pro due to lack of funds for training. The athletes of her era had stricter rules - no payments for skating on tours or TV shows. Some had private sponsorships by "angels" - figure skating fans, but corporate funding was not allowed, not even trust funds. That changed after 1984.

Biellmann maintained amazing fitness throughout her pro career. I have no doubt that she would have figured in the medals in 1984
 

Vagabond

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2014: Mirai Nagasu. She pulled it all together for the two Olympics she did attend and probably would have been the second-placed American woman and might have had a share of a Team medal if she had competed at Sochi. The USFSA's "body of work" system was -- and is -- a piece of . . . work.
 

ldec

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Wainman [Canada #2] - What happened to her? She had been around as a young skater post Lake Placid, and even finished top 10 at 1986 Worlds; 5th after Figures. She seemed like a better competitor than Charlene Wong.

She kind of seems to have burned out due to young age pressure and problems associated with growth that all ladies experience. She returned for a short time at the 1986 Worlds and had a pretty respectable showing, finishing 10th. After that, she retired for good to pursue family life and show skating (she was married to Jozef Sabovcik for a period of time and they met at the 1986 Worlds). Nowadays, she's coaching.

Here is an excellent article on her life and career that sheds more light:
 

caseyedwards

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I want to say Cohens performance at 2010 US nationals was almost far far better than anticipated based on her withdrawing from everything and her lack of real training! while it’s obvious it was nationals and Olympics and that’s it if she continued she may have done pretty well at worlds 2010! !!!
 

bardtoob

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2014: Mirai Nagasu. She pulled it all together for the two Olympics she did attend and probably would have been the second-placed American woman and might have had a share of a Team medal if she had competed at Sochi. The USFSA's "body of work" system was -- and is -- a piece of . . . work.

That was a bad situation, and it was pathetic that so-called more prepared skater in 2014 could be outperform by somebody without private ice time taking adhoc lessons.

However, it did push Mirai to perform the most difficult set of jumps in an LP at the 2018 Olympics and have the skate of her life she had wanted since elementary school.
 
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AngieNikodinovLove

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2002

Angela Nikodinov

But the trifecta of Sasha, Michelle and Sarah..... she would be better off to had represented Bulgaria that year.

Currently in USA gymnastics Tim and Nastia always say..."We could send out ladies Team B to the Olys and they also would win the Gold." ... because there is so much talent....

In 02 we could have sent Nikodinov (4th), Kirk (5th) and McDonough (6th) and they would probably all fare well too.

I also think of Czisny... she never attended an Olys..... I guess 06 and 10 would have been her years.
 
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olympic

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2018- Wakaba Higuchi. Silver at the World Championships just a few weeks later, and would have brought the house down if she'd performed her 'Bond' program the same way she did at the World Champs or Cup of China the previous autumn.

Yes. I forgot about JPNs situation in 2018 where they were down to 2 ladies: Wakaba would definitely have been definitely been a key figure
 

Jeschke

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Nakano - Medal threat in 2008; arguments could be made that team should have been Mao, Akiko and Yukari due to Miki's poor finish at JPN Nationals. Would she have performed better than Akiko or Miki at Vancouver? She had a 3A, but I think URs crept in which were deadly in this olympic cycle.
Of course I have to step in for Miki :D
Miki won both GP events that season. Akiko 1st and 5th. Yukari. 3rd and 4th.
Miki came in 2nd at GPF, has beaten Kim in the SP there.
Nomination criteria back then said: best JPN finisher at nationals gets a ticket. So I guess Miki's finish at nationals should be seen in that regard. She showed with 5th at Olympics and 4th at worlds (robbed of bronze :drama: :p ) that she earned her spot. 2010 was Miki's most constant season imho.

I cannot recall the difference between Yukari and Akiko at nationals, but it was very close iirc. As they both have had a mixed pre-season, I was fine with the results who got sent, but pretty pissed she Yukari did not get worlds later.

Still, I always had a soft spot for Nakano and would have prefered seeing her in Vancouver over Akiko. Imho both her programs that season did not play her strength. 2008 was her year. Robbed of a medal, if not even gold there for me.
 

aliceanne

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Kimmie Meissner was a World Champion who never made it to the Olympics. Her peak was between ages 14-16. By the time she was age eligible she had already faded.
 

gkelly

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Kimmie Meissner was a World Champion who never made it to the Olympics. Her peak was between ages 14-16. By the time she was age eligible she had already faded.

Not true. She attended the 2006 Olympics and finished 6th.

Then she went to 2006 Worlds and won.

It would not have been possible for her to win Worlds before she was age eligible for Olympics -- the age limits are the same for both.

It is true that she was unable to continue competing until 2010, or at the same level beyond 2006 or 07, but she had already attended the first Olympics for which she was eligible.
 

aliceanne

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Not true. She attended the 2006 Olympics and finished 6th.

Then she went to 2006 Worlds and won.

It would not have been possible for her to win Worlds before she was age eligible for Olympics -- the age limits are the same for both.

It is true that she was unable to continue competing until 2010, or at the same level beyond 2006 or 07, but she had already attended the first Olympics for which she was eligible.

OK I didn’t remember her going.
 

VGThuy

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Akiko Suzuki was the highlight of that entire 2009-2010 season for me. Poor Nakano though. She was edged off the 2006 team due to Japan's stringent BOW rules, then they changed it and those old BOW rules that cost her an Olympic spot in 2006 could have helped her for the 2010 Olympics. Oh well. Nakano's Moulin Rouge SP is still my personal favorite Moulin Rouge program and at 2008 Worlds, before the UR thing and IJS was beaten into my head and I was still viewing things under a 6.0 lens, I thought she won 2008 Worlds after she skated.
 

Maximillian

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I felt it was a shame that Mao Asada was age ineligible for the 2006 Olympics. She had already beaten the 3 medalists the previous year and was the best skater at the time. That would’ve been an interesting Olympics if Kwan and Asada were there.
I sort of agree with this, if memory serves, Mao won GPF over Cohen just before the Olympics. As a Sasha fan I was relieved at the time that Mao was age ineligible, but as I have become a Mao fan it seems like it was her best shot to win Olympic gold. With that said, I'm still sort of glad Mao didn't go as I prefer Sasha to have an Olympic silver over a bronze.
 

essence_of_soy

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I recall reading somewhere that Denise Biellmann was one of the professionals considering reinstatement for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. It makes sense, because during the pro season following those games, her fitness level was through the roof. She even beat the likes of Chouinard, Witt, Sato and Baiul in some of the professional competitions they went head-to-head in.

Elizabeth Manley was also another professional who was considering reinstating in the lead up to the Nagano Olympics.
 

Maximillian

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Biellman has to be the biggest 'what if' in turning pro too early. Her tech content was through the roof and by 1981 obviously had enough cred to be in the ballgame after figures. Even had she returned ten years later a podium spot in Lillehammer wasn't out of the realm of possibility given her tech content.
 

olympic

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Biellman has to be the biggest 'what if' in turning pro too early. Her tech content was through the roof and by 1981 obviously had enough cred to be in the ballgame after figures. Even had she returned ten years later a podium spot in Lillehammer wasn't out of the realm of possibility given her tech content.

YES! I was thinking about her tech content:

In 1984, IIRC, the top ladies in the SP were all doing a 3T-combo anyway which Biellmann executed quite well in 1980. Her amplitude and spins would have probably been measured as better vs. Witt or Sumners, and given her an edge if the SP was clean.

Plus, she was not a winner in the Figures, but was probably better than Witt after 1980. Witt was elevated to 3rd in Sarajevo, and I think it's reasonable to assume that Biellmann would have been right around there.

In the LP at Lake Placid 1980, I believe she had planned 3Z, 2 3T's and 2 3S's, possibly a 3L, but ended up executing 4 triples. FTR, I don't think she would have ever executed 6 triples, but 4-5 triples were within the realm of possibility, and was still better tech content than Witt with 4 planned / 3 executed triples at Sarajevo [she didn't have a loop yet, and her Flip was always shaky], or Sumners with 3-4 planned [Sal and Toe only], but executing only 2 IIRC. There was definitely a clear path to Gold in 1984.

BTW, I honestly think Biellmann's LPs were the most technically demanding programs until Ito came along. ETA - I think Manley was right there and had a 3Z, but she didn't do combos in her LP. Biellmann may have well been competitive in 1988, when ladies were still doing 3T-combos in the SP, and Witt / Thomas / Manley / Kadavy / Trenary were all aiming for 5 triple LPs. Ito was a star with 7 triples.

ETA #2- If ANY SKATER needed and deserved a GoFundMe, it was Denise Biellmann. She theoretically would've added a level of interest to ladies thru Sarajevo, but possibly up to Calgary in 1988.
 
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olympic

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Of course I have to step in for Miki :D
Miki won both GP events that season. Akiko 1st and 5th. Yukari. 3rd and 4th.
Miki came in 2nd at GPF, has beaten Kim in the SP there.
Nomination criteria back then said: best JPN finisher at nationals gets a ticket. So I guess Miki's finish at nationals should be seen in that regard. She showed with 5th at Olympics and 4th at worlds (robbed of bronze :drama: :p ) that she earned her spot. 2010 was Miki's most constant season imho.

I cannot recall the difference between Yukari and Akiko at nationals, but it was very close iirc. As they both have had a mixed pre-season, I was fine with the results who got sent, but pretty pissed she Yukari did not get worlds later.

Still, I always had a soft spot for Nakano and would have prefered seeing her in Vancouver over Akiko. Imho both her programs that season did not play her strength. 2008 was her year. Robbed of a medal, if not even gold there for me.

I guess my question is would Nakano have finished higher than Suzuki in Vancouver?
 

VGThuy

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I guess my question is would Nakano have finished higher than Suzuki in Vancouver?

Hard to say. We can’t just go by past results but since it’s all we have, it’s all we can use. Suzuki was on a roll that season. She won Cup of China, placed third in the GPF (was within 3 points of Ando in the LP there) beating World medalist and eventual Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette, beat Nakano at Japanese Nationals, and was second at 4CC where Nakano did not compete. In the GP, Nakano’s best score was like 11 points lower than Suzuki’s. Suzuki’s total score at the Olympics was like 16-17 points higher than Nakano’s best score internationally that season. Her SP wasn’t perfect there but her TES WAS within range of 7th place Kostner and in the LP, her TES was within range of bronze medalist Joannie Rochette. Places 4-8 at 2010 were pretty close and within 9 points of each other. Considering all of that, even if Nakano hypothetically placed higher than Suzuki, just going by scores that season, I don’t think it would have been much higher to warrant ignoring a GP win, a GPF medal, a 4CC medal, and a higher Nationals placement. Any other result would not have been fair, IMO. It’s not as if Yukari was a reigning world medalist or won a GP event or placed ahead of Suzuki at any moment that season nor were her best scores on par.
 
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Maximillian

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As I recall, she seemed frail at that competition. Frail for a figure skater, I mean.

I agree with this and Sasha is in another stratosphere for me in terms of favorite skaters, like galaxies ahead of my next favorite but I was not pleased with how frail she looked at Nationals that year. I have no evidence of this but I do sometimes suspect that for Sasha 'off-ice' training meant...dieting.
 

Frau Muller

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I’d add Tiffany Chin to the names of ladies who should’ve/could’ve been in 1988. She finished 4th in 1984 and made podium at Worlds in following years then surprised everyone by turning pro a year or two before 1988, even though she was still very young. She was a big rival of Debi Thomas so perhaps she threw in the towel after Debi won Worlds in ‘86? I always thought that Tiffany had the goods to have improved after ‘86 with the right support system (eg, less influence of her notoriously pushy mom).
 

essence_of_soy

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I’d add Tiffany Chin to the names of ladies who should’ve/could’ve been in 1988. She finished 4th in 1984 and made podium at Worlds in following years then surprised everyone by turning pro a year or two before 1988, even though she was still very young. She was a big rival of Debi Thomas so perhaps she threw in the towel after Debi won Worlds in ‘86? I always thought that Tiffany had the goods to have improved after ‘86 with the right support system (eg, less influence of her notoriously pushy mom).

Chin won Skate America in 1986 (even though rising star, Tonya Harding, won both free skating portions at that event).

At the 1987 National Championships, Chin was a whisper away from making the World Team.

Caryn Kadavy made several costly errors in the short program, placing 9th. Had Chin (who was 4th in figures and 3rd in the short) placed 4th instead of 5th in the free, she would have made the World Team.

Given Manley's poor free skate in Cincinnati, Chin could probably have won a third consecutive bronze medal there as well.

Of course, this is all speculative. By 1987, Chin's triples had almost completely left her. Mostly, due to her mother's wacky intervention, and the course of 'alternative' physical therapy she made Tiffany do.
 
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floskate

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YES! I was thinking about her tech content:

In 1984, IIRC, the top ladies in the SP were all doing a 3T-combo anyway which Biellmann executed quite well in 1980. Her amplitude and spins would have probably been measured as better vs. Witt or Sumners, and given her an edge if the SP was clean.

Plus, she was not a winner in the Figures, but was probably better than Witt after 1980. Witt was elevated to 3rd in Sarajevo, and I think it's reasonable to assume that Biellmann would have been right around there.

In the LP at Lake Placid 1980, I believe she had planned 3Z, 2 3T's and 2 3S's, possibly a 3L, but ended up executing 4 triples. FTR, I don't think she would have ever executed 6 triples, but 4-5 triples were within the realm of possibility, and was still better tech content than Witt with 4 planned / 3 executed triples at Sarajevo [she didn't have a loop yet, and her Flip was always shaky], or Sumners with 3-4 planned [Sal and Toe only], but executing only 2 IIRC. There was definitely a clear path to Gold in 1984.

BTW, I honestly think Biellmann's LPs were the most technically demanding programs until Ito came along. ETA - I think Manley was right there and had a 3Z, but she didn't do combos in her LP. Biellmann may have well been competitive in 1988, when ladies were still doing 3T-combos in the SP, and Witt / Thomas / Manley / Kadavy / Trenary were all aiming for 5 triple LPs. Ito was a star with 7 triples.

ETA #2- If ANY SKATER needed and deserved a GoFundMe, it was Denise Biellmann. She theoretically would've added a level of interest to ladies thru Sarajevo, but possibly up to Calgary in 1988.

Very interesting thread. I have a documentary somewhere showing Biellmann landing a triple flip in the late 1970's but she never did it in competition. So legend has it, Denise apparently tried the triple lutz as early as 1976 Worlds but I've never seen it. Leading into Sarejevo would have been very interesting with Denise staying in and I think it would have seen a definite commitment to raising the tech content by other skaters. Instead we saw glimpses but nothing concrete.

Katarina Witt did have triple loop by 1984 - she fell on it at the 1983 Europeans and you are right her triple flip was iffy and often two-footed. However if you watch the 1983 Europeans (she doubled the flip), she was legitimately going out there with a layout designed to max out at 6 triples; flip, loop, 2 sals, 2 toes which is pretty cool when you think about it because she certainly didn't need it. And I think that is exactly why she ended up scaling back after '83. Without Denise and Elaine sidetracked by USFSA politics pushing Sumners and the likes of figures powerhouses like Wegelius and Kristofics-Binder out of the running, she didn't need all that tech to compete with Sumners and her two very swingy and inconsistent triples of sal and toe. Witt was a way better jumper than Sumners and I think she and Frau Muller took the calculated decision that her top drawer element of 2z-3t to open and her relative consistency with the sal and toe would be enough if she was close enough after figures. It paid off. (I do love that Witt just pulled out the triple loop to beat Debi Thomas on home turf in '87 though. So gutsy and a reflection of the phenomenal competitor that she was. She also landed a beauty in the warm up in Lillehammer.)

Binder - Hmmm I dunno if she would have been a factor by '84. Austrian political pull wasn't what it was by then and her spaghetti triples were a disaster waiting to happen. How she never seriously injured herself in competition I'll never know.

Wegelius - I wonder why she didn't stay in for 1984. Does anyone know? Sadly she never could master the triple sal and her Dorothy Hamillesque skating style looked a bit staid by '83.

I often wonder how things would have panned out for Ito if she had gone to Sarajevo. If she had skated in the Olympics the way she did in Ottawa at Worlds - and there's no reason to assume she wouldn't - the media impact she would have made might have stood her in better stead by the time Calgary rolled around in terms of reputation with the judges.
 

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