Tonya Harding at 1989 Worlds

Would Tonya have won a medal at 1989 if she had been there?


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Erin

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Yes, I know she wasn't there. But what if she had been? Could she have won a medal over Leistner and/or Trenary?

Trenary Original Program:

Leistner Original Program:

Leistner Free:

Trenary Free (or you could keep watching from Leistner's skate and also see Midori Ito's fantastic skate in between):

Harding Original Program at US Nationals:

Harding Free at US Nationals:

Obviously, all the caveats about whether Harding would have skated the same as her US Nationals skate apply. She may have skated better or worse at Worlds, etc. We would have to factor in figures, with nothing specific to go on for that, but have a crack at guessing where she could have placed. Have fun with it.

Ugh, and apologies to Donna Summer for misspelling MacArthur Park in the poll.
 
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Frau Muller

Everything is beautiful at the ballet!
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Paris 1989. Jill’s FS was shaky enough that a strong free skater could have swept in for bronze...and Tonya would likely have performed better than Kristy (technically). Of course, Tonya would’ve had to have done well enough in figures & SP to still be in the hunt. So much was politics, for placements in figures. Nobody lobbied the ISU better than Carlo Fassi.
 

Aerobicidal

Inspired by Selections
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I dislike all four choices and I'm very glad Tonya was not there to disgrace the sport. Where is the "other" option?
 

Erin

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I dislike all four choices and I'm very glad Tonya was not there to disgrace the sport. Where is the "other" option?
I added one just for you. Although once again, autocorrect went awry and it says “should’ve” instead of shouldn’t. I feel like that’s a sign that I shouldn’t be making these polls when I’m in a hurry.
 

alchemy void

campaigning for Surya's 06 Olympic bronze
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My initial inclination was no until I watched Trenary's LP and saw she had less content than Anett Pötzsch or Linda Fratianne 10 years earlier. :scream:

In-depth analysis forthcoming...
 

Aerobicidal

Inspired by Selections
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I added one just for you. Although once again, autocorrect went awry and it says “should’ve” instead of shouldn’t. I feel like that’s a sign that I shouldn’t be making these polls when I’m in a hurry.
This pole belongs in the slammer.

EAT: I have changed my mind and will vote for whichever option Andrea Bocelli chose.
 
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Louis

Private citizen
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I forgot how well skated 1989 U.S. Nationals were. I think Holly Cook could've won the 1989 World silver medal.

Tonya skated like a lumberjack in 1989 (she really did make enormous improvements between '89 and '91), but then again, so did Leistner.
 

Louis

Private citizen
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Holly's Another Cha Cha short program was pretty amazing.
:respec: Holly was a great short program skater. Her double axel covered the land mass of Utah, and her triple toe was nice and springy. Good, fast spins, too.

Her free skates usually sounded like someone switching (bad) radio stations, with corresponding choreography, but she had good energy and speed at least.
 

alchemy void

campaigning for Surya's 06 Olympic bronze
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Let's review the final results:

1 Midori Ito Japan 4.0 6 1 1
2 Claudia Leistner West Germany 4.2 1 3 2
3 Jill Trenary United States 5.0 2 2 3
4 Patricia Neske West Germany 11.6 5 6 6
5 Natalia Lebedeva Soviet Union 11.6 3 4 8
6 Kristi Yamaguchi United States 11.8 12 5 4
7 Evelyn Großmann East Germany 16.6 14 10 5
8 Natalia Gorbenko Soviet Union 17.4 4 8 11
9 Beatrice Gelmini Italy 18.6 11 7 10
10 Surya Bonaly France 18.8 16 9 7
11 Karen Preston Canada 22.4 17 11 9
12 Simone Lang East Germany 23.8 10 13 12
13 Yvonne Pokorny Austria 27.0 9 14 15
14 Tamara Téglássy Hungary 28.8 13 16 14
15 Junko Yaginuma Japan 29.2 15 12 16
16 Charlene Wong Canada 29.2 8 15 17
17 Željka Čižmešija Yugoslavia 34.2 7 19 20

Determining Tonya's figures placement is difficult, since she never competed internationally in figures (I think). However, she did handily beat Yamaguchi in figures at 89 Nationals (4th place to 8th place), so it's safe to assume she would have placed higher than Kristi's 12th.

She's not beating Midori's 6th place in figures, and Čižmešija in 7th was a veteran figures specialist, so I don't think that's happening, either. However, the esteemed Charlene Wong in 8th place is a good target. She's a fellow North American, no politiks, etc. So I'm placing Harding in 8th in figures. I think 9th, over an Austrian skater I've never heard of, is a realistic target, too.

Kristi placed 5th in the SP with a clean 3Lz+2T. To equal that, Tonya would have to skate cleanly with a 3Lz+2T. Unfortunately she two footed it in both SP and LP at 89 Nationals, so I'm not sure how consistent that jump was for her in this time period. If she two foots it here, she falls behind Neske in 7th for sure. But let's say she goes clean--5th is the very best she could hope for (and I kind of doubt the judges would put her above Neske). If the judges wouldn't put Yamaguchi over Lebedeva, they definitely weren't putting Harding above her.

Kristi only placed 4th in the LP, despite landing 5 triples (two lutzes! 2F+3T!), couldn't even beat Trenary in the LP (no double axel, 3T, 3S), which is insane. Kristi fell on her flip, let's say Tonya goes completely clean, the judges love the power and the perm, and they rank her 3rd over Trenary in the LP. I just don't think there's any way this panel would put Harding over Leistner, who did 4 triples here, including a 3Lo.

And in trying everything possible to get Tonya to the podium, I just watched Großmann's LP which was surprisingly good. 5 triples (3T, 3F, 2A, 3S, 2A, 3S--2Lo, 3T), perky, good speed. To be honest, this should have easily beat Trenary in the LP as well, even with Jill's edge in artistic impression.

So this would be the best, most semi-realistic result Tonya could have achieved:

6-1-1 Ito 4.0
1-3-3 Leistner 5.2
2-2-5 Trenary 7.0
8-5-2 Harding 8.2
5-6-6 Neske 11.6
3-4-8 Lebedeva 11.6
14-10-4 Großmann 15.6

The judges would have had to place Tonya 3rd in the SP to tie Trenary in factored placements and take the bronze. But there's no way that would have happened, since Yamaguchi had a better program and basics at this point and could only place 5th in the SP.

Sorry Tonya (and @meggonzo). :drama:

I can't believe I spent over an hour on this. :shuffle: :rofl:
 
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Erin

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The judges would have had to place Tonya 3rd in the SP to tie Trenary in factored placements and take the bronze. But there's no way that would have happened, since Yamaguchi had a better program and basics at this point and could only place 5th in the SP.

Sorry Tonya (and @meggonzo). :drama:

I can't believe I spent over an hour on this. :shuffle: :rofl:
I independently came to a similar conclusion. :drama: I went about it a bit differently - figuring out what placements she would have needed to get to the podium and then figuring out if they were realistic.

Without making any other changes (like Grossman or Yamaguchi over Trenary in the free, both of which totally should have happened), she would need either a 6-2-2 or a 5-3-2 to get past both Leistner and Trenary, but dropping one spot in any segment puts her behind both of them. I don't think that 5th in figures was possible. Harding regularly finished behind Holly Cook at Nationals in figures, and Cook finished behind Neske in figures at 1990 Worlds. Maybe 6-2-2 was possible if absolutely everything fell into place, but I still think that's a stretch. It's not out of the question that she could have finished 6th in figures, as Cook was able to finish 4th in 1990 even though all the politics would have been behind Jill. But it's questionable, and I think the 8th you have is probably more realistic. And I don't see her finishing 2nd in either of the free skating programs unless she skated her absolute best. Even then, I think that politics and skate order would have kept it from happening.

So unfortunately I had to vote no way, Claudia and Jill 4EVA. In the end, I feel like this is kind of like the hypothetical 1988 thread, where it doesn't matter much who did what, as the judges had already decided who would be on the podium.
 
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gkelly

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Determining Tonya's figures placement is difficult, since she never competed internationally in figures (I think).
Were figures part of the competition at Skate America in the 1980s? I could research, but I don't know off the top of my head.
 

Erin

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Were figures part of the competition at Skate America in the 1980s? I could research, but I don't know off the top of my head.
They were in 1986 - Harding lost to Chin because of figures. But I think Harding improved a lot in figures between 1986 and 1989.

Wikipedia says no figures at 1989 SA, but I'm not sure how accurate that is. In any event, the factored placements for figures aren't listed.

Harding's other internationals in that time frame were the 1988 Moscow News and 1989 Nations Cup, but no factored placements for them on my initial search. And like @alchemy void, I've probably already spent too much time thinking about this today to look further. :shuffle:

It's a shame Harding was so sick at 1990 Nationals, because she was having quite a hot streak internationally, winning all three of the events I mentioned above, including 1989 Skate America over Jill. If she somehow had managed to get to 1989 Worlds and get a medal over Jill, she would have been the named skater for 1990 Worlds - she could have withdrawn from Nationals like Bowman did and still have gone to Worlds. But then we would never have had Holly Cook's magical bronze medal.
 
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SmallFairy

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Why was there only two American ladies at the 89 worlds?
I’ve watched through the SP now. I thought Yamaguchi was a bit lowballed I’d have her at least ahead of Lebedeva, and I guess Neske too, because of Kristi’s 3z, but I guess she was waiting in line like Kwan in 95. No 3z could help her against the experienced 3 toeloops...:p
Leistner’s choreo was so bad it’s epic. Baby Surya was much better than I expected. I’ve watched Midori’s FS several times earlier, but no one else, so now I’m looking forward to the FS :D
 

gkelly

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Why was there only two American ladies at the 89 worlds?
Because at that time the rule was that a federation earned 3 spots if they had earned a medal in that discipline the previous year, but only if the actual skater who had earned the medal was on the team. I.e., the "named skater rule."

(But no, they didn't get more than 3 spots if they had earned more than 1 medal.)

For the same reason the US only had 2 spots in the men's competition as well.
 

Brenda_Bottems

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Ms. Leistner won a medal only because the panel was European. BUL, GDR, GRB, SWE, DEN, ITA, HUN, BEL, FRG.

Continuous arm spasms are NOT choreography,particularly in a homely dress.

I also suspect,with a fair panel,Charlene Wong would have placed within the top 12.

-BB
 
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essence_of_soy

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Harding, if she had attended and replicated her performances from Baltimore in Paris, definitely had a shot at silver.

She was a power athlete like Ito, and skated like a fully-fledged senior.

I always found it interesting that at international events versus domestic competition, her scores for similarly-skated performances, were at least 3 to 4 tenths higher on the global level.

I can see why she felt US politics never seemed in her favour.
 

bardtoob

Clichy Competitive Audition Protocol Auditor
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Without politics:

Tonya would have probably gotten 6th in figures, pushing Midori down to 7th. Then Midori probably would have gotten 1st in the SP and LP while Tonya would have gotten 2nd in the SP and LP.

Midori wins and Tonya gets silver . . . 3rd and 4th would be some combination of Jill and Claudia.
---------------------------------
With politics:

Tonya would have probably gotten 8th in figures, while Midori gets 6th. Then Midori probably would have gotten 1st in the SP and LP while Tonya would have gotten 4th in the SP and 2nd in the LP.

1st Midori
2nd Claudia
3rd Jill
4th Tonya

OR

1st Midori
2nd Jill
3rd Claudia
4th Tonya

Everybody would have pointed to Tonya's figures and the subsequent skating order as the explanation for why she was not on the podium, although it would have been clear that she deserved 2nd without seeing figures coverage. In fact this narrative was already written into CBC's 1991 World Figure Skating Championship coverage. See at 1:16 into this YouTube clip.

 
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essence_of_soy

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Because at that time the rule was that a federation earned 3 spots if they had earned a medal in that discipline the previous year, but only if the actual skater who had earned the medal was on the team. I.e., the "named skater rule."

(But no, they didn't get more than 3 spots if they had earned more than 1 medal.)

For the same reason the US only had 2 spots in the men's competition as well.
Debi Thomas and Brian Boitano, had they stayed amateur, would have been the named skaters.
 

olympic

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Did this Named skater rule exist back to 1980? Fratianne medaled at '80 Worlds, but the US could only send 2 skaters to '81 Worlds: Zayak and Priscilla Hill ... Then, of course Zayak won bronze at '84 Worlds, but there were 2 slots for Chin and Thomas at '85 Worlds
 

essence_of_soy

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Did this Named skater rule exist back to 1980? Fratianne medaled at '80 Worlds, but the US could only send 2 skaters to '81 Worlds: Zayak and Priscilla Hill ... Then, of course Zayak won bronze at '84 Worlds, but there were 2 slots for Chin and Thomas at '85 Worlds
Based on your observation, I'm pretty sure it did. Maybe even back to the late 1960's as well. Team USA only had two spots for ladies in 1969.

During this period, if a pair placed in the top 5, then three teams (along with the named team) could attend the following season.
 

VGThuy

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Harding, if she had attended and replicated her performances from Baltimore in Paris, definitely had a shot at silver.

She was a power athlete like Ito, and skated like a fully-fledged senior.

I always found it interesting that at international events versus domestic competition, her scores for similarly-skated performances, were at least 3 to 4 tenths higher on the global level.

I can see why she felt US politics never seemed in her favour.
And yet her results for domestic and international competitions are similar. At least she won a (two before one was stripped) Nationals though she never won Worlds/Olympics. Anyway, I guess we’re not counting Vanessa Reilley’s scores for Tonya, ;).
 

Erin

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9,750
I also suspect,with a fair panel,Charlene Wong would have placed within the top 12.

-BB
This is only tangentially related to the topic of this thread, but since it combines school figures and Charlene Wong, I thought you would enjoy this:

Although I have a sneaking suspicion you aren’t a fan of Toller Cranston, so be warned that you do have to tolerate him in this video.
 
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olympic

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Did Kerrigan use the same music in her Lillehammer LP as Trenary in her SP here?
 

Erin

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Did Kerrigan use the same music in her Lillehammer LP as Trenary in her SP here?
No. All of Kerrigan’s SPs were to original compositions by Mark Militano. I don’t know what all of the pieces were in Jill’s short but the last one was the Calgary Olympic theme, composed by David Foster.
 

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