What do people here think of Jill Trenary

Fadeevfanboy

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Rewatching some of her old programs and of all the skaters who were champions or right at the top for years she is the one that baffles me most of anyone ever perhaps. She was a good enough skater for the time I guess, but I just didn't get her skating at all. Her look, or really anything. And super inconsistent as well.

Just curious if there are any fans of hers here, and what was her appeal to the judges and audiences alike.
 

Marco

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Big jumps but otherwise tacky skater. Meh spins. Not a fan of her programs but then again most progams in that era were incohesive like that. I prefer Caryn Kadavy but she was equally inconsistent in that Nikodinov way of at least popping 2 triples per free skate.

Come to think of it, it was almost a miracle that she became world champion in the Midori Ito era, with just flips, toes and sals.
 

Plusdinfo

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I started to watch skating just as Jill was stopping, so I never saw any of her amateur skates right as they were broadcast, but I've seen programs on YouTube at various points, and I likely saw some of her pro stuff on TV.

I'm in your camp. She didn't appeal to me, but more than that, I've struggled to see what she did really well. She had her one-foot axel/triple salchow, a novelty, but that's not a triple-triple or one rotation beyond what others were doing at the time. Her jumping repertoire and execution? So far behind Ito (of course), Manley, and even someone like Leistner. Her spins? Forgettable. The actual skating? Oksana Baiul was a fan, but even that is incomprehensible, as if Baiul resembled any '80s skater's style, it was Kadavy's.

Maybe Jill's success included possessing decent skills (it's not like she only had one triple), being attractive, having hair that was "stylish" for '80s America, donning costumes that were not cheap-looking, training with a noted coach, and having a father who was involved/not a jerk (from what I gather). Just throwing things out there.

More than those things, though, it could be that she got to/near the top in 1989-1990 because she stuck around. If she had stopped in '88, you might not have posted this thread because her results wouldn't raise question marks about how Jill got so high. If Kadavy hadn't been unable to do '89 Nationals/gone pro and if Thomas had not been on track to do med school/continued her amateur career would Jill have been the top American in '89 and '90? Maybe not. Perhaps the older culture/scoring system factored in. Would Harding and Yamaguchi have overtaken Jill in those years without 6.0 and the status quo being to preserve the status quo?

There are people who have posted here in the past who are fans, so perhaps they'll chime in. If they do, hopefully we'll get some detailed information about what they liked. I'm open to viewing her programs with new eyes, but I'm afraid that most of what I saw from her between '87-'91 was not enjoyable or impressive.
 

Aceon6

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I didn't get her either, but she had the best figures of her peers. To my eye, she was somewhat of a let down after Linda Fratiane and Rosalynn Sumners. In her early senior years, she benefited from the inconsistency of her main rivals, Chin, Caryn, and Debi. She got the Worlds title in 1990 because Midori couldn't do figures. Either she wanted to go out on top or knew that she wasn't competitive without the figures component.
 

Vash01

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I was not her fan, mainly because her tech content was so far behind Ito's and even the newcomer Yamaguchi! Her most difficult jump was a triple flip and I don't believe she landed it consistently, though she landed it in her 1990 world championship program. She won that worlds because of her first place in figures and Ito bombed that part. She was 10th in figures, but she won SP and LP and yet she finished behind Trenary. I am so glad the rules are different now!

I feel she was overrated, even for her era. Could be because women's skating was not that competitive in technical skills, so she got away with low tech content. Carlo Fassi (her coach) may have marketed her well. She wore nice costumes and had nice packaging overall.

I thought Jill's skating skills, posture were quite good. She kind of fitTed the image of a lady skater of her times. She got very lucky in winning some titles. She was smart enough to retire when she was at the top.

As a pro, she had some decent skates, since jumps were not that important. I liked her 'These boots are made for walking' though she was known for her elegance. Oksana Baiul said "she is a real woman on the ice", but Oksana was a 15 year old at the time.

I didn't see much of Jill after she married Dean, other than the Boots program.
 
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Frau Muller

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I adored Jill Trenary’s skating! She was hyper-feminine and stylish, especially in contemporary jazzy work…and she had that “Christa Fassi Wiggle” down perfectly! She also was magnificently styled for the time…the glittery Lauren Sheehan dresses, hair, & make-up. Overall air of glamour that we seldom see today.

1988 Irma LaDouce SP - how she moved with sass and panache!
 
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olympic

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I think a lot about Jill Trenary :)

Most of what is being said is true: She maxed out at a 5-jump LP which was generally the number of triples planned by the leading women through Calgary 88, except for Ito planning 7 triples. But Thomas had a planned 3T-3T and Manley had a 3Z, which meant Trenary wasn't at the forefront.

In 1989 and 1990, Ito was easily the #1 talent in the world, but with retirements and such, Jill maintained medal status because the ranks were thin internationally, and there was no big explosion of talent in the ranks behind Ito: The USSR and GDR didn't have any notable newcomers. Witt had retired and for the 1st time in decades, Jutta Mueller didn't have a serious threat on the world scene. There was no other strong competitor from JPN, or anyone from Asia for that matter, and no CAN woman. The best outside of Ito and the US women was Claudia Leistner from FRG, who won Euros and had similar jump content to Jill, but was a little more wooden. I always felt that US and Intl. Judges liked and preferred Jill to someone like Claudia. It gave her solid footing for a WSM in at least 1989.

As has been mentioned, Kristi was more technically ambitious but she still was developing the artistic mark in those first years. I think that Jill skated with command when she was 'on'. Consider there was a stronger pecking order back in the day under an ordinal system using 6.0, plus CF allowed Jill breathing room against Midori and Kristi. It's not hard to see Jill capable of snatching silver at that time. Also consider Kristi was straddling Pairs and Women. I think that the USFSA was solidly behind Jill at the time which meant she may not have had to work too hard to stay in front of Kristi

In 1990, Midori was suffering from bad figures and injury, and Kristi splatted x2 (?) in the LP, while Jill probably had her best LP ever, which gave Jill the opening to win. The cards fell the right way for her to be a World Champ.

More than anything in the following years, the development of US women doomed Jill's chances for another Olympics in 1992.
 

screech

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I adored Jill Trenary’s skating! She was hyper-feminine and stylish, especially in contemporary jazzy work…and she had that “Christa Fassi Wiggle” down perfectly! She also was magnificently styled for the time…the glittery Lauren Sheehan dresses, hair, & make-up. Overall air of glamour that we seldom see today.

1988 Irma LaDouce SP - how she moved with sass and panache!
Definitely a fun program (and good footwork sequence - I miss footwork like that). Unfortunate that Liz Manley's FP to (mostly) the same music, with a similar coloured dress overshadowed it.
 

Cachoo

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Well this will be a weird take but I felt she was very much a representation of how some saw the American teenaged girl of that time. That was the era of John Hughes popular films with Molly Ringwald and at times Jill reminded me of Ringwald. And she was at the end of the figures era—truly a different time. I liked her…didn’t love her. And watching the video I loved not seeing a catch foot spin.
 

briancoogaert

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Yes, she is iconic.
A bit stiff, compared to Caryn Kadavy, whose skating was so much smoother.
She had a good technical content pre-1988 compared to the others (3Flip, 1Axel/3Sal), but after 1988, even her 3Flip was inconsistent, and I think she was overscored post-1988, even though I liked her quite well !
 
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Seerek

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Jill did was required for her Era to be competitive.

Outside of Ito, Kadavy (maybe Chin and Zayak), 80s free skating from the women doesn't hold up that well ..... and that's perfectly fine. Everything in context.
 

Fadeevfanboy

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I think a lot about Jill Trenary :)

Most of what is being said is true: She maxed out at a 5-jump LP which was generally the number of triples planned by the leading women through Calgary 88, except for Ito planning 7 triples. But Thomas had a planned 3T-3T and Manley had a 3Z, which meant Trenary wasn't at the forefront.

In 1989 and 1990, Ito was easily the #1 talent in the world, but with retirements and such, Jill maintained medal status because the ranks were thin internationally, and there was no big explosion of talent in the ranks behind Ito: The USSR and GDR didn't have any notable newcomers. Witt had retired and for the 1st time in decades, Jutta Mueller didn't have a serious threat on the world scene. There was no other strong competitor from JPN, or anyone from Asia for that matter, and no CAN woman. The best outside of Ito and the US women was Claudia Leistner from FRG, who won Euros and had similar jump content to Jill, but was a little more wooden. I always felt that US and Intl. Judges liked and preferred Jill to someone like Claudia. It gave her solid footing for a WSM in at least 1989.

As has been mentioned, Kristi was more technically ambitious but she still was developing the artistic mark in those first years. I think that Jill skated with command when she was 'on'. Consider there was a stronger pecking order back in the day under an ordinal system using 6.0, plus CF allowed Jill breathing room against Midori and Kristi. It's not hard to see Jill capable of snatching silver at that time. Also consider Kristi was straddling Pairs and Women. I think that the USFSA was solidly behind Jill at the time which meant she may not have had to work too hard to stay in front of Kristi

In 1990, Midori was suffering from bad figures and injury, and Kristi splatted x2 (?) in the LP, while Jill probably had her best LP ever, which gave Jill the opening to win. The cards fell the right way for her to be a World Champ.

More than anything in the following years, the development of US women doomed Jill's chances for another Olympics in 1992.

Although 92 Nationals was a splatfest (apart from Yamaguchi) so had Jill stayed fully healthy after 90 worlds, I could see her making the team. Possibly bumping off Harding who had an absolutely disaesterous Nationals. And given the poor competition at the 92 Olympics she could have maybe bumped off Kerrigan's mistake filled LP for bronze if she skated her absolute best, even with her 1990 content. That is dependent on everything going just right though.
 

olympic

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Although 92 Nationals was a splatfest (apart from Yamaguchi) so had Jill stayed fully healthy after 90 worlds, I could see her making the team. Possibly bumping off Harding who had an absolutely disaesterous Nationals. And given the poor competition at the 92 Olympics she could have maybe bumped off Kerrigan's mistake filled LP for bronze if she skated her absolute best, even with her 1990 content. That is dependent on everything going just right though.
There have been speculative threads re this scenario in the past. You are correct that there was an opening for Jill if she was skating her best. Tonya was a disaster at 1992 Nationals, and Nancy was pretty bad at the Olympics. I actually think 1991 Nationals would have been more difficult for Jill because Nancy got spot #3 with 4 triples and a gutsy performance.
 

bardtoob

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  • Trenary's Aquanet Wedge was a phenomenal 80s take on the Hamil Wedge. The rat tail was a bit much.
  • Trenary had the 3F-2Lp, which she actually landed at the Olympics in 1988 and finished 4th overall. This was actually a legitimately hard combination since it included the 2Lp.
  • Trenary, student of Carlo Fassi, was actually Tonya Harding's main American rival from 1984 to 1990 and the reason Harding didn't make the 1989 World team because Tonya could place close enough in figures to Trenary and place ahead of Trenary in the SP and LP in international competition to overtake Jill while Yamaguchi and Kerrigan didn't have the figures.
  • Trenary was the best skater in the world one day in 1990, and then obsolete the next. It always bothered me that the ISU tossed a lifetime of practicing compulsory figures into the dumpster overnight rather than phasing them out.
  • I didn't like that she went on TV at the 1992 Olympics and said that the Ladies skated content harder than the men in 1988 and it's taking away the elegance. The ladies were doing 3Lz and 3A when competing against her and it was less than the men at the 1988 Olympics. This was too bad because she was really well spoken.
  • I always remember the scowl turned laugh she mugged towards Christopher Bowman from the boards during an international competition gala exhibition in the late 80s. She was probably legitimately mortified. He was skating to Woolly Bully and doing the Pony with a lot of hip gestures and with something like a tie around his head.
 
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Fadeevfanboy

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There have been speculative threads re this scenario in the past. You are correct that there was an opening for Jill if she was skating her best. Tonya was a disaster at 1992 Nationals, and Nancy was pretty bad at the Olympics. I actually think 1991 Nationals would have been more difficult for Jill because Nancy got spot #3 with 4 triples and a gutsy performance.

Yes I don't think she makes the 91 team. Although she would have a huge reputation edge on Nancy at that point, so still hard to tell. She would have to skate better than she did at the Goodwill Games though (when she lost to Kristi by .1 but even Nancy's bronze performance at Nationals was probably better than Kristi's gold one at the Goodwill Games).
 

SLIVER

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I didn’t read the entirety of this threat but Jill Trenary was a superb, complete basic skater.
She had beautiful basics, speed, carriage and flow.
Everyone mentions her up against Yamaguchi and Ito in 1990. She had 5 triples and a triple flip, apart from the aforementioned 2 skaters, no one else had this content. You had a Yuka Sato doing a triple loop and Bonaly who was still atrocious. Cook, Lebedeva, Neske etc etc all couldn’t land more than 2/3 triples at best. It was a totally different era.
I loved her 1989 and 1990 short and long programmes. Granted she wasn’t very consistent but she was one of the first women to land a triple flip combo in the short.
Ironically in her relatively short career, she started off as the more technical skater that was doing jumps others couldn’t and only 3 years later she became the more artistic well rounded skater with less content.
The artistry issue is also not be to ignored. Who came close to her artistically in 1990, no one. Certainly not Ito or Yamaguchi.
Jill also was obviously excellent at the compulsory figures which in 1990 were 20% of the mark.
I do however disagree with her placement in the short at 90’ Worlds. She popped her combo into a double double and still received ordinals as high as 3rd and 4th IIRC. Even in 1990 that shouldn’t have happened, she should have placed behind Grossman and maybe another couple of skaters in the short. Had that happened she might not have won worlds. Despite all that, her free was by far and away the 2nd strongest on the night and easily the best artistically. There have been much much ‘weaker’ and less complete world champions, she just happened to win the year the sport finally changed.
 
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snoopysnake

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She was never a favorite of mine, in large part because I was a big fan of several of her major competitors (Debi Thomas, Caryn Kadavy, and Kristi Yamaguchi.) I disliked Jill's hairstyle but that's simply my personal taste. I thought she looked like Wally Cleaver circa 1959. As a pro she grew longer hair with more blonde in it; I think she also had her heavy eyebrows restyled. Anyway, I thought she looked a lot prettier in the mid-late 90's.

Skating-wise she was one who benefitted from being better at school figures than her peers. Some of them would have beat her in events she won before scoring system changes were made. The thing I disliked about her programs was a tendency to pick music that other skaters had recently used (or were even still using) I had no use for her "One Rock 'N Roll Too Many" as Dorothy Hamill had already done a great version at Landover and the other pro comps. I don't know if Jill picked her own music or if others did it for her.

I would like to see Jill write her memoirs. She did have a kid's book about her Olympic experiences. It would be interesting to learn more about how Jill felt about her skating peers and the state of skating today, about her romance, marriage and divorce with Christopher Dean, and raising their sons after he left her. Jill also had a lot of bad luck with injuries, so I think her life story would be an interesting read.
 
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Vash01

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I didn’t read the entirety of this threat but Jill Trenary was a superb, complete basic skater.
She had beautiful basics, speed, carriage and flow.
Everyone mentions her up against Yamaguchi and Ito in 1990. She had 5 triples and a triple flip, apart from the aforementioned 2 skaters, no one else had this content. You had a Yuka Sato doing a triple loop and Bonaly who was still atrocious. Cook, Lebedeva, Neske etc etc all couldn’t land more than 2/3 triples at best. It was a totally different era.
I loved her 1989 and 1990 short and long programmes. Granted she wasn’t very consistent but she was one of the first women to land a triple flip combo in the short.
Ironically in her relatively short career, she started off as the more technical skater that was doing jumps others couldn’t and only 3 years later she became the more artistic well rounded skater with less content.
The artistry issue is also not be to ignored. Who came close to her artistically in 1990, no one. Certainly not Ito or Yamaguchi.
Jill also was obviously excellent at the compulsory figures which in 1990 were 20% of the mark.
I do however disagree with her placement in the short at 90’ Worlds. She popped her combo into a double double and still received ordinals as high as 3rd and 4th IIRC. Even in 1990 that shouldn’t have happened, she should have placed behind Grossman and maybe another couple of skaters in the short. Had that happened she might not have won worlds. Despite all that, her free was by far and away the 2nd strongest on the night and easily the best artistically. There have been much much ‘weaker’ and less complete world champions, she just happened to win the year the sport finally changed.
Her jumps were toe loop, salchow, flip. I don't know which " 5 triples and 3 flip" you are talking about. Most certainly not the 3axel. Her contemporaries had harder jumps. Ito of course had all six, and the 3t3t. Yamaguchi had the 3Lz in 1989 (May be earlier?) IIRC Karen Kadavy had the 3R. Debbie Thomas had the 3R and I think 3f (not sure about that). Witt had the 3f but she didn't always use it. I saw Jill doubling the triples rather often. By 1991 many ladies were doing the 3Lz, some in combination. I think Debie Thomas doing 5 triples in her LP.

She was strong in school figures. That helped her win medals and the 1990 worlds (a real sore point with me). Of course it was not her fault. It was the system she competed under. She was a mediocre technical skater. She had a good carriage and personality on the ice. I liked her as a pro. Unfortunately that career was relatively short.
 

bardtoob

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Louis

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I loved Trenary and agree with everything SLIVER wrote.

People tend to remember the 1990 programs, but forget that her pre-1990 programs were packed with jumps, steps, and skating that never stopped.

1990 was a deliberate change in style, one that ended up influencing everyone from Oksana Baiul to Michelle Kwan (and probably a decade of costumes). There were fewer elements but held for longer, with every move finished. The program incorporated modern dance and new age music in a way that was different from anything we had seen previously. It may also be one of the first instances of a singles skater turning to an ice dancer (Renee Roca) for choreography? It's easy to look back on the program now, with knowledge of everything that followed (and improved upon) it, and forget that at the time it was an enormous departure and a big risk for ladies skating. It started so many trends in costumes, music, look, and choreography.

Some of Trenary's work as a pro - especially "These Boots," but also her "Caravansary" program (which I'm not sure she ever really skated well) - was also noteworthy. She was one of the few pros who seemed to challenge herself choreographically, probably due to the Dean influence.

On the athletic front, Trenary's triple salchow was the best in the business: +5 when landed, either from the one-foot axel or a spiral. Her triple toe loop was also of high quality when she landed it. I loved the split jumps both into and out of the jump, e.g., 1988 free skate. (This is the type of stuff CoP should reward.) Her clean edge double axel and the double flip with her arms at her side (much more attractive than the 'tano / rippon positions we see today) also deserved high marks.

[*]Trenary was the best skater in the world one day in 1990, and then obsolete the next. It always bothered me that the ISU tossed a lifetime of practicing compulsory figures into the dumpster overnight rather than phasing them out.

They did phase them out, no? From 30 percent to 20 percent in 1988-90, before elimination.
 

soogar

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This thread is bringing back memories. Jill was the IT girl of skating. She had the costumes, the haircut, the coach and the look on ice. TSL has a great interview with Caryn Kadavy that hinted that there was no love lost between those two, and Caryn won a world bronze medal before Jill. Caryn also has a lot of insights from that time of skating: that women were not encouraged to do triples. To paraphrase her, "you just didn't do them." It's really hard to tell if Jill's technical content was poor because she lacked the ability or was strongly encouraged to stop where she was. The time was really weird that there still was compulsory figures, and while you had outliers like Denise Biellmann and Midori Ito, women stuck to 2-3 triples a program. Jill was actually quite advanced with a 3 flip. And yes, Tonya was her rival and Tonya had decent figures. Yet she was still passed over in favor of Yamaguchi in spite of her strong jumps and figures in 1989 Nationals. Nancy came along later with a very solid 3 lutz. Jill was injured in 1991, I believe, but the writing was on the wall that she probably wouldn't have made another world team. Holly Cook disappeared too once figures were phased out, and she too won a Worlds bronze medal in 1990.

Another little intrigue, Sandra Bezic choreographed Jill's Olympic programs. I read an interview with Renee Roca, who choreographed Jill's world program in 1990, that she got the job of choreographing Jill's programs because Jill couldn't get in touch with Sandra Bezic. At that point, Bezic was choreographing for Kristi Yamaguchi. I just thought it was kind of interesting that it sounded as if Sandra threw her client Jill over for her rival.
 

bardtoob

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They did phase them out, no? From 30 percent to 20 percent in 1988-90, before elimination.
I would have preferred figures be 10% of the competition at the 1992 Olympics before elimination at 1992 Worlds or 1992-93 season.
 

livetoskate

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I was a teen when she was in the limelight, so I don't remember much other than her '88 Olympics free and then the "These Boots are Made for Walking" pro performance. What is she up to these days? This is the most recent article I could find on Jill:
 

Coco

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I know one of their sons had autism or some kind of developmental issue that took a lot of her time and energy.

Looking back, she strikes me as a somewhat anxious person who achieved a great deal. Whenever she was on TV, her father seemed to be mugging for the cameras, and then he would have some kind of playful tear you down remark to Jill. Looking back that whole situation kind of sets off some red flags. As soon as she got together with Dean publicly, it seemed she stopped skating. And when she did skate commentators would talk about her perfectionism. I wish we could have seen more from her as a professional because she was a gorgeous, gorgeous skater. Her programs were always chock full of transitions.

People look back on the late '80s and kind of scoff at the relatively few number of triples the women were doing, but it should be noted that triples in the 80s, even from the non-powerful skaters, were big jumps. They got quite high and covered a lot of ice. It wasn't until Yamaguchi came along that it became acceptable to have triples jumps that didn't go very far.
 

overedge

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Holly Cook disappeared too once figures were phased out, and she too won a Worlds bronze medal in 1990.

I believe Holly Cook retired because she felt she had done as much as she wanted to in skating, not because she couldn't be competitive without figures.
 

bardtoob

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I believe Holly Cook retired because she felt she had done as much as she wanted to in skating, not because she couldn't be competitive without figures.
There are other things to do when you are two years out of high school. She did do some touring with COI. It is also important to note that at that time in the US marriage, having kids, etc. was something people started to think about at her age range.

Currently she coaches.
 

Louis

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I believe Holly Cook retired because she felt she had done as much as she wanted to in skating, not because she couldn't be competitive without figures.

Except Holly Cook competed in the 1990-91 season. She finished fourth with a clean short program at Nationals, but then fell twice and ended up sixth in the free skate. She attempted to add a triple loop that season, but I don't believe she ever completed one in competition.

After 1991 Nationals and then especially after 1991 Worlds, Cook had to realize that she and her two different triples were no longer competitive nationally, much less internationally. Any sane person would have assumed she had no chance at the Olympics with Yamaguchi, Harding, Kerrigan, and Trenary all slotted ahead of her.

Weirdly -- given how the judges nearly dumped Harding for Lisa Ervin(!) at 1992 Nationals, Cook with a clean short program and four-triple free skate may have actually had a shot. But that was impossible to predict in the spring of 1991.

I liked Holly's quirky skating for what it was. More than just about any other skater, she skated on her own terms and didn't seem to care what people thought.
 

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