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1977 - 1979 Worlds: Anett Pozsch, Linda Fratianne, and Denise Biellemann

Updated on April 26, 2017

In the 1997 Worlds Linda Fratianne won the 1977 Worlds and Anett Poetszch took silver, but the judges awarded Elena Vodorezova first place in free program, which is an example of wrong judging. Because I was unable to find Elena Vodorezova's clip in 1997 Worlds, I put up a 1978 worlds. I can tell the level of her skating from the 1976 and 1978 Worlds, because the skating level doesn't change much. So I assume that she skated in the 1977 worlds more or less of what she did in the 1978 or 1976 worlds. I smell some foul play here. It would be not fair if I call it wrong based on modern standards, because it's forty years ago. It was when modern figure skating has barely kicked in. But at least you can see what is problem in this particular judging. That is, it is an issue of quality. Authenticity always matters. That's why we need judges.

Elena Vodorezova's skating shows significant flaws in virtually all elements. Her jumps are technically incomplete and lacks of due quality to be ratified as jump. But her real problem lies not only in jump but also in all her moves. They are poorer than the average. Even junior skaters would know better. Most of her moves are either compromised or deficient. No move she demonstrated on ice appears accurate. They either are cheated or result from too inappropriate training to be sanctioned for competition. It is because judges at the time failed to distinguish what is authentic and what is not, or it might be another international politics.

Linda Fratianne's skating here is not flawless, but as you may can tell after comparing it to Elena Vodorezova's skating above, Linda's skating is far superior to Vodorezova's. If we have to apply today's system. Vodorezova's skating only renders her 5.0 to 6.0 PCS while Fratianne's easily places 7.0 to 8.0 in average. Fratianne's fall is trivial compared to Vodorezova's skating deficiency throughout the program. Back then, a fall was a glaring flaw, but inaccuracy and incompetency also greatly counted, rightfully so. In this free program, Fratianne might have lost to other skaters, arguably, because of her fall, but Elena Vodorezova wasn't one of them.

I couldn't find Anett Poetszch's 1977 Worlds clip either. So let's use her 1977 Euro Championships. Based on that, I think if anyone rightfully would beat Linda, it was Anett Poetszch. Anett was a skater as competent as Linda. Her moves are definitive and elegant. Her speed and body control on ice is as great as Linda. Only Anett's jumping technique is glaringly flawed compared to Linda's. Of course, Linda is also more agile than Anett however marginal it might be. But in this particular competition, Linda's program appears lack of power and her usual agility after the first fall. Therefore, if Anett with her decent outing beat Linda in free program, that could have been much more acceptable than Elena beat Linda. Again Elena can't beat either of Anett or Linda. That's an egregiously wrong judging.

Barbie Smith was also brilliant in this competition. Smith was as competent as Linda and Anett. If Smith beat either Linda or Anett in this competition, it would not have been a surprise. As you have examined so far, there were quite a number of skaters whose performances were too good to get beaten by Elena's wacky skating at the time. Therefore, placing Elena Vodorezova first place in free program is simply ridiculous.

Linda Fratianne in 1978

Anett Potzsch in 1978

Denise Biellemann in 1978

Lisa-Marie Allen in 1978

In the 1978 Worlds, Linda Fratianne is not quite in her element. Before examining her jumps, her body language tells a story as if she is less willing to take up the challenge. Her upper body appears stiff and her moves are half-done as her agility seems suffering.It may have to do with her physiological limit, or simply she isn't feeling that good at the time. Of course, despite all that, Fratianne is a skater who knows how to use her body in momentum. That's why her skating is always sharp.But in comparison with Anett Potzsch, Fratianne has indeed a significant deficiency.

Here, Anett appears stylistically elegant and expressive, also better than Fratianne in body control. You can see how incomplete Fratianne's choreographic arm moves are in contrast with Potzsch's. So, Anett must have higher PCS scores in the areas governed by line elements, such as choreography or interpretation or even transition. However, Potzsch's problem is jump. And jumping quality, like other elements, too affects PCS points such as choreography or interpretation. Unfortunately Potzsch, as an elite skater, is not a good jumper. As evident in her double axel, her technical level is much lower than Fratianne's. So, the game is set between her jumping deficiency and Fratianne's line deficiency. Fratianne has upper hand over Anett in speed, power and jumping ability while Anett is better in style and expressiveness, especially physiological line and extension. But neither of them has an overall skating issue like today's Russian skaters.

Here, as you see, Biellemann is shining in the 1978 Worlds. Can you believe this is a 15 year old skater's doing? Her agility in postures, lines and turns are such an artwork, only probable in legendary giants such as Lynn, Fleming, etc. Her grasp of figure skating dynamism is simply incredible. That kicks all her competitors. Bielleman's move is like knife-edge precision in its dynamics. In fact, this is the best program in this competition. Although Biellemann has a technical issue in her jump, that is, her revolution posture, that's a minor problem considering her time. It's interesting that one of commentators mentioned she doesn't look as fiery as usual. But the fact is that the way she skates here is like a master doing some demo. People may think Biellemann is famous for her signature spin. But truth is, what makes Biellemann the celebrated skater of all time is not the ingenuity of her signature spin, but her mastery of figure skating itself. Biellemann is one of "geniuses" in figure skating history.

Here, Allen skated to Scheherazade like Fratianne. What a performance! You may notice how elegant she is and how she jumps and lands correctly, and she appears very expressive. Except that she betrays imbalance in the middle of program, Allen, though not as explosive as Biellemann, manages well her program here. What difference between Biellemann's skating and Allen's is there? There are critical differences: speed, power and agility. Remember what authenticates skating is speed and power. Without them, your skating will be empty: momentum makes all the difference. Try to think of figure skating in terms of resolution. Biellemann's skating shows higher resolution than Allen's. Your agility --- to simply put it, how sharp your moves are on ice --- enables you to do not only technical elements but also all PCS elements such as transition, choreography, interpretation, and what not. Again all these are moves, not acting or gestures or imitations.

Who do you think is the winner in terms of PCS?

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In the 1979 Worlds, Fratianne's triples are simply brilliant. Of course, they may be not perfect, but they were well aligned with other built-in elements of figure skating, which surely humiliates today's Russian skaters' so called triple jumping technique. A few things are notable here. Through Linda Fratianne's skating, you may realize that the emphasis of figure skating has shifted to handling triple jumps from aestheticism. Inevitably, Fratianne's skating, compared to her idols, Lynn or Hamill, shows not only a considerable deficiency in overall skating but also quality issue even in jumping technique.As skaters pioneered triple jumps, skaters were prone to think that the powerful attraction of triples surpasses all other merits in ladies figure skating, and that resulted in their training more focused on jumping. But compared to today's skaters, skaters in the 1970s were skaters equipped with higher skating assets.

Anett Potzsch was a typical skater you could find in compulsory time. Skaters under the influence of compulsory discipline tend to show great skating skill and balance, but they were often poor in handling dynamic balance, that is, landing technique.But in the 1970s, triple jump technique was still under development. Anett Potzsch's skating was almost immaculate except her jumping technique. Like most skaters at the time, her PCS could be by default 8.5-9.0; however, due to her poor TES, her PCS may reasonably be positioned between 8.5-8.0.

Basically Emi Watanabe flies around here. What a skater! Her body moves are just breathtaking. Despite her less than perfect jump technique, her PCS deserves by default 8.5-9.0. If her jumps were adequately handled, and her moves were polished a bit, her PCS could have broken 9.0 barrier. She is one of examples that shows the greatness of skaters in the 1970s. Most skaters in the 1970s are experts in handling on-ice moves with immaculate property of figure skating elements. Among the skaters above, Fratianne dominates as far as jumps are concerned.Actually these competitors stand close to one another in terms of PCS. But what about Fratianne's PCS under the COP system? Would Linda Fratianne still have upper hand over her peers? I will leave it to you. Bear in mind that none of them is inferior in terms of PCS to Ashley Wagner, whose PCS is by default 8.0, which is the best among the current ladies figure skaters in the world.


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