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1985 - 1987 Worlds: Witt, Ivanova, Chin. Thomas, Kadavy and Manley

Updated on May 14, 2017

Katarina Witt in 1985

Katarina Witt in 1985

Kira Ivanova in 1985

Kira Ivanova's documentary

Tiffany Chin in 1985

Tiffany Chin in 1985

The 1985 Worlds ceremony

If Katarina Witt had had a slight edge over her competitors in the 1984 Olympics, this time Witt won the game fair and square with much leftover. Witt here showed what she was made of. One of Witt's many talents was her ability to land triple jumps. In today's standards, their quality might not be a top-notch, but very few skaters in her days could handle triple jumps as well as she. After the 1984 Olympics, with Denise Biellman and Elaine Zayak out of the way, Katarina Witt seemed unbeatable. Witt rose supremely here like a skater of iron; she appeared more technically tuned and focused than ever.

Kira Ivanova was a Russian skater born in 1963 and died in 2001. Ivanova won a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics,and won silver in the 1985 Worlds, second to Katarina Witt. Ivanova was known for her brilliance on compulsories but her free skating was not her strength. Based on the the clip above, the 1985 European Championships, it's difficult to imagine that Ivanova somehow managed to beat other competitors to stand next to Katarina Witt.

Tiffany Chin here showed a good flow throughout the program, and her jumps were clean without glitz. However, her moves were in general unripe and premature. Witt might be blunt and rough but Witt's skating was superior to Chin's. Obviously, Katarina Witt in 1985 was nearly impossible for anybody to beat. Although Tiffany Chin was a promising skater, and she seemed to have many good contents Katarina Witt didn't have, overall, the 1985 Worlds was one-sided competition from the beginning, or perhaps not even competition at all.

In the 1986 Worlds, Debi Thomas beat Katarina Witt. This time, Witt seemingly became a victim of the old system's math. If it's based on a point-based system, in which your accumulated points - that it, quality-converted-to-points - will reflect your entire performances, how well or bad you have performed matters. Therefore, you need to minimize your mistakes, but in the old 6.0 system, a skater's placement among her competitors is more important. Witt here momentarily lost balance at the beginning of short program, which would result in her eventual defeat to Thomas, but whether Thomas really performed better than Witt wasn't sure except the fact that Thomas was a qualitatively better skater than Witt. However, in the 1980s, Witt's level was rightfully at the very top of the world, and Witt's remarkable grip on jumping and flow throughout the program and her way of skating was something no other skaters at the time could emulate. Thanks to her remarkable stamina Witt's skating was powerful, rarely showing fatigue even after free skating, which is her greatest asset. Here, Witt skated more line-consciously to contemporary pop music to maximize her appeal. Katarina Witt was a skater who knew how to compete, and more importantly how to beat others.

I won't say Debi Thomas skated here enough to knock off Katarina Witt. Somehow Thomas skated to much less than her full potential, but definitely you can see the skating level Debi Thomas demonstrated above actually edges Witt out. In the middle of footage, Witt's face was overlapped. I wonder what ran in her mind. I kind of sentimentally guess Witt's expression. Although Witt's greatest interest must have been the outcome of the competition, I can't help thinking a bit of frustration from Witt's face. Since the early 1980s Witt had been at the top of the world, but she still couldn't pull off the kind of quality Debi Thomas flaunted here whose skating career was far shorter than Witt's. Thomas' overall performance might not be good enough to actually beat Witt, but Witt witnessed something evasive in her skating right in her American competitor. As a matter of fact, two skaters were both power skaters; both were tall and strong. Both heavily depended on power and stamina. But in Thomas' skating there was a graceful embodiment of sport, as if Thomas had always had it, which had been so evasive in Witt's skating.

Tiffany Chin was a technically amazing skater, and her program was seamlessly flowing without any impediment.Chin seems to remind me of Elaine Zayak in that she was a bit short and technically proficient, but I find her much less than Elaine Zayak. Tiffany Chin's problem was while she demonstrated some quality in speed, jumping ability and general flow yet she was immature at controlling transitions between moves and her posture was too stiff, which appears more apparent in her landing. But overall Chin was definitely medal worthy and a threat to both Thomas and Witt. Above is not Tiffany Chin's short program in the 1986 Worlds. I can't find any clip of her short program in the 1986 Worlds. Tiffany Chin's greatest problem would be her physiological disadvantage. But considering that, Chin showed a remarkable proficiency in both technical elements and expressiveness. Chin seems to understand that all her moves have to be a language despite that fact that her technical elements often looked incomplete or rough.

Here, as you see, Katarina Witt put the crowd at her feet with her masterful performance. Witt had such a tenacious control over her elements such as jumps; Witt literally ruled the game.

Caryn Kadavy was a skater who was physiologically most desirable among the lot of the 1987 competition. As Scott Hamilton mentioned she was the one who could have won if she a bit upped her performance. Kadavy had skating assets in perhaps most admirable quality. Only her on-site performance was not brilliant enough to surpass Witt or Thomas. However, Kadavy could be a potential winner all the time as long as she would bring her A- game. In short Kadavy had what Witt didn't have and would be dying to have. What lacked in Kadavy's skating to win was just a few drops more of technical mastery. Pity that Kadavy couldn't control her moves better. Kadavy, whose skating was focused on bodily line and balance that looks breathtakingly glamorous, didn't have tenacity or stamina like Witt, nor did she have technical proficiency like Tiffany Chin. Kadavy's skating asset was what other skaters would kill for but lacked of competitive edge in technique compared to her competitors.

In the above Manley showed her worth as a strong competitor who could threaten Witt. As much as Manley was competent in handling jumps and moves, yet you can't be sure what particularly in her skating would surpass Witt. Manley didn't look much superior to Witt or any top competitors. Witt had a few distinctive merits that set her a few steps ahead of others, her competitors often failed to bring their A-game or sometimes what they accomplished fell into grey zone. So despite many of Witt competitors were equally potent like Witt, they were left in the dust even when they actually performed better than Witt. The program by Manley in the above was actually the best game she had ever pulled off. The speed and her body control throughout the program were breathtaking. Each jump was marked for its strength and accentuated with confidence and unmarred proficiency. Manley's approach to jumps was particularly impressive without any defect or imbalance. In fact, that's how skaters in Witt's time could have stood out. Manley was here aggressive and to the point. One fall cost significantly at the time because most competitors were basically able to bring clean programs, and they all were qualitatively equal skaters. That, on the other hand, shows how competitively strong Katarina Witt was. Despite Thomas' blunder in the middle of program, she was a skater of the most definitive line and extensions. The truth is in Witt's time, many of Witt's competitors were as good as Witt. Some may excel in one or two aspects; some may overall. But Witt topped them all in the end.


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