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1994 Worlds:Yuka Sato, Surya Bonaly, and Tonja Szewczenko

Updated on February 9, 2015

Yuka Sato in 1994

Was Bonaly that close to Sato?

Back then, no one had the concept of quality; that is, judges depend on overall impression.

Consequently chances for misjudging were abound, and Surya Bonaly was one of the examples.

Bonaly actually pulled a stunt on the podium ceremony in Japan to protest the outcome of the competition.

However, Bonaly wouldn't have been able to stand on the podium, had the judging been done correctly. Luckily for her, back then judges were not aware of quality in figure skating.

Bonaly's skating was, perhaps, the worst of all time among elite figure skaters in history.

Despite the fact that Bonaly was famous for her acrobatic jumping ability, her jumps were of very poor quality and her overall skating was disastrous for a senior skater.

In today's standards, Bonaly would barely fit to junior competition, and she would by no means do well even in that level.

To simply put it, she is categorically not worthy of being called a trained figure skater. It is simply mind boggling that the judges took her skating for legitimate at that time.

Yuka Sato in 1994

The Japanese hope, Yuka Sato, short and stocky like Ito, reminds of Midori Ito, but Sato is more artistically tuned than Ito while much inferior to Ito in power and jump proficiency.

Ito was the first Japanese figure skater who made international success, if my memory is correct.

I think Ito's success must have influenced Sato's skating. You can see Sato skating with power and speed the way Ito did.

Thanks to Bonaly's stunt, Sato found herself in an awkward position at the ceremony. But the competition was never set between Sato and Bonaly or Bonaly and any other.

Bonaly was never that close, in reality, to Sato or better than the bronze medalist; the score sheet was critically flawed.

Surya Bonaly in 1994

I try not to think that Bonaly has any attitude issue.

It appears that Bonaly refused silver medal at the ceremony because she thought she deserves better, that is, she had been unfairly judged.

But the fact is that it was Bonaly that didn't understand figure skating, and the judges produced delusional score sheet that hinted so.

In the old system, Bonaly's technical marks should have remained around 5.2 - 5.4 at her best. Her artistic marks, as much.

Bonaly's unreasonably high marks gave wrong signals and Bonaly developed a delusional idea about her skating.

How can a skater who received failed grades from expert's eye be hailed as podium worthy?

By ratifying her skating, I think the judges actually deprived Bonaly of chances of getting on the track.

Surya Bonaly in 1994

Surya Bonaly: skater who can't skate

It's messy. It's disgraceful.

I can't call it performance. There are many pretentious bustles without substance. Bonaly didn't understand what the figure skating really is.

It seems Bonaly can't wait to throw jumps because she can land them.

Kurt Browning's soft criticism is an understatement. Simply Bonaly's performance without fall cannot surpass Tonja's with two or three falls.

Bonaly's depletion as a skater is too comprehensive to fix. All I can say is "Bonaly can't skate."

Tanja Szewczenko in 1994

Her surname is the most difficult name I have ever encountered. I wish non English speakers make their names a little English friendly when they spell their native name in English.

Tonja Szewczenko is a stylish skater. Hereon, let us content with her first name.

One of her technical flaws is too visible. Tonja tends to make slow revolution in the air. Compared to Katarina Witt, Tonja lacks of agility and power.

Tonja is a skater who did an honest skating, expressive and stylish despite technical deficiency.

In fact, any skater, even if she doesn't yet master jump, should approach figure skating like Tonja.

All moves on ice must have definitive orientation and direction. Their execution must have musical intents and interpretative purposes. Performance must be done based on both physiological and dynamical balance.

Tonja appears slow and less agile than she should. but the way she understands figure skating looks healthy.

Tanja Szewczenko in 1994

In this program, Tonja's jumping technique is not quite the level of Witt.

Actually Tonja's jump cannot be comparable to Witt's. However, her other elements and understanding of figure skating are very attractive.

I only speculate what she could bring forth if she mastered jumps.

She is just delightful to watch.

Marina Kielmann in 1994

Marina Kielmann is another Witt want-to-be. Through Tonja and Kielmann, you will see how great a skater Katarina Witt was.

What do you think about Bonaly's stunt?

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Who do you think is the winner of the 1994 Worlds?

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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hi Jess, this hub offers an interesting comparison between the skaters and good videos.