I am sure that many of my readers understand that I love Figure Skating more than most people. I accept this fact as well. However, this weekend I think I sunk to extreme Figure Skating dorkdom. Ages ago Mom had taken our beloved Beta tapes from the 1988 Olympics and put them on DVDs for me (although I am still waiting for dance, pairs short, and ladies). Sadly, they would not play on my DVD player or on my ps2. However, I hadn’t tried them on the wonder that is the ps3. Lo and behold they worked! Glory be to me.
It was time to pop some popcorn and settle in for some “Battle of the Brians”. Truly, there was never a greater moment in Olympic history. I also got to watch plenty of Chris Bowman (whose cause of death is still unclear and apparently won’t be knows for many weeks) and was struck by how well he would have fared under the current judging system. His spins were more innovative than virtually anyone else on the scene and he had some decent footwork as well. It is truly amazing how far spinning has come over the past 20 years. Jumping has made some strides as well but not to the extent of spinning. I mean how many rotations can a human being possibly do in the air? I bet someone makes a quintuple jump one of these days but, after that, fuggedaboudid.
Anyway, I remember that the Battle of the Brians was excruciatingly close and was essentially won by Boitano’s higher technical merit marks. I was curious to see if the results would have been as close under the new judging system. Why? Cause I’m an enormous dork. I had to base my results primarily on jumps (because I can easily comprehend their assigned point values) and then factored in spins, footwork, and connecting moves to the best of my ability. The way I calculated the technical marks Boitano came out about five points ahead of Orser. Had I subtracted the points for one of Orsers double axels (it wouldn’t have counted today because it wasn’t in combination) it would have been greater but since they didn’t know about that rule I thought it would be unfair. I also didn’t factor in the 10% bonus for jumps at the end of the program because, again, they didn’t know to backload their programs. The biggest difference was that Boitano did two triple axels (although one got a negative grade of execution for a slight two foot). Orser got a negative grade of execution for a two foot and a “wrunch around” on a triple flip, while Boitano’s triple flip got a positive grade of execution. He also may have gotten a negative grade of execution on his last triple toe. It seems to have been two footed but I am not positive. Both of their spins would have been scoffed at today but it seemed to me that Boitano held his positions a little longer and that they were more precise. That camel Orser did, what was that? A comparison of their Death Drops left Orser in the dust.
However, the presentation mark is something I was unsure about. For the past 20 years I have been trying to understand why Orser so greatly outscored Boitano’s presentation marks. Not that I found anything wrong with Orser’s presentation, it was a fine program, but Boitano’s was a mixture of a cohesive story, emotion, superior positioning on basic skating elements, and general awesomeness. His connecting movements were stellar (the spread eagle heard around the world and those Russian splits that hurt to watch) and the choreography was impeccable. Maybe there is something I simply don’t see? There has been a lot of talk that Orsers scores were inflated because it was "his turn" but there has been a lot of talk the other way as well.
I'm not trying to diminish Orser, he was a great skater and put together an awesome program. Either way, my opinion is that, if the current judging system was around in 88, Boitano would have won by much more. Then again, I didn’t judge the short program (which Orser won) so maybe the seven or eight point difference in the long wouldn’t have meant as much? I doubt it though. Anyway, Here they are if you want to be the judge.
Boitano (the program starts at one minute)
1. Every second/ of every minute of the day/ I let my fancy play. Spike The Senses, Of Montreal.
2. OOOHH Baby/ Cry Baby/ Cry Baby/ Welcome back home. Cry Baby, Janis Joplin
3. There are people going hungry/ Far away/ They got nothing on their plates. A Cantury of Fakers, belle and Sebastian.
4. Deep in the bosom of the gentle night/ Is when I search for the light/ Pick up my pen and start to write. Insomnia, Faithless.
5. Glue/ Stuck to my shoe/ Does anyone know why/ We play with an orange rind. Putting The Damage On, Tori Amos.