Figure Skating | 1994 Olympics - Ice Dance Final

Well, it's Monday, so you know that means we take a trip down memory lane to the land of my people, Norway, and discuss figure skating of Olympics past. This week, just like me, we're stuck in 1994, and it's time to talk about Ice Dancing. 

Instead of going through the entire final group, this week we're just going to talk about the top three, because everyone else was boring and anonymous. We all know the competition is between the two Russian teams, and the greatest ice dancing team of ALL TIME DO NOT QUESTION ME, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean of Great Britain.

Of course, this being the 90's... before we even take the ice, there's a ton of drama to sift through. So let's do that first, starting with the Russians. 

This is so juicy and dramatic, I hate that I have to give the cliff's notes version of this, but we don't have all day here. So... Oksana 'Pasha' Grishuk and Evgeny Platov were the up and coming stars of Ice Dancing. Maya Usova and Aleksander Zhulin were the heir apparent to the gold after winning bronze in Albertville two years before. Pasha was a fame hungry social climber who may or may not (probs) have had ties to the Russian mafia. ALLEGEDLY. 

Pasha and Zhulin had an affair. Usova punched her lights out at a restaurant. This caused Natalia Dubova to kick Pasha to the curb and find another partner for Platov. Buuuuuuutttttt, they didn't break up and trained somewhere else. 

So now we're at the Olympics, and Maya Usova has to skate with her husband against the woman he had an affair with. For that alone, I want her to have ALL of the gold medals. She's prettier anyway. They never cheat up, girl. Just remember that. 

Now that's not it for the drama. We have Torvill and Dean, at the ANCIENT and VERY ELDERLY ages of 36 back after winning the Olympics in 1984. They don't have drama on the Russian scale, but there's plenty to go around. 

Christopher Dean was married to 1992 silver medalist Isabelle Duchesnay. She gave an interview at the end of their 2-3 year marriage that she always felt Jayne was the third person in their marriage and it caused problems. The only time Jayne smiled at her, she says, was when she told her she was divorcing Dean. This fed into the innuendos and rumors that Torvill and Dean bumped uglies for the last 20 years. I don't believe it, but it's good gossip. Christopher Dean THEN got serious with 1991 World Champion Jill Trenary, who is in the stands cheering for him at this Olympics. 

But the real scandal is the reception of Torvill and Dean's Free Dance at the Europeans. Now, this was what I consider to be the 'dark ages' of Ice Dance (Roller is going through this right now) where they threw a bunch of rules at a discipline to help it make more sense. It was a mess. Their style of skating pushed a lot of these envelopes and the judges went NOPE, so they went back to England and changed their whole free dance before the Olympics... a matter of weeks. 

Heading into the free dance, the Russians dominated the compulsory dances. Torvill and Dean were really tight and they frankly didn't look fresh out there, especially in the Blues. This is also a style thing, because British skating is very different than international skating, and looks much more robotic than the other countries. (Something the Americans suffer from on the Roller side of the sport) 

Things changed in the Original Dance, as Torvill and Dean skated an inspired, near perfect Rhumba and got back into the game. Now we have a competition! So let's look at each team's Free Dance. 

Usova and Zhulin

Usova and Zhulin are the reigning world champs coming into this Olympics, but the rule changes played to their weaknesses. First of all, the music and costumes aren't natural for them. It's too try-hard. It also highlights their weak lifts, and skating on two feet most of the routine. It would have been so much better for them if they would have gone with a classic waltz or foxtrot medley. This choreography was schlocky and makes me sad. I'm gonna go watch their Four Seasons routine now. 

Grishuk and Platov

This was a lovely second place Free Dance. I know they won, but they won by default. Not because this was spectacular and brought them up from third place to win the gold. I think it was smart to do a routine like this with all of the scandal surrounding her, because, hey... she's just a rock n' roll chick, ya know? I like that they skate with great speed and had a decent amount of difficult footwork and lifts. They got a gift, and they should be grateful. 

Torvill and Dean

Hello, Police? I'd like to report a robbery. 

This was such utter bullshit. I'm basically rage typing this right now. Back in first place after the OD, this routine should have won them another gold. It's perfection. But because they make things look a little too easy, it confused the referee and assisted jumps were counted as lifts, exceeding the allotted five lifts allowed at the time in Free Dance (why) and spanked them with deductions. 

While they can do no wrong in my eyes, I did think parts of the choreography were repetitive at times, but that's Dean's style. He likes a repeat. Technically speaking, no one could touch them. Homegirl does a rocker into footwork into a modified throw 1.5 loop, without breaking hold. That's just ONE THING. They did four and a half full minutes of that. 

The lift thing is open to interpretation, I guess. Again, they make everything look so easy, it's hard for even me to discern lift from assisted jump, especially since they modify so many pairs moves to fit into dance rules. 


So that's all for this trip down memory lane. Next week, we're gonna live in the moment for a change while I cover the US Roller Figure Skating Nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska. See you then! 

Jennifer Gulbrandsen