From the Bowels: 80s Pairs’ Olympics Hot Messes

In preparation for the Vancouver pairs competition I dug up some of the performances from the 80s to jog my memory on how that competitive field looked, and how far that discipline has come. At the time, I was graduating from elementary (’84) and high school (’88). I MUST have watched these Games with my mom, but don’t remember any of these performances. Upon review, it’s no wonder why! And, in the midst of all the complaints about the CoP System, a peek back at the 6.0 system shows some politicized judging at it’s worst.

Valova & Vasiliev Reign

First, I came across this priceless human interest story, featuring ’84 Sarajevo champions Valova & Vasiliev (he the coach of Mukhortova & Trankov). After starting out like a Bel Ami video (prurient giggling by babbling brook), it shows them buckled down at the Leningrad Institute of Physical Culture, “a veritable medal factory.”

What a glimpse into the thriving machine that was Mother Russia (the Soviet Union). Boy, they sure appear to have them under a tight thumb (not that that grip is any looser these days). And, what a reminder of Moskvina’s longevity. The video also features their flawed, but gold-medal Classical Beatles LP, which ran out of gas at the end (as compared to the Carruthers’ flawless performance).

Fast forward four years to the Calgary Games (1988), and V&V display the most deliciously dated program and costumery imaginable, with their “The Final Countdown” LP. I was giddy to discover this pinnacle of the “Eye of the Tiger” alpha-male jam genre was used for a program. This program leaps to the top of my skating camp classics! One part Star Trek crew (with diagonal, cross-breast bands), one part bumblebee, their costumes, complete with black tights for her are in the worst taste…but, what could be better?! Her blouse/skirt one-piece sort of drips off her backside, saying “look at my ass,” ala Weir. Perhaps this is where he takes some of his Rusky fashion inspiration? Their SP costumes are even more ridiculous: Flash Gordon + A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. How precious that Dick refers to her as “plump,” and feigns it as a compliment.

American Pairs Best

Back to Sarajevo, this time with the Carruthers’ flawless LP. The program and music hold up pretty well, even in hindsight. But, it featured the (homemade?) costume he recently donned on NBC’s Vancouver “Figure Skating Review & Preview.” They have amazing attack and speed throughout, and their overall unison would have to be counted among some of the best we see even today. I don’t feel it suffers by comparison to V&V in “expression.” I sure miss these pairs’ elements: “hydrant lifts,” “lateral twist lifts,” and their penultimate move (“pulls”). It was also interesting to learn what a “Tango Camel” is. Their SP, to Herb Alpert/Muzak-style quasi-disco is a hoot, although well skated.

Watson & Oppegard’s Calgary LP features Peter’s hawt frosted doo (shades of Donna Mills in Knots Landing). His costume is also priceless. To think I had an outrageous crush on him, AND he was considered quite the on-ice heartthrob? On what planet does a straight man present this way? So hard to believe he is now married to Karen Kwan.

Tiger Beat Oppegard: Pensive Peter

Their triple twist has NO height…she practically completes it on the ground. And, I’m amazed they held onto the bronze with a fall. In the deep pair’s field in Vancouver this would NOT have medalled. Peter seems to acknowledge this here. Their warmth towards each other in the kiss-n-cry is touching, but don’t miss the glimpse of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader look-alike! Their latin disco SP (ala “Copacabana”) is a gay ol’ time, or gringe-worthy…depending on how you see it.

While we’re on the issue of falling in competition. Check out this amazing profile, featuring Sports Psychologist, Dr. David Coppel. Dr. David…any room on your white couch for head cases Sasha or Alissa?

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2 comments so far

  1. Vlad on

    Yeah.A lot of memorable moments.

  2. Fergus on

    Mmmm, Peter O. was such a dreamboat!


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