1994 US Nationals

The following is the report I posted to the (now-defunct) Usenet newsgroup rec.skate immediately following the 1994 US Championships:

I made it back from nationals and have gotten caught up on all the backlog of news in this group, so here are some random thoughts and impressions of my own.

Scott Davis gave another performance that was just as exciting as the one he did last year. When he landed his second triple axel, the whole place just went wild as people realized he was outskating Brian Boitano. I thought Boitano's performance looked better in person that what I'd seen on TV from competitions earlier this season, though; his spins and footwork didn't seem as sluggish. OTOH, the quality of his jumps wasn't that impressive. I was sitting right in the corner where he did his triple lutz (yes, I was in the front row right behind the Hershey's Kisses sign!) and it looked *really* crooked in the air and jerky on the landing in both the technical program and the free skate.

The best single jump of the whole competition had to be Aren Nielsen's triple axel. Wow.

As to what happened to Mark Mitchell -- he completely blew the jump combination in the technical program when he fell on his triple axel. I got the impression that he was just so bummed out about being so far behind going in to the free skate that he just gave up. It was pretty sad. I'd had a chance to talk to his parents earlier in the week and they were all just hoping that he'd manage to skate well, not necessarily that he'd make it to the Olympics.

Rudy Galindo also had problems with his combination in the technical program, but he did come back and skate well in the long program. I was impressed with Michael Weiss (last year's junior champion) too, in spite of him also having triple axel problems. As others have mentioned, Michael Chack had to withdraw because of a combination of a groin injury and a stress fracture.

The worst judging of the competition was definitely giving third place to Courtland and Reynolds in the pairs event. Ugghhh -- they just fell apart in the middle of their program, and aside from having three falls they were having trouble with their spins and other elements. It was awful just to watch them. Kuchiki and Marval had a much better performance overall in spite of a couple rough spots. I don't know what the judges could have been thinking about! Incidentally, Urbanski and Mero also had a disastrous performance with 3 falls and ended up in 7th place. (And this was the first time I can remember Calla Urbanski wearing a costume that wasn't horribly gaudy and tasteless!)

In the dance competition, Punsalan & Swallow had a huge lead after Roca & Sur had to withdraw. They had tied for first in the compulsory dances and won the original dance with a really *steamy* rhumba -- I guess them being married makes it OK for them to do that sort of stuff. :-) The pleasant surprises of the dance competition were Millete & Tebo, who moved up to 4th from 9th last year with an intense Spanish number in the free dance.

The highlight of the ladies' competition was definitely Elaine Zayak. She got a lot of respect for taking such a big risk in coming back to compete again, and it was great to see her skating so well and looking so happy. She seemed really secure with her triple loop and she skated with a nice, mature style and presentation. I hope she decides to keep at it; I think she'd do real well in the new pro-am events.

I was less impressed with the other women. Tonya Harding didn't really need to turn in an exceptional performance to win, and she didn't. She landed some nice big jumps and did some nice fast spins, but overall it seemed kind of heavy and flat. Given that all of the other contenders made so many mistakes, it wasn't at all surprising that the committee decided to go ahead and send Nancy Kerrigan to the Olympics instead.

On another topic, I heard lots of people complaining about the facilities in Detroit. The championships were being held at the same time as a big auto show, and the hotels and parking lots downtown were overflowing and the light rail system couldn't keep up with the crowds. Folks who were staying at the Westin downtown were unhappy about it being way overpriced and not a particularly first-rate hotel anyway, and people who were at the Southfield hotel were unhappy about being so far away from the arena. The arena itself is normally strictly a hockey facility and the concession and restroom facilities there were woefully inadequate for a large audience consisting of mostly women and girls. They didn't even have a good place to put the scoreboard inside the arena, or a display for the names of the competitors who were currently skating, as they have had at past competitions. I also spotted a couple of big rats wandering around the concourse -- yuck! They say that Detroit is bidding for the 1998 worlds and I kind of suspect that they aren't going to be helped by last week's event.

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