Tracey Wainman was the undisputed star of the 1980 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Kitchener, Ontario. At the age of 12, she won a bronze medal at her first senior nationals, and her long program earned her a standing ovation. The CTV commentator Debbi Wilkes recalls how “grown men cried in the stands” watching her, and her co-host Johnny Esaw said: “the crowd is buzzing and buzzing and buzzing. Remember the name, remember the face, you’re going to see it one day on a World Championship Trophy.” Esaw clearly fell in love with her: back in the days before VCRs, CTV broadcast Wainman’s long program several times that week — a couple of times on the weekend and then later again during the week. I remember my whole family crowded around the TV in excitement; my sister and I were both low-level skaters at the Cricket Club, so to see one of our own make it big was a thrill.
Wainman placed 3rd in the figures, 7th in the short program, and 2nd in the long program, earning marks as high as 5.6. In the short program, she failed to complete the combination, turning a planned double axel-double loop into a single axel, but she landed a beautiful solo double axel at the end. In the long program, she landed one triple salchow and three double axels, electing not to attempt a triple toe loop and second triple salchow. She skated to a selection of music including excerpts from Khatchaturian’s Gayaneh Ballet, ending in the ultimate 1970s skating music, the Sabre Dance.
In a Weekend magazine article printed after the competition, the journalist wrote that Wainman had already mastered the triple salchow and triple toe loop and was training a triple loop, but had not yet landed one cleanly.
Such was the excitement following her long program that the CFSA elected to send Wainman, rather than the champion, Heather Kemkaren, to the 1980 World Championships in Dortmund, West Germany. The decision caused controversy, and fuelled a lot of resentment towards Wainman among other skaters who thought she was being given special treatment and was a flash-in-the-pan who should wait her turn. The CFSA saw Wainman as the future, and said “she will leave the judges talking”. They also wanted to ensure she competed before the ISU brought in a minimum age rule for the World Championships, which they were contemplating doing in 1981. Kemkaren saw the writing on the wall and decided to retire.
Here’s her LP: