1981 Skate Canada

Tracey Wainman won Skate Canada, her second international title, in October 1981, in Ottawa. It was her second international title in three weeks, and she defeated a strong field. This included world bronze medalist Claudia Kristofics-Binder of Austria, future US and World Champion Rosalynn Sumners, future world silver medalist Kira Ivanova of the Soviet Union (then ranked 12th in the World), 1981 US silver medalist Priscilla Hill who was ranked 7th in the world, and Claudia Leistner of West Germany, who would go on to place in the top 5 at the 1982 Worlds a few months later, and win the silver at the 1983 World Championships. And of course Elizabeth Manley, who actually won the short program here, but fell apart in the free skating and finished sixth or seventh.

It’s not that Wainman blew them all away: she was the model of consistency in a topsy-turvy field. Wainman finished 3rd, 3rd and 3rd in the figures, short program and free skating, and it was enough for victory. She landed the double axel in the short program, even though her free leg swung wildly on the landing, according to The Globe. In the long, it was a repeat of her St Ivel performance: three double axels, and a triple salchow near the end of her program, after popping the first one. The triple salchow was also a little wild, but it was clean. And her final double axel, in the last seconds of her program, was a beauty: hard to believe that just over a year later she wouldn’t be landing any. Her program had all her usual speed and pep, but it had a beautiful slow part too: Debbi Wilkes said it showed off her artistic growth. It was a great 1980s program with lots of different cuts of music: the only I can name is Ponchielli’s Dance of the Hours (Hello Muddah…). And it was gutsy to have a double axel to open, and one in the final seconds of her program (shades of Carolina Kostner daringly ending on a triple salchow).

Rosalynn Sumners won the free skating, in probably one of her best long programs ever in terms of technical content: she landed at least four triples, and possibly five (she had landed five a few weeks earlier at Skate America). But she was so far back in figures that she had to settle for silver. Kira Ivanova won the bronze with a triple toe, salchow and loop, according to reports; two years later she’d finish 3rd at the 1984 Games in Sarajevo, by which time Wainman had retired temporarily from skating. I think Priscilla Hill finished fourth (a few months later she would crash and burn at the 1982 US Figure Skating Championships, and retire), though it might have been Claudia Kristofics-Binder, who Wainman defeated three times in fall internationals, yet the lanky Austrian leg-wrapper always seemed to wind up on the podium at Worlds.

After winning Skate Canada, Wainman won the 1981 Athlete of the Year award from the Canadian Press (Wayne Gretzky won the male equivalent). Also around this time she was appearing in a McCain orange juice commercial with Crazy Canuck skier Ken Read (“it’s world class too!”) and had appeared on the Global TV magazine show That’s Life with Ann Rohmer. I can remember a friend of my mum’s met Wainman at the Cricket Club around this time (she would occasionally come back and skate there, even though she was training in Orillia) and being charmed by her. She said she chatted to them and then went and performed a “triple whatchamacallit and landed with her leg straight out”. I’m guessing it was a salchow.

Here’s her LP from Skate Canada


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