1981 St Ivel

Tracey Wainman won the gold medal at the 1981 St Ivel Ice International competition in London, England, in September 1981. It was her first international title, and she was only 14. She finished 3rd in the figures, 2nd in the short program and 1st in the free skating. In the short program, her double axel was “a bit shaky, but I was still pleased with it,” she told a reporter. Her combination was a double flip-double loop (this was the last year the double flip was the required combination jump), and her program’s theme was the Charleston. In the long program, she landed a triple salchow and three double axels. She doubled her first attempt at a triple salchow. On the second one, it looks as if her free leg swung wildly on the landing, but the video footage (see below) is not clear. Her double axel looked strong.

This was her first competition under her new coach, Doug Leigh. She had moved to Orillia in the summer to train with Leigh, whose profile had risen dramatically following the success of his star pupil, Brian Orser. He had just won his first Canadian title, finished sixth at his Worlds debut and turned heads with his clean-as-a-whistle triple axels. Wainman probably hoped that some of that jumping magic would rub off on her. She also later said that she wanted to escape the goldfish bowl of the Cricket Club, where it felt like the whole world was scrutinising every fall. But leaving Ellen Burka did not turn out to be a great career move. The early signs were hopeful, with her victory at St Ivel and a few weeks later at Skate Canada. But in the end her jumping ability would decline under Doug Leigh, not that it was his fault — perhaps her career would have gone through a slump under Burka as well.

In winning St Ivel, she defeated Jackie Farrell, a US skater who would finish 4th at her Nationals a few months later in 1982, and who had won the Ennia Challenge Cup the previous year. Farrell landed a triple flip and triple toe loop in her long program, according to reports (Farrell also reportedly had a triple loop in her repertoire, but she seemed to disappear from the scene after 1982; she later admitted her career had unravelled due to an eating disorder). The bronze medalist was Karen Wood, the British champion who had finished 15th at the 1981 Worlds and had a triple loop in her repertoire. Claudia Kristofics-Binder, the world bronze medalist from Austria, finished 4th. It was the second time Wainman had beaten her.

After St Ivel, people started talking about Wainman as a threat for the World podium. Dick Button, commentating during Vikki de Vries’s 1981 Skate America performance, said that the American faced competition for the World title from Tracey Wainman of Canada.

Here’s a section of her LP from 1981 St Ivel


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