1983 Canadian Figure Skating Championships

Tracey Wainman hit rock bottom at the 1983 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Montreal. The newspapers wrote articles hyping her comeback, and CTV did a puff piece. Wainman gave an interview to the Montreal Gazette saying she had never trained harder for a competition. Yet she finished a lowly seventh, a shocking result for a former champion and such a big star. Many years later she admitted in an interview that she hadn’t trained her double axel or triple salchow at all for a long time, but didn’t feel it would be sporting to withdraw from the competition. She just hoped she could rely on her adrenaline to help her land them on the night. On a positive note, this is the competition in which Tracey Wainman girl became Tracey Wainman woman: her jumps may have declined, but her artistry was sophisticated and stunning, the class of the field. When she took to the ice, the arena was still enthralled; 7th or not, she had that star power.

She finished 2nd in the figures to Kay Thomson, 8th in the short program and a disastrous 10th in the long program. The short program was a jazzy flapper routine, with great footwork, but she fell on a very cautious double axel attempt, and completed only a double lutz-double toe as the combination, and even the double lutz looked shaky. It surely didn’t help that this was the year Kay Thomson landed a triple lutz in her short program. Wainman was so flustered that she finished her short program after the music had ended. In the long program, she attempted one double axel and fell, singled the other two planned double axels, and did a double salchow instead of a triple. Yet her choreography and artistry was stunning. One brave — and correct — judge gave her a 5.6 for artistic impression, while the rest had her in the 4.0s owing to her lack of technical content. But artistically, she was head and shoulders above the rest of the Canadian women. By this time, she was working with Uscher Keszler Boornazian, the German choreographer who devised Brian Orser’s routines. After the competition, Keszler told the Globe and Mail: “Some skaters smile with their face, Tracey smiles with her whole body.” (Or something like).

Wainman herself said the whole arena was silent in Montreal and she couldn’t wait to get off the ice and hug her mother. A few months after Canadians, Wainman was suffering from tendonitis, and announced she would miss the entire 1983/1984 season, according to an article in The Globe and Mail. She had also returned to Ellen Burka. Reading between the lines, I deduced all was not well between Wainman and Doug Leigh, though she never said a bad word about him. But they clashed during a particularly “vociferous” training session on New Year’s Eve, according to an article by Mary Ormsby in The Toronto Star. He probably felt she wasn’t working hard enough on her jumps, but who knows what she was going through.

Here are her SP and LP from Canadians 1983

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