1985 Skate America

Tracey Wainman returned to the big time at the 1985 Skate America competition in St Paul, Minnesota. It was her first major international competition in three years, since the 1982 St Ivel, when she was on her way down. Now she was on her way back up, after a downfall and a layoff. She won the silver medal behind new US superstar Debi Thomas, who had finished 5th at the 1985 World Championships. Her placements in the three events were 2nd, 2nd and 2nd. The highlight was a clean short program, her era-defining routine to Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, choreographed with Ellen Burka and Kevin Cottam. The US commentator Judy Blumberg said Wainman “lit the audience on fire”. She landed a clean double axel-double loop, the combination that had given her so much trouble during the 1980/1981 season. Apparently there was a heavy Canadian media presence at this event, and all the Canadian officials came out of the accounting room to watch her skate, said Blumberg — there was buzz in the skating world that Tracey Wainman was back, and they wanted to witness her comeback.

Her long program was a success, too: Wainman was a sophisticated showgirl, skating a jazzy, captivating routine to Caravan and Victor, Victoria. The US commentator remarked on her “interpretive hands” and Judy Blumberg said her enthusiasm showed in her entire body. She fell on a huge triple salchow, but her three double axels were solid and effortless. Her marks were in the low 5s, I seem to remember, but it was enough for 2nd. Katrien Pauwels of Belgium, who I know nothing about, was 3rd. I think Claudia Villiger of Switzerland and Kathryn Adams of the US were also in the field. It wasn’t a particularly tough field, but Wainman’s silver medal was nonetheless a triumph, and clearly the skating world was happy she was back.

I remember seeing her exhibition for this event too. She was in black and skating to a vocal version of Victor, Victoria. She opened with a big delayed single axel and then did a double axel. Judy Blumberg remarked how Tracey’s flowing style made you want to strap on a pair of skates and get out there yourself.

Here is video of her 1985 Skate America LP. If anyone has her short, please post. (Note, ignore the label at the beginning that says it’s Skate Canada, it’s a mistake)


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