1986 World Figure Skating Championships

Tracey Wainman finished a respectable 9th at the 1986 World Figure Skating Championships in Geneva. It was a satisfying return to world competition after five years away — she even managed to finish one place higher than her 10th place finish in 1981, when she was a child superstar. This seemed like a much calmer, less jittery and nervous Tracey Wainman.

Her 5th place finish in the figures was impressive at her first Worlds in five years, and should have been even higher. Her placements in the figures were 6-2-2. Ellen Burka later told me that Wainman should have won the loop, it was the best she had ever seen.

The short program had the potential to be a disaster. At her last Worlds in 1981, Wainman came undone during the short program, falling on her dreaded double axel-double loop combination, undoubtedly nervous skating in the final flight. But in 1986, Wainman slayed those demons. Skating in the final flight, alongside world champion Katarina Witt and medalists Tiffany Chin and Kira Ivanova, Wainman rose to the occasion and landed the combination perfectly, as well as her other double axel. It marked the fifth competition in a row she had landed the double axel-double loop, a great achievement for her after her troubles with it in previous years. The crowd gave her a rousing ovation. Funnily, she opted to skate in her red long-program dress, rather than the sleek black outfit she had worn throughout the season. She finished 11th in the short program, which was fair enough given that there was no triple and she was effectively starting again at Worlds.

The long program was also solid, but slightly subdued compared to her firecracker of a performance at the 1986 Canadian Figure Skating Championships. She completed three perfect double axels, but fell on her triple salchow, which must have been a huge disappointment for her, as by now, it was a consistent jump. Debbi Wilkes remarked that she didn’t have enough height, and Johnny Esaw said: “She does so many things so well, but when the other girls have triples, you’ve got to have triples.” Wainman probably slightly had the wind taken out of her sails before she skated: Elizabeth Manley skated one of the all-time great free skates, with four triples, including a lutz and a loop, to finish 3rd in the long; Wainman must have seen all the 5.8s going up on the board and felt extra pressure to justify her defeat of Manley at Canadians a month earlier. Not that they were arch rivals: as Wainman skated onto the ice, she embraced Manley as she was coming off.

And Wainman’s triples had improved too. In a CBC interview the day before the long, Wainman had said she might try a triple loop, if things were going well. Presumably if she had landed the salchow, she would have attempted the loop. I don’t know where it was supposed to be placed in the program, probably where her double loop-double loop combo was. But according to Wainman and her mother, she had started landing triple loops regularly in the month before Worlds. It’s too bad we never got to see it. Incidentally, the reason she hadn’t worn the black dress in the short is that she had a new black number with pink trim for the long.

The judges placed her 11th in the long, and she finished 9th overall. It was a good result. She didn’t look thrilled in the Kiss and Cry with Ellen Burka, but more sort of philosophical, ie, “It wasn’t a bad effort for my first time back, it could have been a lot worse, I’ll take it.” As she told a reporter, “last year I was watching this event on television”.

If anyone has footage of SP or LP, please post, I’d love to see these again.

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