Host City: Sapporo, Japan
Venue(s): Makomanai Indoor Skating Rink, Sapporo; Mikaho Indoor Skating Rink, Sapporo
Date Started: February 4, 1972
Date Finished: February 7, 1972
Format: Each judge ranked each skater by Ordinal Placement from first through last place. The Ordinal Placement for each judge was based on Total Points awarded by that judge to the skaters. The points were based on 50% for Compulsory Figures and 50% for Free Skating, with the tiebreaker for each judge being Compulsory Figure Points. Final placement was determined by a Majority Placement rule. Thus, if a skater was ranked first by a majority of the judges, that skater was placed first overall, and the process was repeated for each place. Ties broken by a Subsequent Majority rule, i.e., if the pairs were ranked for the same position by the same number of judges, Majority Placement for the next higher position for each pair determined who was ranked higher. The tiebreakers were, in order: 1) Number of Majority Placements, 2) Total Ordinals of Majority, 3) Total Ordinals, 4) Total Points, 5) Compulsory Figure Points.
The 1972 Olympic women’s event was one of the most important figure skating events ever, as it would eventually lead to the demise of compulsory figures. Prior to the 1971 World Championships, compulsories counted 60% of a judge’s score, with free skating counting only 40%. But skaters and coaches had been wishing to reverse this, and by 1972, it was changed to a 50-50 mix. One skater who did not want the rules changed was Austria’s Beatrix “Trixi” Schuba, the 1971-72 European Champion and 1971 World Champion, who was not a great free skater but was dominant in the school figures. Her diametric opposite was American Janet Lynn, US champion since 1969, who some figure skating experts still consider the greatest female free skater ever. In Sapporo, the competition was over after the compulsory figures. Schuba led easily over the second American Julie Lynn Holmes, with Janet Lynn in fourth place. As expected Lynn won the free skating comfortably over Canada’s Karen Magnussen. Schuba and Holmes fared poorly in the free skate – Schuba placing seventh and Holmes eighth. But because of the rules in place, Schuba still won the gold – ranked first by all nine judges. Her seventh place in free skating is the worst ever performance in that section by an Olympic gold medalist, and she was actually booed by the crowd because of her mediocre free program. Holmes fell to fourth, as Magnussen won the silver and Janet Lynn the bronze medal.
Because of her difficulties with compulsory figures, Janet Lynn would never win a major international championship. But because of the furor made over the lack of respect her mystical free skating received from the judges, the rules would be changed several times over the next few years to make compulsory figures less important. Eventually they would be eliminated altogether after 1991. Thru the 1990s, American figure skaters would study tapes of Janet Lynn in free skating, trying to learn from the master. Lynn, incidentally, was her middle name, as she was born Janet Lynn Nowicki. But when she became a top skater, her parents thought Janet Lynn would give her better marquee value, and she always competed under that name as a senior.
One skater who was strangely absent in 1972 was East Germany Gabi Seyfert. Seyfert had won the silver medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics, and was then World and European Champion in 1969-70. But she then disappeared from competition. She fell in love with Eberhard Rüger, an ice dancer, and they married, although it is not clear why she stopped competing.
|3||Janet Lynn||18||United States||USA||Bronze||8×3+||23.0||27.0||2,663.1|
|4||Julie Lynn Holmes||20||United States||USA||6×4+||20.0||39.0||2,627.0|
|6||Sonja Morgenstern||17||East Germany||GDR||6×6+||32.0||53.0||2,579.4|
|8||Christine Errath||15||East Germany||GDR||9×9+||78.0||78.0||2,489.3|
|11||Jean Scott||20||Great Britain||GBR||5×11+||52.0||101.0||2,436.8|
|12||Suna Murray||16||United States||USA||8×12+||88.0||102.0||2,426.2|
|13||Cathy Lee Irwin||19||Canada||CAN||6×13+||69.0||116.0||2,383.4|
|14||Isabel Duval de Navarre||15||West Germany||FRG||5×14+||66.0||128.0||2,340.0|
|16||Dianne de Leeuw||16||Netherlands||NED||6×16+||91.0||143.0||2,298.7|
|18||Marina Sanaya||13||Soviet Union||URS||9×18+||160.0||160.0||2,198.6|
|19||Chang Myung-Su||15||South Korea||KOR||9×19+||171.0||171.0||2,117.0|