As the countdown to the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 in Montreal, Quebec continues, we look back at previous world championships staged in Canada. Part 7 of the ten-part series reflects on the 1996 edition of the event in Edmonton.
The eyes of the skating world were on two-time defending champion Elvis Stojko as the 1996 ISU World Figure Skating Championships rolled into Edmonton, Alberta.
Skating on home soil, Stojko had an entire country step on to the ice with him as he went in search of a worlds three-peat at Northlands Coliseum.
It wasn’t to be.
A stumble in the short program dropped the native of Richmond Hill, Ontario, into seventh spot and facing an uphill battle heading into the final night of competition.
But Stojko wasn’t going to be dethroned without a fight.
On an unforgettable night of free programs that had the crowd of over 15,000 constantly on its feet, Stojko made a spirited run for the podium but came up just short, finishing in fourth spot. American Todd Eldridge took home the gold medal, just in front of 18-year-old Russian Ilia Kulik. Rudy Galindo of the United States held off Stojko for bronze.
“That was the best skating by the most people I have ever seen,” said four-time world champion Kurt Browning after the dramatic evening had concluded.
Stojko called the evening “magical, inspiring and energetic.”
“That was one of my best skates,” he added. “The crowd was unreal. The whole thing was unreal.”
After back-to-back top-10 finishes at the world championships, Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz earned their first worlds medal in Edmonton. The duo claimed a bronze medal, finishing behind Russians Oksana Grishuk and Evgeny Platov (gold) and Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov (silver).
It was Canada’s first ice dance medal at the world championships since Tracy Wilson and the late Rob McCall won bronze eight years earlier.
“The skate in itself felt wonderful,” Bourne told reporters. “And how the crowd reacted, and how it all just ended with a medal on top of it was so overwhelming. It’s hard to put words to it.”
The finish was the first of four consecutive bronze medals at the world championships for Bourne and Kraatz. They would also claim silver in 2002 before winning the world crown in 2003.
Teenage sensation Michelle Kwan of the United States claimed her first world championship in Edmonton. After China’s Lu Chen laid down a flawless long program which included two perfect 6.0 marks for presentation, Kwan knew she would have to be near perfect to win the world title. After doubling her triple toe, one of her seven planned triple jumps, Kwan replaced her double axel with another triple toe late in the program. Kwan also received two perfect presentation marks, and six of the nine judges gave her the edge over Chen.
Following her triumph in Edmonton, Kwan would go on to medal at the next eight world championships, including four more wins.
Russians Marina Eltsova and Andrey Bushkov won the pairs title, with both Canadian entries finishing inside the top 10. Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz placed seventh followed by Michelle Menzies and Jean-Michel Bombardier in eighth.
As the world championships closed out in Edmonton, Canada would once again welcome the world in 2001, when Vancouver hosted figure skating’s flagship event.
Day tickets for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 are on sale now and can be purchased online at montreal2020.com, by phone at 1-855-310-2525 or in person at the Centre Bell Box Office.
1996 WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS MEDALLISTS
|Men||Todd Eldredge||Ilia Kulik||Rudy Galindo|
|Ladies||Michelle Kwan||Chen Lu||Irina Slutskaya|
|Pair skating||Marina Eltsova / Andrei Bushkov||Mandy Wötzel / Ingo Steuer||Jenni Meno / Todd Sand|
|Ice dancing||Oksana Grishuk / Evgeni Platov||Anjelika Krylova / Oleg Ovsyannikov||Shae-Lynn Bourne / Victor Kraatz|