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Figure Skating – 1986 – World Championships Review – USA Debbie Thomas + USA Brian Boitano Win Gold


Debbie Thomas is an American former figure skater and physician….who was the 1986 World champion…. the 1988 Olympic bronze medalist….and a two-time U.S. national champion. Her rivalry with East Germany’s Katarina Witt at the 1988 Calgary Olympics was known as the Battle of the Carmens.

Thomas won both the 1986 U.S. national title and the 1986 World Championships….which earned Thomas the ABC’s Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year award that year. She was the first female athlete to win those titles while attending college full-time since Tenley Albright in the 1950’s. She was the first African-American to hold U.S. National titles in ladies’ singles figure skating…..and was a pre-med student at Stanford University during this time….although it was unusual for a top U.S. skater to go to college at the same time as competing.  That year she received a Candace Award for Trailblazing from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

Following the 1984 Olympics, several men skaters emerged as likely medal hopes following the retirement of Scott Hamilton….when Brian  Boitano won the 1985 United States Figure Skating Championships….which was the 1st of his four titles. At the first World Championships of the post-Hamilton era in 1985….USSA Alexander Fadeev won….with CAN Bran Orser finishing 2nd….and Brian Boitano 3rd. He had injured tendons in his right ankle a few weeks before the 1986 U.S. Championships but went on to win his second national title.  At the 1986 World Championships, Boitano took the title…. while Fadeev had a disastrous free skate despite having been in an excellent position to win….as Orser finished 2nd once again. 

During the 1986–87 season, Boitano had introduced two new elements to his programs….the Tano triple lutz and a quadruple toe loop…. although he never succeeded in landing a clean quadruple jump in competition. The 1987 World Championships were held in Cincinnati, giving defending World champion Boitano a home-field advantage. The outcome of the event would set the tone for the 1988 Olympics. At Worlds, Boitano fell on his quadruple toe loop attempt and placed second.



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