An unorthodox Olympics revisit (Part 1) - Albertville and Lillehammer

The first WInter Olympics I ever watched was the Albertville Games in 1992. And of course, it was followed up by the next Olympics just two years later in Lillehammer, when the Summer and Winter Games officially got split up to alternate in two-year cycles.

In the first of six parts in my unorthodox Olympics revisits, I'm looking back at those two competitions - and it's unorthodox because I'll be revisiting my favorite programs that did NOT win medals. As much as we herald the medal winners' performances, it's important to remember the spectacular ones that never made it to the podium. So let's take a walk down memory lane.

What were YOUR favorite non-medal winning programs from 92 and 94?

Chen Lu CHN
1992 Olympics free skate

Never mind that Chen Lu never really figured out how to do a proper sit spin (!!), this was most certainly the most underrated program in the ladies' event. Six clean triples - a feat that no other woman in the competition was able to pull off. She ended up 5th in the free and 6th overall. Hilarious N.B.: Verne Lundquist using the term "Far East" multiple times ... a sign of the times.

Christopher Bowman USA
1992 Olympics free skate

Christopher Bowman's story is one that has been retold multiple times in American skating circles. One of the big talents in the late 80s, Bowman never skated to his potential in his two Olympic appearances, but this one was a memorable one. He finished 4th in the free and overall. This would be his second-to-last competition.

Jenni Meno/Todd Sand USA
1994 Olympics free skate

I always had a soft spot for Jenni Meno/Todd Sand, partly for their consistency, partly for being innovative in their elements, and partly for their connection. This free skate was a big international hurrah for them, and it set them up for podium contention in the next four years - they ended up winning a World medal three of the next four years before they retired. They ended up 5th in the free and overall.

N.B.: Todd Sand competed singles for Denmark from 1981-1983. He ended up going to three Olympics in the 1990s, once with Natasha Kuchiki (92) and twice with Meno (94, 98).

Yuka Sato JPN
1994 Olympics free skate

She was never a technical powerhouse, but Yuka Sato always blew you away with her basics. This program was a bit lost in the second-to-last group amid all the Tonya Harding broken lace drama, but it was certainly one of the best of the night. Sato was 5th in the free and overall.

Katarina Witt GER
1994 Olympics free skate

Embed from Getty Images

Having started watching skating in 1990s, I never came to appreciate Katarina Witt back in her years of dominance in the 80s. But her return to the Olympics made an impression on me in 1994, but it wasn't until I watched this free skate again years later that I was truly struck by its magnificence, and the way in which Witt conveyed emotion throughout. And it was fitting that she was the once who closed the competition. 

Though she skated this program better earlier in the season, it was one of the few times in her career where she went for and landed the triple loop, a jump she did not attempt all season. She was 8th in the free and 7th overall. 

Drop what you're doing and spend 4 1/2 minutes on this program. It's perhaps the masterpiece she never expected to have.

Bonus below: Her carefree, clean 6th-place technical program