An unorthodox Olympics revisit (Part 2) - Nagano

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Last time, I had a look at Albertville and Lillehammer, the Olympics that introduced me to the crazy sport of figure skating. On this revisit of the Olympics, I take a look at the last Winter Olympics that was held in Asia, the 1998 Nagano Games. For American skating fans, it will always be known as the Tara vs. Michelle Olympics. For others, it was known for Russia winning the other three disciplines.

Nonetheless, I don't care about the medals here. I continue my revisit of past Olympics with the programs I love that did not make it onto the podium.


What were YOUR favorite non-medal winning programs from 1998?

Surya Bonaly FRA
1998 Olympics free skate

To the casual figure skating observer, Surya Bonaly's swan song free skate and defiant backflip is a memory that has been etched in their minds. What the casual observer doesn't know is that Four Seasons is Bonaly's signature free skate, one that carried her to two World silver medals. It was fitting that she would make this program even more memorable with the backflip heard around the world. She was 11th in the free and 10th overall.

Xue Shen/Hongbo Zhao CHN
1998 Olympics free skate

When they debuted in 21st at the 1994 World Championships, few would've imagined at that time that they would become one of the greatest pairs of all time. But this free skate was the program that catapulted them to stardom. They would finish 5th in the free skate and overall in Nagano, and of course, they went on to win three Olympic medals, including gold in 2010.

Elizabeth Punsalan/Jerod Swallow USA
1998 Olympics free dance

Hard to remember a time when North American teams weren't all over the top of the ice dance standings. But that was the case before the IJS - and in the 90s, it was Shae-Lynn Bourne/Victor Kraatz and Elizabeth Punsalan/Jerod Swallow who held down the fort for the North Americans. This was, incidentally, the debut of this free dance, which put them in 7th ... and not surprisingly back in the day, they were 7th in all four segments of the competition.

Shae-Lynn Bourne/Victor Kraatz CAN
1998 Olympics free dance

Speaking of Bourne/Kraatz, you can't forget the original Riverdance (at least what I remember as the original). And even if this wasn't the original, they set the stage for others to follow with this free dance, which became one of their signature programs. They were pioneers, giving technique and expression the same about of airtime. This program was a harbinger of how ice dance would eventually evolve into where it is now. It put them 3rd in the free dance and just off the podium in 4th overall.

VIDEO: Shae-Lynn Bourne works with Ashley Wagner on La La Land

Maria Butyrskaya RUS
1998 Olympics short program

Before the onslaught of Fever programs this season, there was the original (or again, at least what I remember as the original) - Maria Butyrskaya's instrumental Fever. Like Bonaly, Butyrskaya never did get onto the Olympic podium; her fourth-place finish in Nagano was as close as she could get.