“They say history repeats itself. It’s been 25 years since Detroit was the epicenter of the figure skating world.”
— From a U.S. Figure Skating promotional video for the 2019 national championships in Detroit.
Todd Sand’s first response to the question of what he remembered most about the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit is not as surprising as it seems.
“It was the year the pros were coming back,” Sand said. “That was the main chatter leading up to the season and the nationals.”
Indeed it was.
And the 1994 nationals would be the first significant place to gauge the impact of the International Skating Union’s 1992 decision to give professionals the option to be reinstated for Olympic-style events. That put 1988 Olympic champion Brian Boitano and 1982 world champion Elaine Zayak into the mix for the 1994 Olympic team, a competition made more cutthroat by the U.S. having earned just two spots in both men’s and women’s singles for those Winter Games in Norway.
The denouement of those comebacks figured to be the big story in Detroit.
“Yeah, right,” Zayak said, with a hearty laugh, when reminded of that scenario this week. “I really made a comeback the right year, huh?”
Zayak’s standing-ovation-worthy skating to get fourth place after seven years away from any serious competition and Boitano’s making the Olympic team with a disappointing second to Scott Davis now are among the footnotes to the most attention-getting and notorious story in the history of figure skating in the United States.
You likely remember it: The attack on Nancy Kerrigan by associates of Tonya Harding that marked its silver anniversary on Sunday.