It was a numerical waiting game – The Trenary and Ito Worlds

Today, the Detroit Red Wings beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3, leaving Chicago dangling precariously in eighth place.

The Blackhawks’ fate is in the hands of the Dallas Stars as they take on the Minnesota Wild. If the Stars fall, the Blackhawks stay where they are, but if Minnesota lose, the Blackhawks become only the fifth team in NHL history to not make a run for Lord Stanley’s Cup after winning the previous season.

This type of situation is reminiscent of the ladies event in 1990 World Figure Skating Championships in Halifax, Canada. Figure skating hasn’t used the 6.0 since 2004, changing over to the Code of Points, or CoP. Eliminated along with the 6.0 were ordinals, which is basically a ranking system.

During the compulsory segment, the 1989 World Champion from Japan, Midori Ito caught her edge and skidded to tenth place, while arch rival American Jill Trenary traced her way to first place in the segment. She was in a position to ship out of Halifax with the title if she skated clean in both the short – then called the original – and long programs.

Trenary looked confident as took to the ice in a gorgeous gold lamé dress, but looks can deceive. She doubled her planned triple combination and tumbled fell to fifth in the short program. By the end of the night, Trenary sat in third place. Meanwhile, Ito flew through her short program with a perfect triple Lutz-double toe combo, and pulled herself up to fourth.

The night of the long program, it was  clear, both Trenary and Ito needed a little help from their friends in order to medal, or win.

In order for Ito to retain her World crown, Trenary had to place third or lower in the long program. In order for Trenary to win, she need to place no lower than second to Ito and beat Kristi Yamaguchi of the U.S., who sat in fifth after placing second in the short program.

The night of the long program, Ito sailed across the ice in a black dress with gold trim as Scheherazade was barely audible over the cheers of the crowd. Ito blazed a trail to first place in the long, and the she played the waiting game.

Trenary had the daunting task of skating after Ito. Donned in an Aladdin inspired blue outfit, she nailed four of five triples in her program, slipping only slightly after her triple Salchow in her trademark combination of a one-foot Axel-triple Salchow. Trenary skated to a modern mix consisting of cuts from Sandstorm and Yanni’s Mermaid. In the end, she slid on both of her knees and clenched both of her palms with a look of a newly-minted World Champion.

Sometimes in sport, it’s not just a waiting game, but a numbers game. In the end, Trenary won the 1990 World Championships, with Ito as the silver medalist.

But as for the Chicago Blackhawks, I’m hoping there isn’t a flip-in-the-ordinals!

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