Scott Hamilton flopped on his belly like a beached bluefish, then rolled onto his back and kicked his feet into the air.
As breakdancing goes, Hamilton's interlude last night at the World Professional Figure Skating Championship at Capital Centre was hardly prize-winning. But for the capacity crowd of 17,950 who had spent the previous hour watching some of the world's best figure skaters trying gracefully to avoid the exact position Hamilton had assumed, it was worth a standing ovation.
Hamilton's innovation, sandwiched as it was within a typically masterful exhibition of figure skating, rock and roll style, apparently did not hurt his point total. Hamilton received perfect 10s from all but one of the seven judges to win the individual male title over Canada's Toller Cranston.
In the ice dancing pairs competition, the British team of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean proved as luminous last night as they had been winning the gold medal at Sarajevo nine months ago. In two separate numbers, the pair earned 14 scores of 10 from the seven judges.
Dorothy Hamill, the U.S. gold medal winner in the 1976 Olympics, easily outpointed Elaine Zayak to win the women's singles event. Rosalynn Sumners, the silver medalist at last winter's Olympics, was judged fourth, behind Linda Fratianne.
The only close competition occurred in the pairs event. After a slip to the ice during their first number, Oleg and Ludmilla Protopopov, a husband and wife team who defected from the Soviet Union in 1979, earned seven scores of 10 in their final performance. But that was not quite enough to overtake the Canadian pairs team of Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini.
There were 24 professionals competing last night in this installment of the made-for-television special conjured up five years ago by Dick Button, a former Olympic medalist in the sport and now a television commentator. Using national television exposure and $200,000 in prize money as incentives, Button lured some of the biggest names in the sport to Landover.
Hamilton, Sumners, Kitty and Peter Carruthers and Torvill and Dean were some of the better-known participants on a team made up of those who competed in the 1984 Winter Olympics. Arrayed against them was a team of veterans including Hamill, Fratianne and Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner. The '84 squad won, 579.5-574.6.
But the audience didn't seem to care which team the skaters competed for. Most, like 10-year-old Bob Grant of Clinton, had come to see their favorites. "Dorothy Hamill is the one I like most," said Grant, sitting with his father, Charles, who refused to play favorites. "I love all the women."
Hamill and Hamilton received the most applause during the introductions. But it was the Britishers, the '84 gold medalists Torvill and Dean, who won the biggest ovation for performance.
Wearing orange taffeta outfits out of the Arabian Nights, the pair proved it has not lost its edge since Sarajevo. Skating to "Song of India," the two performed a hypnotic routine that seemed to have Torvill sliding up or down her partner without apparent effort at least half the time. They received a perfect score from each of the seven judges.
This crowd had not come to see its heroes judged harshly. Every score below 9.8 was booed. And for the most part the judges did not disappoint the customers. Despite two obvious slips on the ice, the Carruthers brother and sister team received scores of 9.8 or 9.9 from all but two judges.