The Battle of the Brians was an informal name given to the Figure skating rivalry between Canadian Brian Orser and American Brian Boitano at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. It is considered one of the most memorable competitions in figure skating history.
Brian Orser won the silver medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics. Brian Boitano placed fifth. Orser placed second at the 1985 World Figure Skating Championships, with Boitano one step below him. Boitano won the next year. When Orser won the 1987 Worlds, held in Cincinnati, Boitano knew he would have to make a change in his skating if he were to beat Orser at the 1988 Winter Olympics on Orser's home turf. He turned to choreographer Sandra Bezic, who helped effect a major change in his skating style. Orser and Boitano were well-matched in many ways. Both were excellent skaters who had a jump as their signature move; Orser was well-known for his triple axel and Boitano had invented the 'Tano triple lutz, a triple lutz with one arm raised above the head. Going into the Olympics, both were their country's nationals champions and favorites for the gold.
There were three phases of competition: the Compulsory figures, the Short program, and the Long program. Boitano was ahead after the compulsory figures, but Orser won the short program. At that time, figures counted for 30% of the score and the short program counted for 20%. The difference between Orser and Boitano was so small that the skater who won the long program would win the title. Adding to the excitement, both Boitano and Orser both had military-themed long programs.
Boitano was the first to skate. His program was technically perfect with no mistakes. His program, set to the music of "Napoleon", showed five stages in a soldier's life. Boitano landed eight triple jumps, two of them triple axel. Another signature move, a prolonged Spread eagle (figure skating), lasted ten seconds. Boitano's scores were:
Orser skated after him. His program was to "Dance of the Carter" and "Dance of Kozelkov and His Friends" from the ballet The Bolt by Dmitri Shostakovich. He had originally planned to do two triple axels, but decided at the last minute to do only one of them. He also stepped out of a triple flip towards the beginning. He landed seven triple jumps. Orser's scores were:
In a 5-4 split, the judges awarded Boitano the gold, and Orser his second Olympic silver medal.
- Brian Orser: Canadian Excellence
- 1988 Olympic Winter Games, Calgary (Canada) Results
- The Brians remember The Battle
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