Scott Hamilton Won Gold in 1984 by Skating in a Blue Bodysuit to Laser Sound Effects

A Blog About the Olympic Games
Feb. 13 2014 4:38 PM

Scott Hamilton Won Gold in 1984 by Skating in a Blue Bodysuit to Laser Sound Effects

Scott Hamilton
Scott Hamilton performs in Sarajevo.

Photo by STAFF/AFP/Getty Images

Slate’s Five-Ring Circus blog, the worldwide leader in Scott Hamilton news, analysis, and video mashups, is proud to bring you Hamilton’s gold-medal-winning long program from the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo. Warning: There are laser sounds.

Here’s Sports Illustrated’s Bob Ottum describing Hamilton’s routine in February 1984:

Hamilton's freestyle program starts with the crackling sounds of a laser battle; one can almost see the pencil-thin beams of intense blue light flashing across the ice. He stands like a George Segal statue through the first few blasts, all pulled up to his full height, looking off into intermediate space. Then, suddenly, both he and the music swing into The Routine. The first section lasts exactly one minute, 35 seconds; no other figure skater so completely integrates action and mood and music. Much of Hamilton's new program is based on modern jazz. The opening section is performed to the overture to George Duke's Guardian of the Light, and then there's a slide into something Oriental and eerily haunting—Hiroshima's Third Generation. Much of this music is played on synthesizers, and the blend is so silky that one is pulled along by the sound. "It wills the crowd," Hamilton says.

Additional notes on Hamilton’s 1984 routine:

  • George Duke, a famed jazz keyboardist who worked with Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, and Barry Manilow among others, passed away last year. Legend has it that if you listen to his “Overture / Light / Shane” and then twirl around 12 times, you will turn into Scott Hamilton.
  • Hamilton’s coach Donald Laws had this to say to the New York Times about the skater’s tight-fitting red-and-blue skin suit: “If you wear it, you have to have the body for it. Scott does.”
  • As Hamilton sits and waits for his scores, a butler comes by with a tray of drinks. The Olympics needs more butlers.
  • Though he finished second in the long program to Canadian Brian Orser, Hamilton won gold anyway. The American’s Olympic routine was clearly not his best, but in a post-skate interview, commentator Dick Button refuses to let Hamilton say that he screwed up. “You didn’t make a mistake, you just didn’t do one or two things, that’s all,” Button explained.
  • Judges from nine different countries scored Hamilton’s performance. Five of those nations—Yugoslavia, West Germany, East Germany, the Soviet Union, and Czechoslovakia—no longer exist.

Previously in Slate's coverage of Scott Hamilton:
Here's What It Would Sound Like If Scott Hamilton Called Every Sport

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.



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