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1988: Skater Elizabeth Manley wins Olympic silver medal

The Story

In front of a hometown crowd, Elizabeth Manley, the perky figure skater, delivers the performance of her lifetime. On Feb. 27, 1988, the five-foot dynamo delivers a spectacular skate that secures the silver medal at the Calgary Winter Olympics. Later, the Ottawa native tells CBC's Valerie Pringle that the media frenzy over the duel between Olympic champion Katarina Witt of East Germany and American champion Debi Thomas meant Manley could focus on her skating - and score silver.

Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: Feb. 29, 1988
Guest(s): Elizabeth Manley
Host: Valerie Pringle
Duration: 5:03

Did You know?

• The media dubbed the women's figure skating event as the "Duelling Carmens" because both Katarina Witt and Debi Thomas had chosen Bizet's Carmen for the long program. Costly mistakes by Debi Thomas in her long program meant that Elizabeth Manley, with her flawless performance, was able to skate past the American champion to second place behind Katarina Witt.

• Katarina Witt actually lost the long program to Manley but earned the gold medal based on her performances in the compulsory figures and the short program.

• Despite being sick with a cold prior to the competition, Manley managed five triple jumps in her long program. She became the first Canadian woman to win a medal in figure skating since 1972 when Karen Magnussen skated to silver.
• Manley was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1988.

• At the 1988 world championships in Budapest, the three women mirrored their finish in Calgary. Katarina Witt won gold, Elizabeth Manley the silver and Debi Thomas once again ended up with the bronze.

• In 1988, Manley ended her amateur figure skating career and went on to enjoy a successful professional career. In 2001, she moved to Florida and began her coaching career.


The Calgary Olympics: The Winter of '88 more