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Twenty Years Ago Today...

The reigning Ladies Olympic figure skating champion, East Germany's Katarina Witt, and American champion Debi Thomas staged a battle of the "dueling Carmens" at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Both ladies chose music from Bizet's opera Carmen, and the drama was heightened by some off-ice sniping prior to the competition. Witt was known as the flirt who relied on style as much as substance, while Stanford University pre-med student Thomas was pegged as the technician.

Witt solidified her legacy with a second gold medal by landing four triple jumps and embodying Carmen, while Thomas, who had the lead heading into the long program, faltered under pressure and missed three of five planned triples. Witt became only the second woman to repeat as the ladies Olympic figure skating champion (Sonja Henie was the other).

While much was made of the Witt/Thomas showdown, the best story of the night may very well have been Canada's own Elizabeth Manley winning the long program, and vaulting past Thomas for the silver medal in front of the home crowd. She gave the crowd something to cheer for after less than perfect performances from the Carmens. Here's an old CBC audio interview where Manley talks about her long program win.

And here's the winning free program (poor quality video):