Fassi, perhaps forgetting that ABC-TV had attached a live microphone to his body, paced unhappily at the side of the rink, spluttering, "Do de loop?," and, "Were is de flip?" His English, usually smooth, worsened in direct proportion to his mounting frustration. He gradually became incomprehensible, while Hamill, finishing her program without loop or flip, skated off. A competitor is not penalized for moves not attempted, and the judges overlooked the unexciting performance, awarding Hamill 5.8s and 5.9s out of possible perfect 6.0s. A scattered chorus of boos challenged this generosity, but the crowd was soon to get its money's worth.
Out darted Fratianne, coursing the rink like a dervish, leaping into a triple salchow and driving that move home with a triple toe loop followed by a double axel and two double toe loops. Her exuberance was contagious, her skill undeniable. Before she had finished, the crowd was on its feet, shouting for justice. The judges, perhaps sensing mutiny, rewarded Fratianne an average of 5.8 for technical merit and 5.7 for artistic impression. Would it be sufficient—not for the championship, of course—but to make the team? Malmberg, unlucky enough to follow that act, was shaky enough as well to ensure that it was. The crowd grew more restive. Burge came on with two high, strong double axels, but miscalculated a double flip. (Burge, like Hamill, has not been able to master triples.) Silently, the crowd waited as judges added up ordinals and points, then announced the results. Still national champion and now leader of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team: Dorothy Hamill (surprise); second place, Linda Fratianne, who had sneaked ahead of Wendy Burge by a narrow margin.
When it was all over, the three-girl U.S. Olympic team stood under bright lights, fielding questions. What had Hamill thought of her program, a reporter asked. "I found the ice slow," said Dorothy. "Oh," piped up Fratianne, rolling big blue eyes, "I didn't notice." And, naturally, nobody mentioned the two missing American girls, both of whom are absolute demons for high-jumping triples. Nor did they mention that Hamill, queen of all she surveys in this country, has her work cut out for her in Innsbruck.