Ladies singles hardest discipline to pick a greatest ever

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by judgejudy27, Jul 28, 2010.

  1. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    When people talk about the greatest ever in the various figure skating disciplines it seems easier to pick someone in pairs, dance, and mens. Even if there isnt one dominant consensus pick there seems to be 2 or 3 which everyone picks one of them as their choice. However it seems with the ladies there is much more disagreement and it is harder to find a greatest ever. When you look at each they all have something that make it hard to crown them as the greatest ever:

    Henjie- pre historic skater who competed when competitive times and technical demands of ladies skating were nothing like now. Also when politics was at an all time high.

    Witt- she has the best modern day record but nobody really believes she was the best actual "skater" that ever existed. Many dont even believe she was the best skater of her own time, just the best competitor and most dominant.

    Lynn- some have called her the greatest ever since she was such an amazing skater despite a competitive record which is highlighted only by an Olympic bronze and World silver due to her struggles with figures and sometimes competitive nerve.

    Ito- some have also called her the greatest ever despite a competitive record also less than historic due to figures, politics in the days of figures, and bad luck in big events.

    Kwan- some have called her the greatest ever but her lack of the biggest prize in skating- the Olympic Gold, is a problem.

    Yamaguchi- was a dominant skater for a long time, but most of that in the pros, only 2 years as an amateur. Could have compiled a record that would make a stronger case as the greatest ever had she stayed in longer. Her skating doesnt really inspire in the way Kwan and others did which would inspire many to call her the greatest ever either.

    Yu Na Kim- not around long enough yet, nor enough titles.

    Asada- same as Kim.

    Slutskaya- despite a long and brilliant career with no Olympic gold and only 2 World titles is the clear 2nd fiddle to Kwan of her own generation. Her greatest strength was jumping yet she isnt even considered close the greatest jumper of all time, probably the greatest jumper of her own generation which had almost no great jumpers.


    So I think of all the 4 skating disciplines the womens is the hardest one to pick a greatest ever in.
  2. miki88

    miki88 New Member

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    I don't think it's that hard. In terms of influence so far, I think it's done to Janet Lynn and Michelle Kwan. They have inspired the most skaters of a later generation to emulate their style. Midori was always known as the greatest jumper but less so for her overall skating.
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  3. ciocio

    ciocio New Member

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    Which criteria should we consider when we pick a "greatest ever"? In my opinion the greatest ever doesn´t exist. We have the most longevive, the skater with the most titles, but "greatest ever"?
  4. museksk8r

    museksk8r Well-Known Member

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    Like miki88, I think most look to Ito as the standard for athleticism and to Lynn/Kwan as the standard for artistry.
  5. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Ito is certainly hands down the standard for athleticsm. I wonder how many years it will be after her until someone surpasses her 86-95 (counting her pro years) in jumping. And that certainly isnt really surpassing her as someone 50 years later in theory should be far ahead, but it will probably be atleast that long before someone merely reaches the same level.

    One has to wonder too if she would have started dominating skating competitively in 1986 had figures not existed. The whole mentality of how they judges free skating would have been different without figures.
  6. miki88

    miki88 New Member

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    Midori has a special place in ladies figure skating. She seemed to defy everything that defined what ladies skater should be like. (Bonaly also defied that image but she didn't have the skating skills to back her up.) I think Midori could probably beat some of the male skaters competing today. :p
  7. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Midori would have won both the 1989 and 1990 mens World titles if there was only a final free skate (long program).
  8. The Accordion

    The Accordion Well-Known Member

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    I love love love Midori Ito and not just for her jumping.

    But it is not fair to compare her accomplishments as a jumper to skaters under COP. Who knows who would have surpassed her as a jumper in the COP era when they must spend so much more time on all the other aspects of skating to be competitive?
  9. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    Lasting influence would have to be considered in naming the 'greatest ever'

    Probably Sonia Henie is still the greatest ever - 3 olympic gold medals is unprecedented in singles competition. She was considered quite an athlete at the time. I also believe she also revolutionized skating apparel by wearing dresses at [or above?] the knees

    Peggy Fleming - I think [for better or worse] she ushered in the era of the ultra-feminine pretty princess which we still see as a judges'/TPTB favorite today, and she could still do most of the hard technical moves and mastered the figures to boot.

    Janet Lynn - Did not win a major international title but I think her style of free skating is what brought about the SP/lessened the importance of figures, to give skaters like her more clout and greater chances for wins in World/Olympic competitions. We still see this effect today.

    Midori Ito - Of course, she landed the 1st 3x and her style brought about the idea that the technical mattered, too.

    I think it's still too early to install Yu Na or Mao in the Halls of Legend - I think Mao may be remembered for fusing great jumps like the 3x -and- pretty ballerina style. Yu Na is technically amazing but what would make her a lasting legend?
  10. attyfan

    attyfan Well-Known Member

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    Greatest ever, IMO, was Madge Sayer ... without her, no ladies event at all.
  11. Spinner

    Spinner Where's my book?

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    I love crazy "what-if" stats like this. ;) Like OGM for Orser in 84 sans-figures, 90 US Champ Wylie sans-figures...
  12. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    In other words as things stand now despite that Yu Na has the slightly better competitive record and is generally viewed as the more dominant skater competitively speaking Mao's skating would leave more impact on history than Yu Na's. It is an interesting viewpoint, and I see where you are coming from too.
  13. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    Dorothy Hamill might not have the collection of 1st place medals that some of the others have but when I watch the way she moves across the ice today I would definitely classify her among some of the best skaters ever.
  14. miki88

    miki88 New Member

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    It's too soon to tell as of now since their careers aren't over yet. I think it really depends on how much their respective styles influence later generation of skaters. I think it's great that these two have very different styles in their skating, although it's probably one of the several factors that create such a division among the fans.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  15. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    A skater like Cohen never managed to win a World title and unlike Lynn doesnt really have a valid excuse of any sort for not doing so. She wasnt even either an exceptional athlete/jumper nor a great basic skater. Yet her flexability moves, spins, spirals, in many ways influenced the next generation of skaters. Many skaters today copy moves that she incorporated. So does that mean she made her mark in history? I am not saying one way or another, just that things like that make an interesting perspective.
  16. michiruwater

    michiruwater Well-Known Member

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    Of course she made her mark in history. She gets brought up in every single one of these threads, people are still copying her moves, and the very fact that her fan base is so huge, she was so well-known, and she's still controversial despite never winning any major championships save the GPF once says a lot about her ability to inspire, influence, and piss people off.
  17. miki88

    miki88 New Member

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    I think Sasha is an influential skater. I just don't see her on a greatest ever list. All skaters who have made a name for themselves will inevitably have an influence on skaters of a later generation. The question is who has more or the most? (If you're looking to name the greatest). As it stands right now, Michelle Kwan is the most well-known skater of the modern era. She has left an influence on countless younger skaters who have named her as their idol, including the current Olympic Champion. Michelle's influence is inevitably tied to Lynn's since that was her idol. I think another factor that can determine legacy is to see which skaters will be dominating the scene in the future. If these future dominant skaters cite Yuna as more of an influence than Mao or vice versa, then her legacy will shine brighter. It's case of how the future controls the past. :)
  18. floskate

    floskate Vacant

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    Agreed but I would extend that time period back a few years to 1981-82 when she landed the worlds first 3-3 combo by a lady, aged 12. She also had all 5 triples bar the axel at this time. Her 6 triple 1984 Skate Canada LP including all 5 triples was by far the greatest technical skate by a lady at that time.
  19. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    It is amazing, it sounds like she could have already competed with Zayak, Witt, and Biellmann jumps wise when she was only 11 and 12 years old.
  20. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    Yes. Don't get me wrong. Yu Na is top-notch and deserved her wins. She is technically brilliant. But stuff of legends is usually something that will stand out decades to come. Off the top of my head, people may be discussing 'that ballerina like lady who still did a 3x in the SP and 2 3x's in the LP in Vancouver' more so than 'that gal from Korea who did everything perfectly, but I can't recall what exactly she did. She just won.'
  21. floskate

    floskate Vacant

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    If Ito had skated at 1981 Worlds by which time she most definitely had triple flip, loop, sal and toe - well she could have skated the hardest LP aged 11. When you put it into that kind of scenario you realise just how ahead of her time she really was.

    But for me, what makes Ito one of the greatest of all time is what else she brought to the sport; insanely difficult transitions when no one apart from Zayak was doing any transitions into triples, some very good spins particularly her scratch and combo spin, ultra difficult step sequences and lots of linking moves between elements but also her own brand of artistry which was the ability to electrify audiences as and when she chose with charisma to burn. To talk about Ito in terms of just jumps is totally missing the point of her skating IMO. What's so sad is that so much was denegrated about her skating for whatever purpose it may have suited those people who did so.....well even she started to believe that all she was good for was jumping. :(
  22. miki88

    miki88 New Member

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    Really? I feel the exact opposite regarding Vancouver. All the media talk about is Mao's triple axels while basically ignoring her other qualities. I hope it's the case that people in the future can remember the balletic and airy qualities of Mao's skating.
  23. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Probably since the politics and her troubles with the very valued compulsory figures made it impossible for her to be on top for a long time to come, and so TPTB had to come up with excuses (eg- supposably weak artisty, weak this or that) in order to keep television audiences and casual fans from going into an outrage.
  24. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure how old she was at the time but the 1980 NHK exhibition clip of Midori Ito showed as much technical content as Denise Biellmann had in the long program in the actual competition that year. I think Denise actually said she was happy she didn't have to compete against Ito that year!
  25. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

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    Unless you base it on a definied criteria such as most combined World and Olympic gold medals, then there's no such thing as picking a "greatest ever". The lack of a clear, objective set of criteria makes it a subjective argument. So why bother other than for the love of debate?

    The question is more about "icon" status rather than "greatest".
  26. BmcC102

    BmcC102 Active Member

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    Thank you. I totally agree with every word.
  27. blue_idealist

    blue_idealist Well-Known Member

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    Michelle Kwan immediately comes to mind when I hear greatest ever, although it is true that she does not have the Olympic Gold medal. I think that all her world titles, the way she skates and her career longevity pretty much make up for her lack of an Olympic gold though, at least in my mind. Slutskaya? No way.. she was a good skater, but definitely not the greatest ever. I don't know enough about Henie, just that she won a lot of titles, but the technical content was so easy then. Witt is just not as good a skater as Kwan if you compare the two side by side, even though Witt won the OGM twice.
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  28. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    I guess my point is when you talk about greatest ever you have:

    Pairs- most just instantly say Gordeeva & Grinkov. Some others will say Shen & Zhou now or the Protoppopovs. Maybe Miskutienok & Dmitriev have a few backers as greatest pair ever. That is it really.

    Dance- Nearly everyone says either Torvill & Dean or maybe Klimova & Ponomarenko.

    Men- Nearly everyone says Yagudin now it seems. Some would say Dick Button who was so far ahead of his time. That is it really.


    But for ladies there is alot of mixed discussion when the topic of greatest ever comes up.
    It is hard to give the unofficial title to any one skater for all the things I said about the key people to consider.
  29. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    One cant really compare the technical content of someone in her prime in the early and mid 80s to someone in her prime in the late 90s and early 2000s. That said I wholeheartedly agree that I find Kwan a much superior skater to Witt inspite of the OGMs. Many people at the time said Witt was never even the best skater of her own era, just the best competitor. People like Thomas and Kadavy to me overall look like much better skaters, yet Witt still found a way to rise up and beat ever their best at the 87 Worlds. Witt is probably the greatest competitor in womens skating history, and that is how she carved out her own place in skating history with less than the best technique or style in pretty much everything she did.
  30. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

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    Cecelia Colledge always comes to mind . . . the first lady to do a double jump, first to perform the "Colledge" that is a one-footed Axel by either a man or woman, inventor of the layback spin, inventor of the camel spin including the flying camel that involves a change of foot, inventor of the one handed {{choke}} "Beillmann" Spin . . . There is so much that she invented in the CoP but not a single thing officially named after her. If anything, the camel spin should be named after her as the Colledge is an Axel, the layback spin in a upright spin, but camel spin is basic class of spin in and of itself that is performed by both men and women.

    ETA: I will also point out that k9henrydog on Youtube claims that she was the first to introduce the modern Spiral to freeskating, that is a Spiral TRACING IN THE ICE made in a position above the ice where the free leg is higher than the hip . . . even if there is a version of the CoP out there where so called "technical experts" tried to define a "regular spiral" as something exclusively related to the position above the ice :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  31. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Wow all that and she still always lost to Henjie? That is just one of many an example of why I have a hard time taking Henjie's record totally seriously. I have read things like her rich father bought all her golds or even threatened judges with physical harm or injury if they didnt vote for her.
  32. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    Yunah needs to stick around for awhile and win a few more titles to enter the leagues of 'greatest ever'. She's clearly had one of the greatest Olympic competitions of any lady ever, but she could quickly be forgotten if she doesn't remain on top of the field for a few years.

    Mao, however, isn't yet in contention for 'greatest ever' - she showed glimmers that she could be during her first and second senior season but since then has slid backwards a bit. Perhaps because of her focus on the 3A and unusual program choices, or perhaps because that is just her trajectory. . .

    But she has distinguished herself by being the first lady to land 2 3As in a program and given that she's my favourite, I certainly hope that the best is yet to come from her.
  33. ciocio

    ciocio New Member

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    What does "everyone" mean? It´s impossible to know the opinion of every single FS fan or expert.
  34. neptune

    neptune New Member

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    True, but I see Michelle Kwan in kind of the same way--one of the best competitors ever, but not necessarily one of the best skaters ever. Michelle did a lot of things well, but not that much spectacularly IMO. Of course, she didn't have a lot of competitors who could be called "best ever" either. But I would rate early Chen Lu, for instance, as a better skater overall, even if she wasn't quite as steely a competitor as Michelle.
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  35. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps. Chen was no longer consistent by the time she and Michelle became serious rivals, she faltered badly in every event in the 95-96 season minus Worlds. When she was regularly getting bronze medals behind Baiul she had been a machine, so consistent but not getting rewarded by the judges, but much less so when she became a threat to win.

    Skaters like Slutskaya and Cohen in their primes years (Irina 2000 onwards, Sasha 2003 onwards) at their best most times probably would have beaten Kwan but they rarely produced their best when it mattered as Michelle did countless times. Irina at her best had the edge technically as far as jumps, spins, speed and power, maybe footwork. Sasha at her best had a big edge on spins, and was capable of matching or even surpassing Kwan on spirals and in artistry, especialy as Kwan's injuries forced her to water down choreography and elements after 2001 by the time Sasha was emerging. Irina rarely skated clean in a major competition though, Sasha never did, and Kwan really knew how to bring it and did so time and time again like a true champion. Maria Butyrskaya was never remotedly consistent in addition to not really matching up well with Kwan skating wise anyway. Hughes was actually quite consistent but had too many technique and stylistic flaws to beat a clean Kwan. Michelle dominated through a combination of great competitive strength, consistency, and great overall skating. During the only brief period she ran into someone who could outjump her (content wise anyway) and who was just as mentally strong she often lost- that being Tara Lipinski of course. Still I do believe Kwan is a much better skater than Witt, in addition to being nearly as strong a competitor in a time with more triples and risk in ladies skating than Witt's era.

    I think Yamaguchi is the same way too. She dominated by being extremely consistent, showing very good overall skating but nothing spectacular, and not missing hardly a thing under pressure. Ito and Harding at their best were probably better skaters than her but had higher risk moves, and in Harding's case a very sparatic career. I definitely prefer Kwan as a skater to Kristi as well though, she just has more IT factor and her best performances are more magical than Kristi's best were. She also has bigger jumps than Kristi's little triples.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  36. Bostonfan

    Bostonfan Well-Known Member

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    But ask yourself why those people are considered the greatest. Because they made an impact in THEIR time. For example Dick Button was impressive for his time. Granted I've only ever seen about 30 seconds of archival footage. But I'm aware of his "firsts" in jumping and his many skating wins. Is he the greatest EVER? Well, how could he when it's not realistic to compare the technical element of the generations. What makes someone great in one cycle would make them non-descript if they skated against a different field iof competitors in a different generation.

    Are there some elements to greatness that transcend time? That are comparable against multiple generations? Are some skaters greatness due to luck? They achieved their particular brand of greatness at a time when their competitors were weaker than if they skated against tougher competitors? There's so many factors and opinions when it comes to defining greatness. It does make for an interesting debate.

    Your point is that the ladies discipline seems to spark MORE debate on the topic than the other disciplines. Maybe. But I disagree with the short list for the other disciplines. I could make a case for adding Scott Hamilton to the list, Brian Boitano, and most certainly Kurt Browning, etc. Shen and Zhao are serious contenders for pairs too. I don't really follow dance (I know, I know - that's blasphemy on FSU!), but I'd bet if you ask more people they'd come up with more than just the two teams. I don't think it's a wide a gap between the disciplines as you might think.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2010
  37. miki88

    miki88 New Member

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    I don't think either of them will be quickly forgotten even if they don't stay around for that long. They are definitely two of the greatest skaters I've ever seen.
  38. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    I was actually thinking about Witt. After Henie, she is the most decorated lady at the Olympics but like you, I don't see anything about her technically that is 'legendary'. However, her competitive fire/spirit is what makes her memorable to all (but that's it)
  39. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    I was talking about what people may remember about them 2 - 3 decades from now. Then again, Yu Na is like the most popular woman in Korea so that might count as 'legendary' in other countries.
  40. miki88

    miki88 New Member

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    Oh I see. I think Yuna will be remembered for her Olympic performances and as the trailblazer for Korean skating. Although I think the latter will depend on how much Korean skating develop after her. Midori Ito inspired a whole later generation of Japanese skaters. Chen Lu, another trailblazer, didn't seem to have the same effect. I think Mao will be remembered as the one who spearheaded the renaissance of Japanese skating. Although there have been many great Japanese skaters prior to her arrival, she's really the one that has got the most attention since Midori.