Was it Michelle or Lori

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by arakwafan2006, May 19, 2011.

  1. arakwafan2006

    arakwafan2006 Active Member

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    Was it Michelle or Lori?

    Below is a link to Michelle Kwans Dream of Desdimona. What is extremely clear to me is that that girl could interpret ANYTHING! Lori Nichol was terrific though at the organizing of the programs. Where has this went? Some would blame the new judging system but I guess I wonder if Michelle was as great as she was or if Lori Nichol and other choreographers have just used up all of their ideas. I know that Lori does choreography for other skaters but they just don’t look as complex and involved as this. I mean, even just the first 10 seconds of DOD has more stuff going on than some skaters for an entire program. So many skaters now have snippets of involved movement but the majority, bar Yu Na, sometimes Mao and Rochette, have programs full of stroking and jumps. There does not even seem to be an attempt to create a mood. Perhaps its that Michelle made it look so easy that I am taking for granted its complexity but I just wish more skaters, especially women would lend themselves to an all encompassing style.

    Chime in guys.
  2. Jammers

    Jammers Well-Known Member

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    Part of the problem is COP. The skaters don't have the freedom like they used too and it's all about getting points now. So the programs all look the same. Plus no one could could create a mood on the ice like Michelle. I'm not even her biggest fan but she had something these girls just don't have and it can't really be taught.
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  3. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

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    I think, to a large degree, Lori had muses. I would say that Jamie Sale/David Pelletier were most definitely muses, and Michelle was most definitely another, I would say Lori's first and probably most inspiring muse.

    It has been said of Michelle by, not just Lori, but other choreographers, that Michelle "gets" the choreography immediately. She obviously has a great sense of movement and interpretation herself.

    I also feel Michelle does make intricacy look easy and that has been her magic. Rather than looking like she's connecting the dots, Michelle just looks like she's skating organically. She has great edges, very great, which I think lends to this easy-looking style as well.

    Lori presented Michelle with interesting music choices, but also looked to Michelle to see what inspired her. They did a lot of collaboration in the early years. I know a poster in the past had linked an article about the "making" of one of Michelle's programs. I think that article gives a lot of insight into the Lori -w- Michelle process.

    I do think any choreographer - just like any artist - has dry spells and could use some fresh inspiration. Maybe Lori just hasn't found another skater who inspires her in the same ways that Michelle and Jamie/David did.

    Finally, I don't believe COP makes it easy to create seamless programs because the primary purpose of choreography is to gain points through whatever moves or jumps can be fit in, not to present a fabulous program.

    O-
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  4. miki88

    miki88 New Member

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    The answer is Both. Fortunately for skating fans, one of the greatest skaters and one of the greatest choreographers of all time worked together while they were at their peaks. Michelle treated all of her programs, including exhibitions, seriously and she instinctly knew what worked for her. This is a rare and valuable asset because few skaters actually possess this awareness.
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  5. arakwafan2006

    arakwafan2006 Active Member

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    You know, I think that I diminished the importance of the COP in the… in-organic look of skating. Its true. So sad but true. I still have to say that even though I prefer Mao to Yu Na, that girl is complete. Her programs feel like a minute at most. You can see the inspiration of Michelle in her work though she is far from a copy cat.
    The concept of a muse is really intriguing. I think that Oliviapug is right. Lori had the dream skaters to work with. The fact of the matter is that Michelle other than the triple-triple dept endeavored to be the best. That fire she had was incredible. I still say though that more intricacies and full body movement can be added. Maybe its that Lori Lori has a tough time working with skaters who are not already great skaters? Who knows. I just think that more can be done and I hope to see it soon.
  6. arakwafan2006

    arakwafan2006 Active Member

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    Was this taught or gifted to Michelle?
  7. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    Michelle was lucky to have Lori because Lori did bring the best out in her.

    Unfortunately once that partnership broke up, even though the skating was good, Michelle had a habit of just skating through the music and doing very little to the music. There was no attention to detail which was disappointing for a skater of that calibre.
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  8. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Lori, and every other choreographer who ever worked with her, was fortunate to have such a gifted "interpreter" in Michelle. Whether it was a "learned" skill; or inborn, very few performers have the ability to combine music and movement so completely that it creates an immediate emotional response for the viewer.

    IMO, it goes beyond technical mastery, to a level where the choreography and music are internalized by the performer to such a degree that they flow out; "playing through them", as it were. Very few artists in any field have the requisite skill - and/or the trust - which allows this to happen,

    When it does, you create "magic" in performance; and an experience for the fortunate audience that we can remember - and re-live - for a lifetime.

    I have been blessed that Michelle (and a few others) have made that possible for me.
  9. sk9tingfan

    sk9tingfan Well-Known Member

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    I think that Michelle's seminal moment was when Lori told her to "ooze like toothpaste" during the year of her first National and World Championship. She got it then and continued to "get it". Her ability to emote is almost unparalelled.
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  10. skfan

    skfan New Member

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    why does it have to be either or? they did it together. sometimes they did it better--sometimes their collaboration left something to be desired. sometime back around 99-00 the MK fans i was talking with felt lori had gotten bored with michelle and preferred to create for S&P---i remember one of my buddies said of lori, you dance with the once who brung you, expressing disappointment with the programs lori was giving michelle.

    well, like any artist, you can get into a slump, you can find you can write chapters for one novel, but not another. i must say i disagree with aussie willy's rather dismissive view, as if michelle didn't contribute just as much to the successes, as if lori was always achieving the same level of genius and if there was fall off it must be michelle's slacking. i am an mk fan, sure, but i am not a blind worshipper--i am merely saying the quality of lori's AND michelle's contributions both waxed and waned during their long collaboration.

    i am thankful that i got to see the best years of that collaboration. in another thread here on FSU someone said that when lori and michelle unveiled a program, it was like opening night--particularly because they often used unfamiliar music, and because MK so often performed it well on the first presentation--she didn't wait to 'peak' at worlds.

    anyway, i've rambled enough, and since i'm a fan of S&P as well i didn't weep to see lori's inspiration and attention drifting elsewhere as much as some of my fellow MK fans did. good years, good memories all :)
  11. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

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    Michelle created magic with Lori and without Lori (e.g., Fields of Gold, Miraculous Mandarin, Hands, Winter (which Michelle choreographed herself), among others.) She was insanely talented and had a great head for competition before Lori choreographed for her.

    And as for stripping down choreography, it wasn't that Lori couldn't choreograph it or Michelle couldn't perform it -- we know they were both capable -- it was that Michelle wasn't being rewarded for intricate choreography once Irina Slutskaya hit her stride. Speed and jumps were being rewarded, areas in which Irina exceled. Michelle was just trying to adjust to the change in climate. And she did a pretty good job of it by winning 2000, 2001 and 2003 Worlds despite Irina's strong presence at 2000 and 2001 Worlds.

    0-
  12. Macassar88

    Macassar88 Well-Known Member

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    I remember that when Lori was being interviewed about Michelle Kwan (don't remember when) she said that a lot of the Salome program was Michelle. Lori had Michelle improvise her dance to Salome and took a lot of that into the program.
  13. Marco

    Marco Missing Ziggy

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    It was both Michelle and Lori.

    However, starting at 2000, Michelle's jumps didn't come as easily and she had to let go of a lot of Lori's choreography to ensure consistency to battle Slutskaya (Red Violin at Skate America and Red Violin at Worlds were very different).

    She experimented with others during 2000 & 2001 (maybe also because Lori was pregnant / just gave birth?): Philip Mills, Chris Dean and Peter O. and probably had an eye opening experience with the creativity out there.

    Sensing this, Lori started to put less emphasis on Michelle and more on S&P, which IMO further cemented their split.

    Still, going to Sarah K for Schez and esp. for Fields of Gold is a great change.

    Too bad that after the split, neither have been able to keep up with their best.
  14. giselle23

    giselle23 Active Member

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    It's clear to me that Lori needed Michelle more than Michelle needed Lori. Michelle continued to have legendary performances after she left Lori--Aranjuez, The Feeling Begins, Spartacus at 2005 Nationals (Morovoz), Tosca at 2004 Nationals, Fields of Gold.
    The choreography may not have been as intricate, but her skating in many of these programs was more free and more passionate than before. I also disagree that Michelle's technical skills fell off significantly. Her jumps actually got higher and stronger in some instances--look at her flip in Spartacus at Nationals, for example. For that matter, look at her double axel in her Carmina Burana program at Yu Na's show in 2009.
  15. query5

    query5 New Member

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    to me they both brought out the best in each other,
  16. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

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    I'm surprised and glad to see so many threads about Michelle and her talents years after her competitive career. I love her skating so much :)
  17. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

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    Michelle or Lori?

    I could have sworn they worked together.
  18. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    This thread is obviously an offshoot of BigB0882's "DoD and MK's use of Music" thread, so I guess that thread might as well be referred to for the DoD link and discussion, since there isn't a DoD link in here. :p

    ITA with the comments of OliviaPug :respec: and also skatesindreams and skfan. (I too recall the feature you seem to be referring to Macassar88, as noted below).

    Regarding MK and Lori, I believe that Lori has said from the beginning that she collaborates with skaters on their programs, using movements and inspiration that come from the skaters. Therefore, perhaps Lori's aesthetic is only as good or as fresh as the inspiration or lack thereof she finds or is able to pull out of her skaters/ clients.

    There was a "fluff" intro feature with Lori discussing her work with Michelle I believe at 1996 Nationals or Worlds just prior to MK skating Salome, but I can't find it on youtube.

    Figure skating is not the same and never will be as when Michelle skated. Over the course of her career, a number of things changed, a lot as a result of her consistency and magic, and sadly a lot of unfortunate changes (that still require fixing) as a result of the rushed enforcement of CoP.

    skatesindreams :respec: Your description of what is happening re the magic that Michelle and other uniquely gifted artists create on the ice is so eloquent. Thank you!
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  19. FunnyBut

    FunnyBut Well-Known Member

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    Neither. It was Frank! :lol:
  20. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    Ha ha, yes. They were a threesome, however, Frank's main contribution to the programs (aside from input on costumes, music selection, and inimitable coaching) was most likely jump placement.

    One of the fallacies that tended to be pushed by the media was that MK achieved success solely because of Lori and Frank. Actually, they were a team, with all that entails. They came together fortuitously and magic happened. However, Michelle would probably be the first to point out that her family gave her the wings to fly.

    Interestingly, MK's full name: Michelle Wingshan Kwan; in Chinese: Guan Yingshan. Also, as I mentioned in another thread awhile ago, I think Michelle's sister, Karen, has been one of her secret weapons. :)
  21. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    Should this be in the DOD thread or was it meant to be a totally different discussion?
  22. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Yes, seems very much the same topic, ITA.
  23. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

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    ^ I disagree that this thread should be merged with the DOD thread because every thread is really about Michelle Kwan, yet we do not merge every thread into one big Michelle Kwan Figure Skating Universe thread :p
  24. senorita

    senorita New Member

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  25. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    :lol: Guess you're right, since there's already the Michelle Kwan Forum for the one big Michelle universe, which predates FSU. :)

    Yep, if every thread isn't exactly about MK, she's often a reference point/ topic of discussion.
  26. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    When last I heard Ms. Kwan and her skating were an important part of the history of the sport.
    Why can't she/her work be discussed and appreciated on this board?

    No one forces you, or anyone, to post/participate if you disagree.
  27. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't trying to start a fight! I was asking because I genuinely thought the OP meant to post as a reply. They even mentioned the DoD video. If they wanted to start their own thread then more power to them.
  28. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    It's amazing how much I disagree with the above comment. Yes, Kwan's post-2002 work was far from her personal best, but I do think there was a lot of attention to detail in The Feeling Begins and Spartacus SPs. Also, one could argue Peter Oppegard's LP, The Miraculous Mandarin, was more intricate and musical than Lori's Song of the Black Swan (which is my personal favorite Kwan LP performance at Worlds).

    Aussie Willy, watch this and tell me Kwan isn't doing anything much with the music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EoeO239UX4
    In fact, I think it's probably Kwan's best SP since Dream of Desdemona in 1997 or Rachmaninoff in 1998.

    Also, some of my favorite exhibitions from Kwan have come from other choreographers, most notably Sarah Kawahara and Phillip Mills. In fact, I think those two understood Kwan's natural style of skating more than Lori did to be honest.

    This reminds me of a conversation I had on goldenskate many years ago with a poster who had a background in ballet/dance (at least I remembered she did). She never liked Kwan's skating because she felt she was always so tight in the upperbody and didn't think Lori Nichol allowed Kwan to move freely. It was not until the 2002-2003 season where she actually started to appreciate Kwan's skating and actually became a fan despite the choreography being less intricate or complicated because she finally saw Kwan as the skater she wanted to be and not what she was packaged as. She also said that Kwan's Spartacus SP was the best SP she ever saw from a lady skater when Kwan debuted it at Nationals.

    I didn't entirely agree with her point, but I do see where it came from. Kwan's skating became simpler in order to have speed and power (and fighting off an injured body that wasn't allowing her to increase her tech. difficulty), but her skating became more genuine.
    Last edited: May 22, 2011
  29. BigB08822

    BigB08822 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if I see all the attention to detail in her Spartacus SP. She performs it well but I feel like each element stands out on its own. I see the footwork, I see the spiral well timed to the music, the spins, etc. However, I don't see these elements all being connected together by moves accentuating the music and flowing freely from one to another.
  30. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    I disagree. I thought it flowed really well. The only it might be missing is bombardment of transitions, but Kwan certainly moved really well and I felt it was much more connected than say A Day in the Life, East of Eden SP version, and Fate of Carmen.
  31. Kwantumleap

    Kwantumleap New Member

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    That was more evident in the LPs than in the SPs. I have noticed there seems to be slightly more praise for Michelle's repertoire of SPs than her LPs. There are a lot of skaters that have similar issues with choreography when comparing their SPs to LPs. Michelle just came from such a high level of choreography that it stood out when she skated LPs with "the norm" in choreography later in her career. That she was able to sustain choreographic excellence over a span roughly 6 years in her competitive programs speaks volumes about her abilities even beyond her titles. What other singles skaters can we say that about? Who else is comparable in that department? I'm just happy there's a representation out their for ladies skaters to see consistency in many aspects, including choreography, even if it wasn't over the span of her entire career. I feel like that, given Michelle's physical ailments she developed later, a longer period of choreographic emphasis might have been expecting too much from her.
    Last edited: May 22, 2011
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  32. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    MK's Spartacus SP at Nationals was one of my favorite performances of hers. Dick Button said that she brought out about as much emotion in that program as she possibly could, and I agreed. I loved the circular footwork ( the only change I would made to that was when she momentarily stopped in front of the judges, I wished she would've looked directly at them instead of down on the ice). The iconic spiral that she hit right at the crescendo of the music and the final arms movements of the layback into the ending pose gave me goose pumps when I saw it on TV.
  33. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to express what it felt like to experience it in person.
  34. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    We will agree to disagree. Her post Lori programs seemed to be she just skated around the rink to other and doing a jump at each end. She skated through the music, not used the music. Also with Bolero in particular there was not much demonstration of multi directional skating in that she skated most of it in an anticlockwise direction which is not good program composition either. In fact you could say that most of her SPs after Lori were pretty much the same program just skated to a different piece of music.

    A sign of telling if the skater really is using the music is to turn the music off and see whether you can see anything in the program that would give you an indication of a theme or idea and also detail. That example you gave is one of those. There was a little bit of choreograph at the start but it certainly wasn't carried through. Maybe only the circular steps brought something out, maybe hitting the spiral on the music, but there was very little else in the program that gave any indication of the music choice. And you certainly couldn't say the choreography was complex or detailed because there just wasn't a lot of choreographic content.

    I always felt with Lori, Kwan brought out emotion and character in the performances. After Lori she kind of just smiled through most of her programs and there was a real lack of emotional investment and connection in the music.

    Sorry if that upsets Kwan fans but I was asked the question and that is my answer.
  35. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    ^^ Entitled to your views, Aussie Willy, but just Wow! Without Lori, MK still brings out emotion and character in her performances. If all you see in Spartacus, Hands, Kissing You, Tosca, The Miraculous Mandarin, Winter Song, etc., are just "smiling ... and lack of emotional investment and connection in the music," then I feel sorry for you, and I'd hate for you to be one of the judges scoring skating by any of my favorite skaters.

    Not upset at all, just sayin... Whatever you think or anyone thinks, doesn't change Kwan's greatness or what she accomplished in her amazing career, and what she is still contributing in her life today.
  36. Kwantumleap

    Kwantumleap New Member

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    Regarding Aussie Willy's statement about the same program with different music: The Feeling Begins and Spartacus are totally different programs even with the music off. Even her Totentanz SP "to be" was different than her other programs. I don't buy calling her SPs the same. I agree that her LPs lacked as much content as before 2002, but to me it felt like she was transitioning into a stage of greater emphasis on technical content as early as 1998 following her defeats to Tara in 97. After the Olympics in 98 her next two LPs stressed her power and command. She seemed stronger. Her biggest competitors Slutskaya and the younger American girls emphasized technical content more. Artistically, Michelle had already reached a plateau by Lyra Angelica IMO. She still was able to go further with other programs, but technically she had more room to grow, so IMO she began exploring that more. We may just be talking about the same thing in different terms, less choreo = greater technical emphasis for Michelle.

    One things I love about Michelle's LPs from 03 on, minus probably Bolero, is that she skated each of them with a different intensity and fire that you just can't measure when talking about choreography. She had minimal choreography but was able to create (at least in my mind) an even greater artistic effect than many skaters with lots of choreography. Again, that's just my opinion, but I really think this whole conversation has to be framed around what is known of Michelle's injuries she sustained from about 03 (and perhaps earlier) on to her final competitive performances.
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  37. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Well-Known Member

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    Why would you feel sorry for me if I don't get what you see? I think the hardest thing is to try and be objective about performances, to quantify aspects and not to get drawn into the emotion of them. And if it makes me a tough judge then so be it. That is what I have had to learn to do. I am really picky when it comes to skaters using the music and I want to see the music used. Maybe it is one of the consequences of IJS and the breaking down of components, which is probably what I am applying in this case.

    I agree that Kwan was a really great skater. However years later after watching performances from her that I thought were really good, I have had to reevaluate certain aspects of them as I have gained more judging knowledge. But that just doesn't go for just Kwan. It goes for a whole heap of skaters, which can either put them in a more negative or positive evaluation on reflection and understanding. However the topic of conversation is around Kwan so that is who we are discussing.
  38. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

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    ^^^ And that there in a nutshell is the problem, I'd say! How can you be a judge of whether or not MK is emotionally invested in her programs sans Lori and connected to the music, when you as a consequence of learning to judge via IJS must not "get drawn into the emotion"? That makes you an emotionless judge "quantifying aspects" rather than fully appreciating the performance as a whole, which again is a large part of the problem with CoP.

    If you were actually making critiques that had validity in Kwan's case, then okay. For example, I do feel that Bolero is not MK's best program by far, but still she manages to convey emotion, altho' the music and choreo did not work for her. But if you think in the below programs that MK is not expressing palpable emotion and connection to the music, then definitely I do feel sorry for you because you are truly missing something quite unique and special.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWQSoIEAxns

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kwr4zH53-bo

    And below, the last time Kwan would win Worlds, even though she still had a similar indefinable magic in 2004 and 2005. Yes, I know its hard for judges to score magic. And now, sans Kwan and post CoP, you can find precious little or none of any kind of magic. So, along with being anonymous, I guess that makes the judges happy they don't have to worry about getting "drawn into emotion."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfluAux0Sf0

    And once again, MK's relationship with Lori as her choreographer was a very collaborative one, taking nothing away from either of them. Sans Lori, MK is still a great skater. In addition, ITA with Kwantumleap, that Kwan began to focus more and more on aspects of speed, power, and athleticisim later in her career, because that is what the judges were preferring to reward. As great as she is/was, Kwan was often criticized even during her dominant years. She is great, in part, because of the constant criticism, Olympic disappointments, and injuries she had to overcome.
  39. Mayra

    Mayra Well-Known Member

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    This.

    If it was only Lori then you could argue she should have theoretically been able to transfer that magic to all the skaters she works with and that clearly isn't the case*cough* American ladies *cough*. She has created some lovely programs post Kwan including those for S/P and Patrick Chan. Saying it was only Michelle discounts all the hard work that Lori put in during Michelle's transition in the 95-96 season(and beyond) to help improve her presentation. I consider "Fields of Gold" to be one of Michelle's best interpretive programs, if not the best and it was choreographed by Sarah K.

    I don't think it was the case of one being more fortunate than the other for having worked together, more like they were both fortunate to have each other. Together they helped create and bring to life some incredible programs.

    :respec: Michelle, Lori and Frank
  40. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

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    Kwan is beyond quantification. I for one am happy she wasn't subjected to COP for very long. It brings out the worst in so many skaters and in figure skating in general in so many ways. Sometimes I feel that a skater should just stand by the boards and wait to be asked to do their Level 4 Spiral, and then their best axel, and then their Level 30 (LOL) spin, and so on. So many programs have become demonstrations of moves without much connectivity. There are a few, but very few, exceptions to this rule. Figure (and I do mean FIGURE) skating is no longer the sport it used to be. The actual skating, which was originally based on figures, leaves much to be desired at times. When we see a skater who actual has good skating skills, they stand out -- in a good way (e.g., Patrick Chan). But tricks are where it's at because that's where the points are at.

    I remember Tarasova commenting about Kwan that she could "do anything." And by "do anything," Tarasova was not referring to Kwan's "trick" ability. Not many skaters or fans or judges these days (esp those coming up in COP) probably even grasp the full meaning of that statement.

    Michelle Kwan was and is a tremendous figure skater.

    O-