What if Yamaguchi had chosen pairs instead?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by DarrellH, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. DarrellH

    DarrellH New Member

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    Would Kristi and Rudy have been a World/Olympic medal threat at some point?
  2. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    It is hard to say. They were 5th at their first 2 Worlds which indicates forward progress, as the 1990 field was far stronger than the 1989 one. Still if I had to guess I see them most likely being a Meno & Sand type contender at best. A team that could win the bronze if some of the favorites fell apart. Watching them I dont see them being a championship pair even down the road, but it is impossible to know how they would have developed for sure. Maybe had they hung around for the weak 1995-1998 they could have been a gold contender then depending how they developed but only a bit player from 1991-1994.
  3. bardtoob

    bardtoob Well-Known Member

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    Before the elimination of figures, both Kristi and Rudy had a better shot at an international medal in pairs than singles. However, after figures were eliminated they were far more likely to medal in singles.

    If they had continued, I think we would have seen a lot of firsts in the record books despite few medals, including SBS 3Lp and 3Lz. They already are the first to perform SBS 3F.
  4. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    I guess it would have depended on how much stronger they could make their pair elements (they had already improved in 1990). Perhaps even more than that how their style would have matured, and whether they would have developed a real look together to get higher artistic marks. I am using a team like Brasseur & Eisler as a barometer for their future chances, and I honestly dont see them beating B&E unless they bombed (eg- 92 Olympics) so that is why I see a 3rd or 4th place cap on most of their results in the immediate future (keeping in mind B&E usually finshed 2nd or 3rd).

    Kristi looked majorly p-ed off when she saw Holly Cook bump her off the podium at the 1990 Worlds. I could tell right at that moment what she was going to do, and it was bad news for Rudy.
  5. dawnie

    dawnie Active Member

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    I thought it was common knowledge there were rumors about her splitting the pair before that? But yes, I agree her losing a medal (and to Cook of all people) was the catalyst.
  6. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Oh yeah I had heard that before Worlds too. However Worlds made it clear it was going to happen. Not moving up from their previous years finish in pairs, and not having such a hot skate there; and Kristi having a rough long program in singles, and missing out on a medal there. I felt awful for him though as I had heard he gave up his singles career for pairs by that point, and it sure took him a long time to get back in the loop in a serious way in singles again.
  7. Sasha is DIVINE

    Sasha is DIVINE New Member

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    Have there been many successful mirror pairs, though? I found them distracting to watch. BTW Holly Cook's bronze at Worlds is one of the most WTF moments ever.
  8. DarrellH

    DarrellH New Member

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    I just remember reading then that G&G were told that Kristi and Rudi were going to eventually be their stiffest competition.
  9. kuzytalent

    kuzytalent Member

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    They would have won gold at the 92 Olympics, and bronze at the 94 Olympics. Would have won the World titles in both 93 and 94. Then they might have continued or stopped and cashed in as pros.
  10. Jammers

    Jammers Well-Known Member

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    No way would they have beaten M&D at the 92 Olympics. They were just not in their league as a Pairs team.
  11. blue_idealist

    blue_idealist Well-Known Member

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    ITA.
  12. DarrellH

    DarrellH New Member

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    I do think they would have been a better pair, if Kristi only done pairs. Her single skating got better once she dropped pairs. She came across as very focused (to me).
  13. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

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    I think as Kristi grew, Rudy's small size became an issue in regards to lifts. They might have gotten credit for side by side triples, but triples are considered a singles element, while lifts are a uniquely pairs element and I don't see how they could have kept up with the other pairs in that regard. Conversely, their small size made them ideal for singles skating. I think Kristi did the right thing, it is just a shame there wasn't someone looking out for Rudy's future at the time. He had dropped singles and bulked up for pairs.

    It would have been interesting to see them do pairs as pros though.
  14. satchelpooch318

    satchelpooch318 New Member

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    The random (hearsay) thing I definitely remember was that it was Tamara Moskvina who loved Kristi and Rudy's skating, and she was telling her students at the time that if they wanted to be future World or Olympic champions, they had to fend off Kristi and Rudy.
  15. satchelpooch318

    satchelpooch318 New Member

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    Whoops! Double post.
  16. skateboy

    skateboy Well-Known Member

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    This.
  17. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    G&G were junior world champs when Katia was 13, and they became a legend. Kristi & Rudy were also jr world champs but they were competing when the pairs field was dominated by legends - G&G and M&D. I believe Y&G could have developed enough to win at least a world medal. Their best chance for a WC Gold would have been in 94 since the legends did not compete then. Had they continued past 94, they had a great chance to win a couple of world championships because the pairs field became quite weak after the 94 Oly. They could have beaten K&N, Y&B and certainly W&S.
  18. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    It is funny to think how different things are across different disciplines though. Many years later after Grinkov's tragic passing Gordeeva had to compete against Kristi in singles as a pro and she never came close to beating her, but was a distant 2nd in many events in 97-98 to her. I remember her telling the press after a couple of them she was thrilled to be 2nd to Kristi since Kristi was unbeatable, a giant you couldnt even think of beating. After one of them, I think it was the U.S Pro or something where she beat Witt and Hamill, but was 2nd behind Kristi, she said she felt like she won the other competition since Kristi was in her own event. After the 98 World Pros when she was 2nd to Kristi she told a reporter she thought Kristi could beat Michelle and Tara for the Olympic Gold if she wanted to come back. Yet when Kristi was chasing Ekaterina in pairs in 89-90 that is probably how she felt in the reverse.
  19. DarrellH

    DarrellH New Member

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    I'm not sure that they were all that close, for awhile, after Kristi dropped pairs.
  20. mustafinabars

    mustafinabars Member

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    It is hard to say how they would develop. I dont think it is impossible they could have been competitive for gold by 92 though. Miskutienok & Dmitriev are a great team artistically but technically they are not that strong. Not a very good twist, simple lifts, and in Albertville she missed all the jumps in the long program too. Had Kristi & Rudy kept improving they could have been competitive with them.
  21. kuzytalent

    kuzytalent Member

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    I am assuming they would have improved alot since they were still very young. Also M&D made major mistakes at the 92 Olympics but still won since all their competitors did as well. I think Kristi & Rudy could have improved to the point to win the 92 Olympics on technical merit. M&D have weak technical pair elements like twist, lift, small throws, simple death spirals. Technically their strength is usually their side by side moves and spins, but they missed the jumps, and Kristi & Rudy have by far the hardest jumps too. M&D would win on the artistic mark, but I think Kristi & Rudy could win the 92 Olympics on the technical mark with how M&D skated that night.
  22. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

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    I think they could have outjumped the field, but their pairs elements were not that strong and IMO there is no way the Russians were going to let them take the OGM. Internationally, they were perceived as singles skaters and the judges and federation officials from countries with top pairs would have lobbied hard on that point. Also, as mentioned above, Rudy was small for pairs and that was always going to limit what they could do on the lifting elements. There also was the problem of being mirror skaters. In theory, there is no penalty for that, but in practice it means their SBS elements never reached the aaaah level of unison needed to be seen as an OGM candidate.

    I remember talk as early at 88-89 season that Kristi was not going to reach her potential in singles as long as she was trying to do both disciplines. To me, it was kind of a no-brainer to drop pairs.
  23. marmalade

    marmalade Hiding Johnny's Birkins

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    I remember Rudy being quite bitter for a few years after the split. Thank goodness he got over it and was able to focus on his own singles' career. That day in San Jose was the most magical thing I've seen in person. I'm not ashamed to say I was sobbing. It certainly beat watching Kristi decimate the field at '92 Worlds (which, for me, were all about the emergence of Lu Chen).
  24. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    The first time I'd heard of Yamaguchi and Galindo was at the 1988 World Junior Championships in Brisbane, Australia which I saw live. I was not only blown away by their tricks (which were light years ahead of the field in both junior and senior competition), but that they had a lot of energy and musicality.

    I understand that going down the classical path in later seasons may have meant being taken more seriously as a senior pair, but they really knew how to sell programs with a show - tune sensibility.

    The disadvantage Y & G may have faced was not their free skating, but the short program. It more or less put the top five or six teams on an even level with little room for variation.
  25. ks777

    ks777 Well-Known Member

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    Midori would have won the gold at the Olympics.
  26. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Assuming all else remained the same, Kristi would have only had to beat Nancy in both the SP and LP to win the gold over Midori at the 92 Olympics. I think even a Kristi dabbling with pairs and not becoming the skater she did become could have managed that.
  27. Lnt175

    Lnt175 Member

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    Yamaguchi had no problems with beating Kerrigan, even in the SPs where Kerrigan was skating her best. That being said I don't see her staying in pairs past the 89-90 season beacuse figures were gone in singles skating, and the technical difficulty in womens skating went up very high with the likes of Ito, Harding, Bonaly, Chen, and Kerrigan herself.
  28. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    I was surprised the judges did not hold Ito up in the SP at the 92 Olympics and place her 3rd over Bonaly. Bonaly's triple lutz looked two footed at first glance (although slow motion showed it wasnt), her double axel landing was shaky, and her overall skating was pretty weak around then. I think had the Olympics not been in France they would have done just that and then it would have just come down to the long between Kristi and Midori. Given how both skated it would have been a toss up then. Both had big mistakes, but both skated well and did some pretty hard things.

    Scott Hamilton though was furious Ito was over Harding in the short since he said Harding trying to the triple axel combo meant she should have had more credit and come ahead with both falling. I think skate order made a huge difference to how they scored Harding and Sato vs Ito and Hubert in the short.
  29. Rex

    Rex Well-Known Member

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    I say not very good because Rudy was a bit of a head case. At least at that time.
  30. Lnt175

    Lnt175 Member

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    I agree Bonaly was lucky really that was her home Olympics. Her skating skills were very poor in comparison to Ito, Harding and Kerrigan besides her shakiness. I think the judges still would have put Ito 3rd, but I do see a case for Harding as well.
  31. easilydistracte

    easilydistracte Active Member

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    Whether or not Y&G could have been successful if Kristi had continued with the partnership would have been heavily dependent on how their coaching situations would have been resolved, I think. Their long-time coach Jim Hulick passed away after a long illness just a few weeks prior to 1990 Nationals. He had asked John Nicks to take Y&G on, but I think that they had still not reached a level of comfort with Mr. Nicks by the time Worlds had rolled around that year. I think if they could have forged a good coaching relationship with Mr. Nicks or with another solid pairs coach, their prospects as a pairs team could have been much better than those prospects actually turned out.

    The fact that Kristi's singles coach Christy Ness moved to Canada in the same general time frame that Jim Hulick was in the final stages of his illness probably was a big push for Yamaguchi to dissolve the partnership, since, with Hulick deceased, there really was no one to act as an advocate for Rudy and/or the team of Y&G. Add to that the pressure that the USFSA was putting on Yamaguchi to opt solely for singles, and Y&G as a pair was pretty much doomed: the USFSA being much more interested, in my opinion, in the OGM returning to a US Lady rather than the possibility of a US Pairs team--no matter how good they had the potential to become--bringing home an Olympic medal of any color. All of this is speculation on my part, of course, from my point of view as a fan looking at things from the outside in and from a distance of nearly 25 years after the fact.

    I was so disappointed when Y&G split; mostly because I enjoyed their skating and also because I felt that they had the skills, talent and drive to seriously challenge the dominant Soviet/Russian pairs teams at the time. (They improved tremendously between 1989 and 1990.) If I remember correctly, Moskvina had been interviewed for a CBS fluff piece during worlds in either 1989 or 1990 and she had said something like "I am still afraid of Yamaguchi & Galindo. . ."

    It would have been surprising if there had not been some kind of estrangement between Kristi and Rudy after the split, but, if I am not mistaken, they did renew their friendship eventually. Kristi also asked Rudy to coach one of her daughters. (And I think that Rudy and that daughter performed together at the opening ceremonies at one of the recent US Nationals, didn't they?) Also, I seem to recall seeing a photo that Kristi had posted on Instagram earlier this year of her and Rudy doing a pairs move at the rink where Rudy now coaches. (Someone had posted a link to the photo in a thread in the Golden Skate forums and I can't find the link anymore, but it was amazing how their lines and extensions matched almost perfectly, all these years after they had split. I guess the body never forgets.)

    Unfortunately, Y&G fall into the "what might have been" and "if only. . ." categories for US Pairs skating. Really wish that we could have seen them fulfill their potential as a pairs team. Oh, well--"It is what it is."
  32. Casey2

    Casey2 Member

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    I have always believed that the coaching situation percipitated the split. Hulick's death and Ness moving to Canada were critical. It was marvelous to see both Kristie and (especially) Rudy excell in singles!
  33. Lnt175

    Lnt175 Member

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    I agree alot on the above about Yamaguchi probably being pressured by USFSA to pick one discipline, and really singles was where they wanted the gold to return after 16 years. In 89-90 season Yamaguchi was seen as the future of womens skating, but she had to make a committment in order for that to be assured. USFSA needed a lady with the whole package to challenge Ito. Trenary was on her way out, Harding was seen as erratic, and had yet to hit her 3A's and Kerrigan was not yet gold medal material.
  34. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    Natasha Kuchiki / Todd Sand were '91 World Bronze medalists. I think Y/G could've equaled that had they stayed together, finishing only behind M/D and B/E. Going into 1992 with any momentum, they could've repeated as bronze medalists in Albertville ahead of a flawed B/E, or even snatching a silver from B/P who didn't have a great reputation due to falling apart at critical moments. Although, their inspiring skates at Albertville probably would've kept them safe.
  35. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    In the SP she landed the sbs 2A, so you can't say she missed it in the LP "too". In the LP she singled a double axel and had a problem on the sbs 3t, but I don't see that as 'missed all the jumps'. IIRC they had another 2A and definitely a double flip. Their artistry would have trumped the jumps by Y&G, as it trumped B&P's clean LP skate. IMO Y&G would have won the bronze in 92 Oly because B&P were a superior pairs team that had been inconsistent, but skated very well in Albertville.
  36. mustafinabars

    mustafinabars Member

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    M&D only had 1 double axel in the LP. So she missed all the real jumps in the LP, the triple toe and the double axel. OK they did land the double flip, but that was all, and when you combine basically no solo jumps done with that with that their pair technical elements were also not great- not a very good twist, simple lifts, only a forward inside death spiral, and technically overall it was not very strong; even if artistically excellent. Usually their strong side by side jumps, especialy doing triple toes, negated their weaker pair elements to hold them up technically, but not this night. I think had Brasseur & Eisler skated cleanly that night they would have won gold based on a much higher technical mark. Granted Rudy & Kristi did not have great pair elements by 1990, but they might have improved by 92 and they atleast had super jumps.

    Bechke & Petrov were not clean in the 92 Olympic LP. She badly two footed the triple toe, it was no better than Natalia's attempt basically, and they singled the double axels. Their performance was good for them given their crash and burn history, but easily beatable and only won silver since Brasseur & Eisler bombed, and the overall event was weak. Y&G had they developed properly would atleast have had a shot of beating them.
  37. mustafinabars

    mustafinabars Member

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    Anyway it seems most of you feel Yamaguchi & Galindo would have never been good enough to be competitive with teams like Gordeeva & Grinkov, Miskutienok & Dmitriev, or even Brasseur & Eisler on a good day, and if that is the case why are some of you even questioning Kristis decision to go to singles. Even in 1990 it was obvious if she put more focus on singles she had the goods to seriously challenge Midori Ito for gold medals, the only one at the time who looked to have potential to do that (this was before Hardings 91 emergence). So lets see, one hand a real shot to be a gold contender-winner and possibly win the 92 Olympics and maybe 1994 Olympics too, or on the other hand to be fighting for bronze medals only in both singles and pairs, or only pairs. Why would anyone choose the latter, lol!

    Kristi was always very driven. She always wanted to be the best in the World, if that goal was unattainable for her in pairs, but it obviously was attainable for her in singles.
  38. Lnt175

    Lnt175 Member

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    Yamaguchi also knew figures were goinng to be phased out after the 89-90 season. As it was she was not working on improving her figures, but she almost medalled at those worlds, and probably would have over Cook if she was just a bit cleaner in the long.
  39. mustafinabars

    mustafinabars Member

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    Yes, figures being phased out, focusing just on singles, Trenary having already peaked as a free skater and at a technical level nowhere near what Kristi was already capable of, and Ito getting older and having the huge challenge of mantaining her 88-90 level of skating after years on the circuit and wear on tear on the body. It was the perfect storm coming together at once for Kristi if she just dumped pairs. She is far too smart and astute to not have seen that.
  40. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    Most certainly. IMO Ness moving to Canada was an even bigger factor than Hulick's death because it added the distance to be overcome. The situation was too much against them skating together, unless Kristi had quit singles, but I don't believe she would have ever given up singles.