What if Yamaguchi had chosen pairs instead?

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

  1. 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."
     
  2. 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!
     
  3. 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.
     
  4. 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.
     
  5. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Julia, Elena, Anna, Liza, and Sasha

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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.
     
  6. 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.
     
  7. 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.
     
  8. 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.
     
  9. 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.
     
  10. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Julia, Elena, Anna, Liza, and Sasha

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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.
     
  11. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Julia, Elena, Anna, Liza, and Sasha

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    Ito getting older? She was just 2 years older than Kristi. Kristi was 19, so Ito must have been 21 at that time. That's hardly 'old' even for a singles skater. Ito's problem was injuries at that point, but she was still the favorite for the 92 Olympics. Kristi's plan was really for the 94 OGM, but the 91 worlds title fell into her lap due to Ito's injury and the 92 OGM due to the Japanese press destroying their own hope for the OGM.
     
  12. Lnt175

    Lnt175 Member

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    In a way Ito had been a mainstay on the senior circuit since her 1984 Skate Canada win. She had alot more mileage and injuries on her than Yamaguchi, and it started to show in the 90-91 season when she skated sub par at SA losing to Kristi, then having all those problems at worlds. Its a shame really she didn't get to enjoy more years on the amateur competitions after Albertville. It would have been interesting to see if she had been able to continue post 92 with no break in between, with Harding no longer a factor in competitions, and her biggest rivals being Baiul and Kerrigan.
     
  13. mustafinabars

    mustafinabars Member

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    Ito lost handily to Yamaguchi at Skate America 1990 too. What was her excuse that time, bed bugs? What would have been the excuse had Ito gone to the 92 Worlds and lost to Kristi (which she probably would have had she been there). From fall 1990 onwards Kristi won 6 of her 9 meetings with Midori so it was hardly luck when she beat her. If you want to limit to just amateur then Kristi won 7 of her 8 programs vs Ito from fall 1990 to winter 1992. Midori hitting all her jumps could potentially beat her, and Tonya Harding hitting all her jumps potentiall could too. But if she didnt skate perfectly she was probably always going to lose against Kristi's complete package of artistic and technical skating which the judges loved, and Kristi was super consistent minus the almost guaranteed triple salchow miss.

    I happen to like Ito more than Kristi but the injuries you refer to are part of skating at the senior level since 1984 which is exactly what I was implying, years at the top level of pounding jumps and injuries are bound to start happening. Just look at what happened to Kwan at the end of her career. Amateur skating back then was not usually for more than 5-6 years at the top level so 2 years is even a long time, but more importantly in mileage Ito had much more on her legs and body than Kristi by that point. Kristi had only started skating at the top level at 89 so she was still a very fresh in terms of wear and tear goes. Plus the level she was at in 89-90 was so insanely high it would be hard for even her to mantain much longer, especialy how many years of great skating she took building up to that point. Kristi knew she could only get better at that point, while Ito had the challenge to even stay at the incredibly high level she was already at, and stay physically and mentally at her best after years at the top level.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013
  14. mustafinabars

    mustafinabars Member

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    Sorry I didnt notice your post. You basically summed up what I said but much shorter and more to the point.

    I dont think there is any chance Ito was ever going past 92. She was already pretty much a spent force by 92 although she still had enough skills to win the 92 Olympics if she skated her best, but she was already physically and emotionally spent with amateur competition. She was just trying to hang on for that last crack at the prize she didnt have, and then that was definitely it for her, win or lose. She never had any remote plans as far as I know to go past 92. And given how her comeback in 1996 went, it likely wouldnt have been succcessful for her if she had tried to.

    Then again the field in 96 was alot tougher than it would have been in 94, and she was younger in 94 than 96 (like I said at that point, even 2 years is a big difference) so maybe had she tried a comeback for 94 rather than 96 it would have gone somewhat better, even if she didnt neccessarily win. The comeback in 96 was always a huge mistake, but I dont think poor Midori even wanted to do it either, but the Japanese basically forced it upon her. I dont think had she kept competing straight through to 94 it would have gone well as she clearly needed some time off, but had she come back just for the 94 Japan Nationals and Olympics maybe she could have won the bronze atleast. Definitely better chances than she ever had in her 96 comeback.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013
  15. easilydistracte

    easilydistracte Active Member

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    There had been some talk [rumor?/trial balloon?/wishful thinking?] in the years between Lillehammer and Nagano that Kristi was considering reinstating and "doing pairs again" with an eye to possibly competing at Nagano because she missed [skating and competing] pairs. I don't remember whether any male skater in particular was mentioned as a possible partner, but it would have been strange (for me, anyway) to see her skating with anyone other than Rudy, despite her performing quite lovely pairs numbers with other partners during her pro career and despite Rudy having moved on with his own singles career. It would have been interesting, anyway, to see how well a team of Yamaguchi & ["insert a name here"] would have done leading up to 1998.

    [Here's the GS thread I mentioned in my previous post: http://www.goldenskate.com/forum/sh...-Yamaguchi-Rudy-Galindo-pair-redux-circa-2013 . (GS had archived the thread.) Links in the thread go to pics of Kristi & Rudy and also Kristi's daughter Emma & coach Rudy. The pic of Kristi & Rudy shows what looks like possibly only a move toward center ice after an intro, but their lines and extension and turnout are so gorgeous. Gosh, what might have been! (Mods please delete if I'm not allowed to link. Thanks.)]
     
  16. Lnt175

    Lnt175 Member

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    We often talk about how Yamaguchi would have killed the competition in 94 but Ito still had that 3A in 93. I do see a better scenario for her in Lillehammer especially considering the fact that even a half clean performance would challenge Baiul. Of course the stress of competition may have been too much for her at that point from the JSF, and she may have ended up performing like Harding did; a once great skater who was past her peak.

    As for Yamaguchi coming back for Nagano as a pair, didn't she say she was glad she retired after her gold?
     
  17. mustafinabars

    mustafinabars Member

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    The 1996-1998 period would have been a great time for Kristi to try a comeback for pairs if she was going to. The field was a joke. By that time she probably would have had a better shot in pairs than singles for the first time ever. Kristi & Rudy could have definitely been challenging for gold by then had they been able to stay together that long.
     
  18. mustafinabars

    mustafinabars Member

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    As for Baiul it is hard to know what the judges think when it comes to her. She won the LP at the 93 Worlds with only the 3rd best long program and won the LP at the 94 Olympics with only the 4th best LP. Presumably if someone skated at so far superior a level that it couldnt be denied they would still beat her though. Yamaguchi almost certainly would have, and Ito sufficiently refreshed and with far less pressure than 92 perhaps could have also.

    Ito would probably have needed her triple axel to beat Baiul though since the judges would almost certainly have given way higher artistic scores to Baiul than Ito (I wouldnt but they would) and Ito wouldnt even get the kind of also very high artistic scores Kerrigan got in still losing to Baiul despite far outjumping her. Baiul did land only 3 clean triples in Lillehammer, but because she was Mrs. Emperors New Clothes during her brief amateur career that is probably the equivalent of 6 clean triples in the judges eyes.
     
  19. easilydistracte

    easilydistracte Active Member

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    Found a couple of extremely old articles re: Kristi considering reinstating: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1993-02-27/sports/9303185584_1_jenni-meno-nicks-olympics & http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-03-24/sports/1993083095_1_yamaguchi-olympic-gold-gold-medalist . (Both articles are from the 1990's.)

    Very interesting reading. I never knew that Kristi had had a tryout with Scott Wendland. He had been Jenni Meno's partner prior to her teaming up with Sand.
     
  20. Lnt175

    Lnt175 Member

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    Yes never knew that either. Also whats interesting here is how she says she felt not alot of pressure in Albertville, but would for Lillehammer. I always thought the pressure was big on Kristi going into those games, although she did share it with Harding who was also expected to win gold.
     
  21. Lnt175

    Lnt175 Member

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    I think the judges also credited Baiul with the last triple toe, and partial credit on the 3F. They basically did everything they could to justify giving similar/higher tech marks than Kerrigan. How interesting would it have been with both Ito and Yamaguchi back in 94. That would have raised the bar incredibly, and Baiul wouldn't have been scoring anywhere as high as she did.
     
  22. Jammers

    Jammers Well-Known Member

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    I wonder why Kristi thought about making the Olympic team in Pairs in 1994? She would have had no chance for a medal but if she did singles again she would have been a huge favorite and became a legend if she had won.
     
  23. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Yamaguchi was a favorite for gold in Albertville since she was reigning World Champion, but she was just one of 3 favorites along with Ito and Harding. If anything Ito was the slight gold medal favorite, not her. However for Lillehammer Yamaguchi would have been the overwhelming favorite for gold (even if Ito also returned as she had barely competed even professionally since Albertville). That is why she probably feels she would have had more pressure for Lillehammer.
     
  24. leapfrogonice

    leapfrogonice Active Member

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    Kristi and Rudi did some unreal incredible singles elements in their programs. Even from when they were juniors. Side by side triple flips, in sequence followed by side by side triple toes. TOTALLY RIDIC!!