Yuka Sato: a puzzling career

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by krenseby, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. paskatefan

    paskatefan Well-Known Member

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    I first heard of Yuka during the 1992 Olympics. TNT channel (I think) was showing the second flight of ladies during the afternoon, and I remembering being very impressed with Yuka back then. IIRC, she finished 7th at those Olympics.

    I may be in the minority here, but I liked "Hatful of Stars." Please don't throw tomatoes at me! :lol: :D
  2. manhn

    manhn Well-Known Member

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    Although the "no-name" part is certainly arguable, there were non-American and Canadian pairs and dance teams like Natalia Annenko and Genrikh Sretenski, and Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko who did very well for themselves relative to their international success.
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  3. Triple Butz

    Triple Butz Well-Known Member

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    That program is one of my favorites EVER. Haters, back off!!
  4. blue_idealist

    blue_idealist Well-Known Member

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    That was a memorable program for me. Not my favourite or anything, but it was good.
  5. Bournekraatzfan

    Bournekraatzfan New Member

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    THIS. Yuka is one of my all-time favourite skaters, and I am thrilled to see her share her knowledge with a talented crop of younger skaters.

    Gosh, this thread makes me really miss the pro scene 90s...I loved the exposure pro skaters got at that time, and I felt skaters like Yamaguchi, Sato, and Chouinard really blossomed on the pro circuit.
  6. Bournekraatzfan

    Bournekraatzfan New Member

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    some favourites:

    "Angel Standing By"-showed off her lightness, her ease of movement, the gorgeous run of her edge...and her natural feel for the music

    "Brazilica"-showcased those wicked feet--clean, sharp, lightning-fast
  7. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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  8. figurefan

    figurefan New Member

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    No need to understand it...That's why they call this section The Trash Can. ;)

    I remember when Yuka and Jason did some pairs stuff together as pros. They were actually quite good.

    I find nothing puzzling about her career. She had success as an eligible skater, went on to success in the pros and dabbled in pairs. Now she is part of a coaching team that has already produced a couple of National Champions. I would actually call it a well rounded career.
  9. krenseby

    krenseby New Member

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    But what is meant by success in the pros? I mean wasn't the ladies field in pro competition weak to the point that pretty much any top 10 competitor from Worlds could walk in and win the World Pros?
  10. falling_dance

    falling_dance Well-Known Member

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    OTOH, why is 1996 Worlds remembered as featuring one of the greatest ladies' competitions ever? It's true that there were a number of impressive performances--particularly strong SPs for the time--but it's really just about the top two finishers. As far as a top-ten lady walking in to win at Landover goes, I'm not sure I can see Elena Liashenko, Marie-Pierre Leray, or even Maria Butyrskaya and a very young Irina Slutskaya beating Yuka Sato and Kristi Yamaguchi, even bearing in mind the advantage of the smaller field. (For one thing, the limited number of jumping passes would obviate the Oly-eligibles' clearest technical advantage.) Granted, Sato and Yamaguchi competed at the same World Pros just three times (1994-6), but their competing against each other counts for something. Heck, Hughes and Butyrskaya didn't beat Sato in 2002.

    Of course, another thing that's meant by "success in pros" is that Sato gave a number of memorable performances, like the Spartacus TP at 1995 World Pros and Song of the Homeland at the 2002 Hallmark Championships. That Sato surely made decent money and a lot of people were watching at home didn't hurt, either.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2011
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  11. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady New Member

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    Going out on a high note used to be the ideal.
  12. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    I tend to agree. Yamaguchi and Sato in their pro form at the time would have been competing with Kwan and Chen in 96, and dusting the rest of the field at the 96 Worlds. Slutskaya had little girly programs, took a huge fall on her side on her triple lutz, and still won the bronze easily by a wide margin.

    Meanwhile any of Yamaguchi, Sato, and Ito in their late 94 pro form would have probably thrashed the field at the 95 Worlds.

    The World Pros around that time was not a weak event at all. That goes for all the disciplines. In all of them the top skaters were comparable to the top amateur, and in some events like the pairs and dance they were much better.

    As for the idea of any top 10 skater from Worlds winning the World Pros, LOL! Skaters like Kwiatkowski (although kudos to her excellent career best performances at Worlds this year), Yokoyo, Vorobieva, top 10 finishers at the Worlds that year, would have stuck out like a sore thumb at the World Pros and placed a distant last, unless they still invited Katerina Witt. Ito skated miserably at Worlds with only 2 clean triples in the long program, and still placed 6th or 7th. A washed up Bonaly with mediocre performances and a fall in the short program placed 5th.
  13. Coco

    Coco Well-Known Member

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    I think all the skaters from the non-traditional powers (Sato, Chen, Tanja S.* Bonaly at her best, etc.), these skaters really forced significant improvements in judging.

    I guess I don't know enough about skaters finishing #3-#8 prior to '84, but it seems like the skaters I listed put TPTB in a position of needing a more equitable scoring system. They were too good to be denied forever, and there just weren't enough opportunities to reward them.
  14. figurefan

    figurefan New Member

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    She made good money and won competitions, I would consider that a success. I guess one could argue the quality of the competitors could have better but as falling_dance pointed out she had memorable performances and made decent money.
  15. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    I also agree that they would've both been ahead of a young Slute and everyone else, but Chen and Kwan were in peak form w/ much improved artistry and 6 - 7 triples respectively. KY without a 3sal would've really needed the 3-3 in '96 to compete with them. Was she still capable of that? [but then again, KY staying amateur successfully thru '96 would've probably built her rep with the judges]. Sato, I'm not too sure about: She had the SS but what about her technically could've placed her even or shot her ahead of the above 3??

    Also, not to stray too far OT, but wasn't Chouinard a good pro skater in the 90s? Could she have competed with the above and been ahead of someone like Slute in '96?
  16. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Is the question how Yamaguchi and Sato would have done at Worlds ca. 1996 skating under ISU rules, or how the Worlds top-10 skaters would have done at World Pros under a format with fewer jumps and more importance to artistry?
  17. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    Yuka was only doing three different triples as a pro: sal, toe, loop. The lutz was a rare jump for her. She wouldn't have been competitive technically with the top 5 skaters in the eligible rank.

    Kristi would have done alright since she did all the triples minus the sal and axel, and the judges liked her.

    World Pro judging was always highly suspect. The judges definitely had their favorites and wouldn't have placed a Liashenko, for example, above more established stars who skated technically below par but othwerise solid programs.
  18. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Chouinard reinstated and competed on the Grand Prix Champions Series in 1995-96. She beat Slutskaya convincingly at Trophee de France

    and was right up there with her at the series final

    So she might have been able to contend for a medal at Worlds. Or she might have bombed like she did at Canadians that year, losing the title and the one ladies' spot at Worlds to Jennifer Robinson. Or anything in between.

    In the end she just went back to being a pro where there was less pressure.
  19. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Kristi and Michelle competed agaisnt each other at the Ultimate Four in fall 1996. In the short program both skated cleanly with the same jumps and Kristi won on a 3-2 split. In the long Michelle skated cleanly again and Kristi fell apart in her Tango number. She would definitely be competitive in the short program, I dont know about the long. Her jump consistency would probably be waning with age at that point. However she would have the reputation factor in her favor if she were amateur, she would have a history of past titles and been around alot longer than Michelle or even Lu.

    The lutz was not a rare jump for Yuka in the 94 and 95 fall pro seasons btw. She usually landed it. She started to lose it for good in fall of 96. I would also assume all the top pros would be doing atleast slightly more jump wise if they training for amateur instead. Even Boitano whose body was too beat up for amateur competition and was the dominant pro at the time tried more jump content in his amateur programs than his pros when he returned.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2011
  20. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    You may have seen a '96 Worlds competition with a 3-way battle among Kwan, Chen, and Yamaguchim, and both young Euro champ Slutskaya and Sato in a best-of-the-rest situation just off the podium, as well as extreme wild card Chouinard anywhere between medal threat to out of the top 10!
  21. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    I like Josee alot, but I think Chouinard is overrated by some people. She is a good skater when she is on but not only was she wildly inconsistent but even skating her best she usually wasnt good enough. As far as her competitive place (I am not talking about skating style) she was basically Fumie Suguri without any of Fumie's consistency or tenacity. At the 93 Worlds she skated clean in the short program and ended up a distant 4th, barely over Chen on a split vote, and above Sato who did only a triple loop combo. At the 94 Worlds in the short she skated clean in a depleted field missing the 3 Olympic medalists and still was a distant 3rd to Sato and Bonaly. Even had she done a clean long she would have probably never been battling for more than a bronze at any major event, even in 93-94 which arguably had no dominant or truly great skaters at the time (Sato and Chen flourished as skaters be it as amateur or pro much more after 94). She was never seen as a potential leader or major event winner.

    In the pro events she did well in some but that is mostly since she was one of the only women doing a triple lutz as skaters like Ito and Yamaguchi did not compete in most of her events (although she never came anywhere near beating Kristi in a pro competition, while Yuka beat Kristi many times in them), and most of the others were either 80s era skaters, undertrained pros (Baiul, Kerrigan). The aging Denise Biellmann even doing much easier jumps and with widely disliked (by the judges) artistry still managed to beat a clean Chouinard in some events. Of course give Josee credit for capatilizing on those opportunities and not letting herself go to waste as a pro like Nancy and Oksana and others did. At the World Pros she made only 2 appearances and came 5th and 4th.

    I cant see never see her coming close to Kwan or Chen from the 96 Worlds, and to beat someone like even young unpolished Slutskaya (even with 1 fall) would require her to skate a clean or almost clean competition which is pretty much impossible for her anyway. Even if you doubt Sato's chances to a degree I am 110% sure Sato would have been a much bigger potential threat for either the gold or a medal at the 96 Worlds than Josee would have been, even with home ice advantage.
  22. krenseby

    krenseby New Member

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    In the ladies field, the 1999 event was quite bizarre. You had Lipinski and Bonaly being the top skaters at the event, but the thing is neither of them had anything professional or polished about their skating. Lipinski and Bonaly were amateurs through and through, both of them mostly relying on jumping skills and not really all that advanced in presentation and pure skating.
  23. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    Once they began allowing pro ams in the fall of 98 it killed pro skating forever. It was ridiculous seeing for instance Kwan and Yagudin easily win the so called World Pros that year. Not that there skating wasnt professional in nature (much more than Lipinski or Bonaly) but they were still full fledged amateurs for a long time to come and it killed the whole concept of professional competition. Many of the pro (pro am) events had almost all eligible amateurs and 1 or 2 pros that finished last. The judges scored it just like amateur competition too, the most triples wins.
  24. krenseby

    krenseby New Member

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    Well, didn't Michelle feel that she was not really competing against the other skaters but really coming to show how much more impressive her jumping arsenal was and that these other ladies were really not fit to challenge her? I wonder what her approach to the competition was. Could she even look at those other ladies as competitors or did she just think of that event not as a competition but rather as a fun outing more like a cheesefest?
  25. Triple Butz

    Triple Butz Well-Known Member

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    But Josee beat Kwan and Hughes at the 2000 Canadian Open :rofl:
  26. Triple Butz

    Triple Butz Well-Known Member

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    I think her "approach" was that she skipped the GP that season for the first time since leaving the junior ranks and she wanted to get a LP performance under her belt before Nationals and Worlds. She could have won the technical program with a much easier 2-3 triple exhibition, but she chose to put out her lp to gear up for the end of the season eligible competitions. She had already debuted her sp in several other pro-ams that season. It was because of her absence on the GP that season the the ISU invented the "seeded skaters" list, forcing top qualifiers in the World Championships to skate in GP events.
  27. krenseby

    krenseby New Member

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    Ok, so she basically just saw it as a practice session, or in other words like a cheesefest that's the perfect opportunity for her to get herself ready for more serious competitions. Just like I thought. Basically, she didn't care whether she was at Marshalls Challenge, the Hershey's Kisses Challenge, or the World Pros.
  28. falling_dance

    falling_dance Well-Known Member

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  29. Triple Butz

    Triple Butz Well-Known Member

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    That's like saying the GP series is a "practice session" for worlds. I think she took it seriously as a competition, but obviously she was thinking ahead at the same time. She has said time and time again in interviews that she doesn't pay attention to what other skaters are doing, she focuses on her own abilities and what she knows she can do.
  30. Marco

    Marco Missing Ziggy

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    I don't care if Michelle treated it as a practice session or not. She unleashed that perfect East of Eden at 1999 World Pro - that's all I care about.
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  31. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    I know Pro skaters cared about winning and all that jazz, but were there any established criteria or standards for which the judges had to go by in order to actually differentiate the performances? Or was it just up to the particular judge's (usually a skating personality) discretion to create his/her own standard?
  32. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    As far as I know there was no rulebook (except some requirements or limits on the elements) and no formal or consistent training for pro judges. Different competitions sometimes had different rules. Mainly it was just up to the skater-personality judges to rank the skaters according to their own impressions of technical merit and artistry, based on their own experiences as skaters (and sometimes coaches).

    Of course there were usually only 4-6 skaters per event, so ranking didn't get that complicated, but the scoring was usually done by adding up scores, not ordinals.

    I don't know if there was always someone who filled the equivalent of the referee role. Either that person or a representatitive of the competition organizer (e.g., perhaps Dick Button himself for the competitions that he organized) might give some reminders before the event about what to look for, what kinds of qualities to reward.


    Now, the pro-ams that used ISU judges would have had more consistency in their short program segments, but I don't think there was much more training or consistency for how to judge the interpretive programs.
  33. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    UGH!
  34. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

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    Yuka made the right choice.
    She was older than Lu Chen, and didn't have consistent Lutz and Flip. Her step sequences, so fast, and her excellent skating skills were known at the time she was amateur.
    She decided to turn pro, and finally, she is a very well known pro skater and now, a coach.
    She had a good amateur career, and a good pro career.
  35. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

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    Kristi was an exception in the pro field because she maintained her jumps even as a pro. Most pro ladies did only two triples (toe, plus salchow or loop) and a double axel. Yuka was the same level jump wise but her basic skating, footwork and musical interpretation created a very good pro career for her. I agree about the world pro judging though. It was horribly biased and subjective. There were no established rules and the judges just picked their favorites, regardless of how anyone skated.
  36. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Well-Known Member

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    Skating Lesson's new interview with Yuka Sato
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  37. escaflowne9282

    escaflowne9282 Well-Known Member

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    I still wish she'd have worn a hat at least once during the three seasons she used HFOS.

    I think I'm probably the only person who vastly preferred her amateur skating to her pro skating.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  38. Bournekraatzfan

    Bournekraatzfan New Member

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    Sato is one of my all-time favourites (those knees! Those edges! Those neat little feet!) and i am happy she went pro when the pro scene here was still thriving in NA. I got to watch her all the time, and those match-ups with Kristi are some of my favourite figure skating memories. I really enjoyed the interview manleywoman did with her (thanks again for that, manleywoman!)...Yuka seems at peace with everything, and i love seeing her share her expertise with the current generation of competitive skaters. And while i prefer her as a singles skater, it has been a treat to watch her in pairs.
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  39. Lnt175

    Lnt175 New Member

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    Sato had an incredible pro performance to Kitaro a Japanese composer. One of the best choreographed programs IMO,

    I think she made the right choice. I do think she could have been competitive in 95 worlds against Chen and Bonaly, but I think landing 6-7 triples per LP was a challenge for her. Chen was always consistent up until her tumble in the 96-97 season. Sato didn't show that until her pro career, but even there she had to get rid of the Lutz eventually.

    Sato also won the World Pros over Yamaguchi in 01, although they called it the Hallmarks Championships.
  40. FunnyBut

    FunnyBut Well-Known Member

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    Yes, with a fall she beat a clean Kwan and Hughes, a accomplishment no one else ever repeated.:shuffle::rofl: