View Poll Results: Who has been the best since Katarina Witt retired

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  • Mao Asada

    28 6.88%
  • Oksana Baiul

    1 0.25%
  • Midori Ito

    18 4.42%
  • Michelle Kwan

    176 43.24%
  • Tara Lipinski

    2 0.49%
  • Irina Slutskaya

    17 4.18%
  • Kristi Yamaguchi

    11 2.70%
  • Kim Yu Na

    143 35.14%
  • Sasha Cohen

    2 0.49%
  • Shizuka Arakawa

    7 1.72%
  • Sarah Hughes

    1 0.25%
  • Other

    1 0.25%
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  1. #1

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    Whose been the best since Katarina Witt retired?

    When Katarina finished her Carmen program at 88 Worlds, it was a very sad moment as it marked the end of an era. Who would you say has been the best since Katarina finished?

  2. #2
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    Honestly, there have been a few ladies who IMHO were better than Katarina. I always felt that Katarina was a great performer especially under pressure but I never was all that impressed with her overall as a skater. One of her biggest assets was that she didn't allow nerves and the thought of what could be overwhelm her where her opponents who should have been able to beat her seemed to. Both Roz Sumners and Debbie Thomas weren't able to take advantage of their chances to beat Katarina and win the Olympics because they (and probably the media and coaches to an extent) placed far too much pressure on themselves

    From your list I would say that Kwan, Arakawa, Yamaguchi, Yu NA and even Sarah Hughes and Irina Slutskaya (technically in their cases) were better.

    I found Sasha personally more interesting as a skater than Katarina but she was another who psyched herself out time and again. Of course to be fair, most of the other ladies skated during times in which the jump content needed to win was more demanding that what Katarina needed to win.

  3. #3
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    I agree with the previous poster.
    I don't think that Katarina Witt can be considered as a reference for a level of skater !
    For the palmares yes, but not for the skating.

    From the list, Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi and Shizuka Arakawa were better than Katarina Witt, IMO.

    But as we had to choose only one, my vote goes to YuNa Kim. I'm a Kwan fan, but YuNa impressed me so much with her speed, glide, power. Even if I prefer to watch Michelle skating.

  4. #4
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    I have a lot of respect for Katraina Witt. I think her contribution to skating was bringing theatrics, flair, and sensuality to skating, establishing it as a pop culture.

    But skating wise, I always thought Denise Biellman was much better skater. Too bad she had to turn pro after her championship win in 81. Otherwise, she had excellent chance at winning gold in Sarajevo.

  5. #5
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    Didn't Katraina win her second OG with just a bunch of easy triples like Toeloop, Loop and Salcow??? I could hardly call that a blowout end of era performance. Maybe end of era for easy jumps and politically influenced judging.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderlen View Post
    Didn't Katraina win her second OG with just a bunch of easy triples like Toeloop, Loop and Salcow??? I could hardly call that a blowout end of era performance. Maybe end of era for easy jumps and politically influenced judging.
    Not even a loop. 2 3toes and 2 3sals. The 'Carmen' performance itself was a regression from '87 WSS, where she landed 5 triples including a 3loop, and skated with better speed, jump layout, artistry, and attack.

    It definitely wasn't a blow-out in '88. The judges placed Manley ahead of her in the LP 7-2 I think. The door was more than open for Debi Thomas to take the Gold.

    ------------------------

    There have been many skaters who were technically better than Witt since she retired.

    There were skaters during her competitive day who were better as well. It's just none of them held it together when it counted like she did.

  7. #7
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    I agree with the others. I dont think Witt was the best skater, just the best competitor. She might be the greatest champion in a certain sense, but not the best pure skater as far as ability.

    I would say of that list it would be one of Yu Na Kim, Yamaguchi, Kwan, or Ito depending on what you value. The best actual skater of the 80s was definitely Denise Biellmann regardless of her amateur medal count being dwarfed by Witt's. If Biellmann had stayed in, had been as mentally tough as she would be in the pros (which is just a guess), and developed competent enough figures, she would have destroyed Witt in the remainder of the decade.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    I agree with the others. I dont think Witt was the best skater, just the best competitor. She might be the greatest champion in a certain sense, but not the best pure skater as far as ability.

    I would say of that list it would be one of Yu Na Kim, Yamaguchi, Kwan, or Ito depending on what you value. The best actual skater of the 80s was definitely Denise Biellmann regardless of her amateur medal count being dwarfed by Witt's. If Biellmann had stayed in, had been as mentally tough as she would be in the pros (which is just a guess), and developed competent enough figures, she would have destroyed Witt in the remainder of the decade.
    Mostly Agreed. Actually, I believe Biellmann finished decently in Figures in '81 Worlds. At any rate, in the '81 - '84 quad, Biellmann should've been able to stay ahead of Witt in the Figures. Witt was usually only finishing around 8th or so at Worlds, but bumped up to 3d by Sarajevo.

    ETA - the '81 - '84 quad is interesting: An unusual no. of top skaters retired during the quad, not waiting for Sarajevo = Claudia Kristofics Binder [AUT] - a master of figures and would've probably dominated this portion of the comp up through Sarajevo, Kristiina Wegelius [FIN] - usually strong in figures and the SP, Deborah Cottrill [GBR] - a great, athletic free skater w/ a 3 loop and pretty strong figures. Denise Biellmann [SUI] - who may have been a prohibitive favorite for Sarajevo Gold, Carola Paul [GDR] - who I believe was a strong free skater. Figure all of them competing in Sarajevo along with a healthy Elaine Zayak [USA] not injured in '83 and at her 'fighting weight', and the comp would've been much more interesting than it was. I wonder where everyone would've finished along with Witt and Sumners.
    Last edited by olympic; 03-17-2011 at 08:36 PM.

  9. #9
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    Dont forget Tracy Wainmann who many were picking as a favorite for the 84 gold when she first emerged in 1980-1981 and had already won some international events as 12 and 13 year old. Also had Elena Voderezova not had all her health problems.

    84 Olympics for ladies was strange. Kira Ivanova had been out of international competition for years and had never finished top 10 at Worlds yet wins the Olympic bronze. Manuela Rueben comes in as the European silver medalist. Elena Voderezova who had also been out for years and was a shadow of herself is in strong medal contention and probably would have medaled had she even given her usual mediocre standard of free skate performances by then. Anna Kondrashova who was a bit of unknown then also had a great shot at the bronze, and then winning silver at Worlds. Tiffany Chin who was almost an unknown coming into the season looking like the best free skater in Sarajevo to many. Claudia Leistner coming in as the World silver medalist but I think not even making the top 10.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    Dont forget Tracy Wainmann who many were picking as a favorite for the 84 gold when she first emerged in 1980-1981 and had already won some international events as 12 and 13 year old. Also had Elena Voderezova not had all her health problems.

    84 Olympics for ladies was strange. Kira Ivanova had been out of international competition for years and had never finished top 10 at Worlds yet wins the Olympic bronze. Manuela Rueben comes in as the European silver medalist. Elena Voderezova who had also been out for years and was a shadow of herself is in strong medal contention and probably would have medaled had she even given her usual mediocre standard of free skate performances by then. Anna Kondrashova who was a bit of unknown then also had a great shot at the bronze, and then winning silver at Worlds. Tiffany Chin who was almost an unknown coming into the season looking like the best free skater in Sarajevo to many. Claudia Leistner coming in as the World silver medalist but I think not even making the top 10.
    I know, in retrospect, the comp wasn't all that grand. All the top talent was retired, injured, recovering from injury, or just subpar. Hell, even a very young Midori Ito was out because she bombed JPN Nats.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    Hell, even a very young Midori Ito was out because she bombed JPN Nats.
    Ay. Out of the '84 Olympics and no trip to Worlds in 1985 due to injury. ((((Ito fans during the mid-80s))))

    I rather wish that Sumners had been able to put it all together in Sarajevo.

  12. #12
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    I voted for Michelle Kwan, who I actually think was a lot better than Katarina Witt. I would say that Yu-Na Kim is definitely a better skater than her too, and maybe some others on this list as well but I'd have to think about it some more. I watched some of Katarina's old performances and they didn't really strike me as that wonderful, although of course they weren't bad. I agree with others that say she was the best competitor if not necessarily the best skater. Of course, I have to admit that I don't really like ladies' skating from the 80s in general. It seems.. odd. I don't know how else to describe it, but I prefer the style of today. I don't mind men's and pairs performances from back then, but I don't enjoy the dance either. The dancers and ladies seem kind of wooden? somehow.. the only ladies' program from the 80s I really enjoy is Elizabeth Manley's 1988 FS, and maybe a few programs from Denise Biellman. For dance it's just T&D.

  13. #13
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    This raises an interesting question about Witt's long lasting appeal. I think a lot of ladies on the list are better than her in terms of pure skating skills. But she had a lot of charisma. She's far more charismatic than Shizuka, Yamaguchi and Ito. In fact, I don't think Shizuka had the influence or the accomplishments to be listed as one of the greats.

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    Yu-na. Bring on the 3/3 combinations...!
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  16. #16
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    Another thing to consider about Witt - In '88, Kadavy was slotted to compete just after Manley. If Kadavy had competed and skated lights out with her artistry and 2 3 loops [2x - 3l seq., 3loop - 2toe] would the judges have also placed her ahead of Witt's 'Carmen' in the LP like Manley? Or would the judges have somehow held Witt up with the 2d mark to keep the 'Battle of the Carmens' a possibility??

  17. #17
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    The interesting thing is Kadavy could not have won a medal of any color based on the factored placings going in even had she won the long program, bumping Thomas to 5th, that is unless the judges then placed Thomas 6th in the long behind Trenary (she beat Jill in the long on only a 5-4 split as it was).

    I think if Kadavy had skated her best she still would have been placed only 4th in the long program behind Manley, Witt, and Ito however. Based on the short program she had little political push behind her for that event, she was probably perceived as the #3 American even below Trenary going in. And there is no way the judges would have placed Ito or Kadavy 2nd in the long program as Manley winning the gold was an unthinkable scenario to the judges IMO, so they would make sure Witt or Thomas was 2nd in the LP even if they ceded Manley the LP that night.

    I think if Thomas had skated her best she actually would have been placed 2nd in the long program behind Manley which would have bumped Witt to bronze (and given Thomas gold overall). Of course Thomas winning the long program if she skated her best was possible too which would have atleast salvaged Witt silver.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    The interesting thing is Kadavy could not have won a medal of any color based on the factored placings going in even had she won the long program, bumping Thomas to 5th, that is unless the judges then placed Thomas 6th in the long behind Trenary (she beat Jill in the long on only a 5-4 split as it was).

    I think if Kadavy had skated her best she still would have been placed only 4th in the long program behind Manley, Witt, and Ito however. Based on the short program she had little political push behind her for that event, she was probably perceived as the #3 American even below Trenary going in. And there is no way the judges would have placed Ito or Kadavy 2nd in the long program as Manley winning the gold was an unthinkable scenario to the judges IMO, so they would make sure Witt or Thomas was 2nd in the LP even if they ceded Manley the LP that night.

    I think if Thomas had skated her best she actually would have been placed 2nd in the long program behind Manley which would have bumped Witt to bronze (and given Thomas gold overall). Of course Thomas winning the long program if she skated her best was possible too which would have atleast salvaged Witt silver.
    You make a lot of interesting points. It was pretty obvious by the SP standings that the judges slightly favored some over others when all were clean, and that Kadavy was going to be on the losing end of the stick. A shame that Thomas and Trenary were preferred because Kadavy had the overall package [of course, that was when she was 'on' and she was a bit of a headcase]. But, I liked Thomas just as much. It was also weird that even if she had a longer international history and a world medal, Trenary was preferred.

    In fact, watching youtube videos of the Kadavy's SP, you can tell by her body language she was a bit deflated in the K & C when she saw her marks. It would be interesting to know if Fassi was pushing one of Trenary or Kadavy more to the USFSA and Internationally.

  19. #19
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    I dont think Trenary was that big a favorite of the judges at the time either. She landed a triple flip combo in the short (even if very shaky) and end up only 6th in the short, and her figures placings were below people like Witt and Manley who were probably not better at figures. I think Thomas was by far the USFSA golden girl at the time, and neither Jill or Caryn had much hope other than a bronze if others imploded. Trenary was favored over Caryn since she was seen as their future. Of course nobody could forsee that figures would be eliminated altogether (though there was talk of it) and that Jill would never learn any new triples along with getting injured.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    I dont think Trenary was that big a favorite of the judges at the time either. She landed a triple flip combo in the short (even if very shaky) and end up only 6th in the short, and her figures placings were below people like Witt and Manley who were probably not better at figures. I think Thomas was by far the USFSA golden girl at the time, and neither Jill or Caryn had much hope other than a bronze if others imploded. Trenary was favored over Caryn since she was seen as their future. Of course nobody could forsee that figures would be eliminated altogether (though there was talk of it) and that Jill would never learn any new triples along with getting injured.
    I was also wondering where judges / TPTB saw Manley relative to Trenary and Kadavy. Kadavy was reigning world bronze-medalist and I remember reading published predictions for the '88 Olympic Games, which listed Witt and Thomas as gold and silver favorites, then those publications traded between Trenary and Kadavy for bronze, not mentioning Manley. I thought Manley was considered a headcase leading up to Calgary, but I could be wrong: She bombed the LP in '87 but I think she finished well in both '85 and '86 Worlds, so she was always there, just beneath the podium.

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