Well, I don't really think "too soon" is the term to use but I get what this is all about. With some of the skaters it felt like they barely competed, grabbed a gold medal at the Olympics/Worlds and then disappeared.
However, I agree with those who say that for the OGM's the motivation was missing afterwards. Sarah Hughes never expected to win, she wasn't the favorite by any means and with Michelle (and Irina?) staying eligible what chances would she have had to top the result she had at the Olympics? Sure she was the OGM but Michelle was still Michelle.
Same goes for Tara, though she wasn't in Sarah's underdog position. But I guess she asked herself the same question - could she ever top what she had done and then realized that a pro career was a smarter move. Much smarter, given her injuries which she would likely have had in an amateur career as well.
And I think Oksana was in a similar situation. And it is much nicer to skate just for the fun of it without the added stress of competition because I think pro competitions weren't as stressful and you got paid to make an appearance.
I don't think Tara would have retired had she not won gold, same goes for Sarah. Oksana, no clue.
As for Kimmie Meissner, I don't think she bowed out voluntarily, as someone else pointed out.
And in general, a world title is not the same as an Olympic Gold Medal. Yagudin might have won 4 WCs and his first world title at 18 but he didn't win Olympic Gold until 2002. Once he did, he retired. Had he burst onto the scene like Tara, won WC gold in 2001 and OG in 2002 I think he would have retired afterwards as well.
So, I don't think OG can be compared with World Gold and if you look at the "modern-day" (not the Henie days) athletes who retire after they win Olympic Gold they are probably more than those who stay eligible. Many just needed longer to achieve the goal the majority of them have than the ones listed.
Actually Oksana would have definitely stuck around had she not won the OGM in 1994. She was a relatively new skater on the scene and she was not burned out by the stress of competition, the way some older skaters may be. She was highly competitive, based on how she competed after being injured in practice at the 94 Olympics. At age 16, she would have continued for at least a couple of years, and quite possibly till the 98 Olympics.
But anyway, yeah. By the time Lulu won worlds she'd been around for 4 years, had medaled several times and had been "wuz robbed" in many people eyes to boot, so it just didn't seem at all like Oksana and Tara, winning at 14 and 15 in their first or second try.
This is also a time when a year can make a huge difference, so while the difference between 44 and 48 may seem like nothing, the difference between 14 and 18 is huge IMHO. I'm sure I'm not the only person who compares 95 worlds and 97 worlds and doesn't see two champions of same age and maturity level. There's a reason why 18 can drive and vote and smoke and hold a job, etc... and 14 can't.
So, with her "waiting her turn", being a legal adult, and then skating for 3 more years where her skating improved, I just don't see WC Chen Lu as a kid who seemingly came out of nowhere, grabbed the big prize, and then jetted from the sport, which is what this tread is about IMO.
Oksana didn't have the family structure to handle suddenly becoming famous and rich. Then to top it off she moved to the states which was so different from the Ukraine and really lost it. Nothing worse then a kid with tons of money in a country where anything goes and no guidance from the adults . It really was to much to soon for her.
Unless of course you are talking about the MEN'S event, in which case, yeah I agree. Takahashi and his 2 electrifying programs >>> Chan and his not clean SP and waxel in the FS
If the placements had been switched, I think Nancy's life probably would have gone pretty much exactly the same, but Oksana might have ended up a lot better off.
I also agree that the lack of family around was a big part of the problem. She had Viktor and Galina, and other skaters also cared, but it just wasn't the same as having her parents or grandparents around would have been.
I would have loved to see Sarah compete longer than she did. I know she stayed in one year post-OGM but it was obvious that her competitive nerve had dwindled due to her newfound status/opportunities and the feeling of having already won the big prize. She had many flaws, but she also had a lot of strengths and I often wonder how her skating would have changed under another coach/choreographer team. She certainly listened to her music and had an understanding of it, but her clunky body awareness impeded her expression. A new choreographer may have been able to overcome that, and a new coach could have possibly improved her jump technique. She had talent for sure, but when she won the OGM she was still very raw and rough around the edges in my opinion.