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  1. #1

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    Eligible vs. Pro careers for past skaters

    We don't see many skaters turn pro at a young age these days, but in the 1980s and 90s and may be a bit into the 21st century too, skaters had good careers as pros. Some did clearly better or worse than when they were eligible skaters.

    The lists below are clearly incomplete because it's hard to list every skater that has retired/turned pro, but here is my best effort.

    Group A: Some skaters have been much more successful as pros than they were as eligible skaters.

    Group B: Some have been less successful (particularly when compared with their eligible accomplishments)

    Group C: Successful in both eligible and pro careers

    (I am primarily looking at the times when we had real 'pro' competitions, but other- non-competition- aspects can be considered too for skater that did not get to compete in the pro competitions).

    Group A: (More successful as pros)

    Yuka Sato
    Caryn Kadavy
    Surya Bonaly
    Dan Hollander (he found his nitch- comedy)
    Paul Wylie (he did win the Olympic silver, but he really blossomed as a pro)
    Rudy Galindo

    Bechke & Petrov
    Underhill-Martini
    Ina-Zimmerman
    Punsalan-Swallow
    Annenko & Sretenski
    Rocca & Sur


    Group B: (less successful as pros)

    Oksana Baiul
    Sarah Hughes
    Tara Lipinski (injuries ended her career)
    Maria Butyrskaya (actually, not sure where to put her)
    Alexei Urmanov

    Valova-Vassiliev
    Mishkutenok-Dmitriev
    Bestemianova-Bukin
    Anissina-Peizerat
    Selezneva-Makarov



    Group C: (Successful in both)- it's tough to capture them all, because there were so many of them.

    Brian Boitano
    Brian Orser
    Robin Cousins
    Ilia Kulik (not many pro competitions though)
    Kurt Browning
    Viktor Petrenko (although I did not care for many of his pro routines)
    Todd Eldredge (no pro competitions but he developed artistically)
    Yagudin


    Kristi Yamaguchi
    Gordeeva-Grinkov
    Sasha Cohen (no pro competitions but she was a great draw on tours)
    Midori Ito
    Debbie Thomas
    Irina Slutskaya


    Gordeeva-Grinkov
    Kazakova-Dmitriev
    Kitty & Peter Carruther
    Klimova-Ponomarenko
    Torville-Dean

  2. #2
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    What I absolutely love about he 90s is that there actually was a group A. Before that, if you didn't do well in eligible comp, you basically didn't have a pro career, never mind a good one.

    One sad addition to group b is Chen Lu. One. Of my absolute favs from the 90s, and sadly completely unwatchable as a pro.

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    I dont think Selezneva & Makarov belong in the less successful as pros category. They had numerous top 3 finishes in major pro competitions such as the World Pros and Challenge of Champions, including some 2nds. They never won a major amateur event either, unless you count the Europeans, but both years they won G&G didnt skate when at the time they were the team to beat. If anything they were perhaps slightly better in pros, they beat a few teams they had trouble ever beating as amateurs.

    I think Anissina & Peizerat did fine as pros. They were a big draw in Europe and were welcome by Champions on Ice in the States whenever they wanted to skate. There were no pro competitions, especialy for dancers, by then.

    Katarina Witt easily falls into the less successful in pros category. Her only appearances at the World Professional Skating Championships netted a last place finish each time. She also finished last at every Gold Championships contested. She never won any major pro title, and very very rarely a pro competition of any ilk.

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    I don't really care about pro competitions so no comment on that. For me the best pro career was Klimova & Ponomorenko, because they grew artistically and had so many gorgeous routines. Kazakova & Dmitriev and Gordeeva & Grinkov (I don't care for their eligible routines, but their pro stuff was brilliant) fall into this category as well. Oh, and Jeff Buttle - I was a complete hater when he won Worlds, but he won me over as a pro.

    I do wish they would bring back serious pro competitions, not because of the competition part, but because the skaters took them seriously and created quality programs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherub721 View Post

    I do wish they would bring back serious pro competitions, not because of the competition part, but because the skaters took them seriously and created quality programs.
    Me too. I miss the 90s/early 2000s so much when there actually were professional skating events and competitions. Not only did the professional competitions allow skaters like G&G, B&P, K&D, etc. to grow artistically, we also got to see pairs like L&K, that we would probably not have been able to see normally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by berthesghost View Post
    What I absolutely love about he 90s is that there actually was a group A. Before that, if you didn't do well in eligible comp, you basically didn't have a pro career, never mind a good one.

    One sad addition to group b is Chen Lu. One. Of my absolute favs from the 90s, and sadly completely unwatchable as a pro.
    Agree completely. What happened to Chen Lu that he professional skating career seemed so brief? Was she injured? Was it just a lack of opportunities? I don't recall. I loved her skating as a competitor but have zero recollection of her as a pro.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    I dont think Selezneva & Makarov belong in the less successful as pros category. They had numerous top 3 finishes in major pro competitions such as the World Pros and Challenge of Champions, including some 2nds. They never won a major amateur event either, unless you count the Europeans, but both years they won G&G didnt skate when at the time they were the team to beat. If anything they were perhaps slightly better in pros, they beat a few teams they had trouble ever beating as amateurs.

    I think Anissina & Peizerat did fine as pros. They were a big draw in Europe and were welcome by Champions on Ice in the States whenever they wanted to skate. There were no pro competitions, especialy for dancers, by then.

    Katarina Witt easily falls into the less successful in pros category. Her only appearances at the World Professional Skating Championships netted a last place finish each time. She also finished last at every Gold Championships contested. She never won any major pro title, and very very rarely a pro competition of any ilk.
    I agree about Kat Witt. She often placed second or third (usually third) in the pros.

    Not having pro competitions hurt A&P. It also hurt that they were mentioned in the judging controversy of the 2002 Olys, so they did not skate in the USA until later. I think they were skating in Europe though.

    I loved Selezneva-Makarov's pro routine 'Money makes the world go round'- the humor and the creativity in it. However, I hardly ever saw them as pros. May be it was before my time. They were overshadowed by G&G as both eligible and pro skaters.

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    It was tough to win a pro event for pairs in the early to mid 90s when S&M competed. Gordeeva & Grinkov or Underhill & Martini won every pro event there was it seemed, so you had 2 pairs dominating, nearly impossible for anyone else to win until the late 90s when Sergei's tragic death and U&M were getting old. U&M were a bit overrated in pros I felt, but TPTB held them in huge regard.

    Witt would only come 2nd or 3rd in pro events there were 3 womens normally. In larger fields of 4-8 women that I saw she usually came 4th, 5th, or even 6th. She didnt compete hardly any as a pro in the 88-92 period though, that is probably when she would have won alot of pro events.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vash01 View Post

    I loved Selezneva-Makarov's pro routine 'Money makes the world go round'- the humor and the creativity in it. However, I hardly ever saw them as pros. May be it was before my time. They were overshadowed by G&G as both eligible and pro skaters.
    I hope it's on youtube. I lurve Selezneva & Makarov, they were so interesting to watch and so unique. Their Michael Jackson SP is one of my all time favorites.

    V&V might have been less succesful as professionals, but I really enjoyed their "Swan Lake" program where Elena is wearing one skate and one slipper.

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    Witt's technical content as a pro was just a 2A and then a 3t. Those would've been enough if she was competing as a pro only against Roz, Zayak, Hamill, Fratianne and Chin, but not against the likes of Biellman, Yamaguchi and Sato.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherub721 View Post
    I don't really care about pro competitions so no comment on that. For me the best pro career was Klimova & Ponomorenko, because they grew artistically and had so many gorgeous routines. Kazakova & Dmitriev and Gordeeva & Grinkov (I don't care for their eligible routines, but their pro stuff was brilliant) fall into this category as well. Oh, and Jeff Buttle - I was a complete hater when he won Worlds, but he won me over as a pro.

    I do wish they would bring back serious pro competitions, not because of the competition part, but because the skaters took them seriously and created quality programs.
    ITA with you about K&P, G&G, and K&D; I'm not as familiar with Buttle's pro routines.

    As much as I appreciated G&G's textbook skills & talent, I thought most of their eligible routines were pretty meh. I did really love R&J (just figure, that's the season where Katia is dealing with her growth spurt ). But as professionals... wow. "Reverie" "The Man I Love" "Out of Tears" and especially, "Requiem" Requiem is still one of the best professional routines ever skated.

    I'm not sure where to put K&D, because in a way, I feel, despite the OGM, I felt they were better as pro skaters than as eligible skaters. Or put it this way, I personally prefer their pro routines, to their eligible routines. Oksana, became much more relaxed and confident and I think that was reflected in their skating. Especially in their "Fly Me To The Moon" program.

    About K&P, I felt they were already taking their artistry to another level with their 1992 FD and they kept the trend as professionals.

    Speaking of ice dancers, what about G&P or U&Z (or for that matter, G&Z and U&P)? G&P and U&Z are my two favorite ice dance couples, but I can't remember anything about their pro routines. In fact the only thing I remember is the infamous partner switch. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

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    Don't forget Vocalise, Sheherazade, and Pagliacci for G&G. I liked the R&J LP because of their lines and musicality to such pretty music, but it also had no transitions at all, like their other eligible programs.

    K&D were just great; even their half assed routines when Artur was fat were filled with emotion and good tricks. My faves are Sculptor & Muse and Matrix.

    G&P pretty much didn't have any. They did Frozen on the COI tour in 1998 (link says 1997 but I think that's wrong) and then this routine in 2006. That's it as far as I know! What a shame. Grishuk & Zhulin were pretty voidy.

    I found U&Z blah in pros... they were already divorced and IMO, just going through the motions. The most painful number was Love Story, complete with balloon. The one that really captures their voids is The Young Man and Death... love that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherub721 View Post
    Don't forget Vocalise, Sheherazade, and Pagliacci for G&G. I liked the R&J LP because of their lines and musicality to such pretty music, but it also had no transitions at all, like their other eligible programs.

    K&D were just great; even their half assed routines when Artur was fat were filled with emotion and good tricks. My faves are Sculptor & Muse and Matrix.

    G&P pretty much didn't have any. They did Frozen on the COI tour in 1998 (link says 1997 but I think that's wrong) and then this routine in 2006. That's it as far as I know! What a shame. Grishuk & Zhulin were pretty voidy.

    I found U&Z blah in pros... they were already divorced and IMO, just going through the motions. The most painful number was Love Story, complete with balloon. The one that really captures their voids is The Young Man and Death... love that.
    Thanks Cher!

    Ah, Vocalise, can't believe I forgot about that one! For some reason, and I haven't seen the program in a while, I thought the Romeo & Juliet program had more transitions than a typical G&G eligible program? Maybe I loved the costumes & music so much I just convinced myself that they had transitions.

    Oh K&D, I also really liked "Charade" "Fly Me To the Moon" and "The Matrix." Even with Artur packing the pounds, their half-ass routines were still more entertaining than a lot of other skaters actually trying. It would have to imagine what kind of performances they would have been able to create if he had managed to stay in shape.

    I'm at U&Z performing to "Love Story." It's almost like a snarky inside joke. Not being familiar with the actual movie is ther a purpose to the balloon in the program? Or, is it just a prop?

    The Young Man and Death is so voidy. I really liked it!

    I like the "Vogue"esque moves in G&Z's "Enigma." The program is so weird, I kind of like it.

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    I don't know about the balloon, but I love that Sandra thought it was a beautiful program to Love Story... she is consistent!

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    Quote Originally Posted by berthesghost View Post
    What I absolutely love about he 90s is that there actually was a group A. Before that, if you didn't do well in eligible comp, you basically didn't have a pro career, never mind a good one.

    One sad addition to group b is Chen Lu. One. Of my absolute favs from the 90s, and sadly completely unwatchable as a pro.
    I kind of felt like those less successful skaters got a pro career if and only if they happened to be friends with Scott Hamilton or Brian Boitano. Petr Barna and Josef Sabovcik had more or less equivalent amateur careers, though Sabovcik has one more European title. However, Jumpin Joe happened to be friends with Scott, as well as Toller Cranston so he got the invites.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yehudi View Post
    I kind of felt like those less successful skaters got a pro career if and only if they happened to be friends with Scott Hamilton or Brian Boitano. Petr Barna and Josef Sabovcik had more or less equivalent amateur careers, though Sabovcik has one more European title. However, Jumpin Joe happened to be friends with Scott, as well as Toller Cranston so he got the invites.
    I agree about Josef S. Another example of this is Steven Cousins. He never came close to winning a world medal, but Hamilton liked him so he had a great pro career. I never cared for his skating, but he has been touring for many years now.

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    I think a personal favourite of mine, Shawn Sawyer, is doing better as a pro than an eligible. Joannie Rochette too. She was good as an eligible of course, but her pro routines are just more appealing to me.

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    Group A:

    Hartshorn/Sweiding (Did they even compete as amatuers?)
    Leonova & Khvalko (Same?)
    Lang/Tchernychev
    Michael Weiss
    Silvia Fontana
    Caryn Kadavy

    Group B:

    Takeshi Honda
    Delobel & Schoenfelder
    Belbin & Agosto
    Gregory & Petukhov (due to injury)
    Shen & Zhao
    Alexander Abt
    Abitbol & Bernadis
    Duchesnay & Duchesnay
    Woetzel & Steuer
    Fusar-Poli & Margaglio
    Grushina & Goncharov
    Irina Slutskaya
    Josee Chouinard

    Group C:

    Stephane Lambiel
    Elvis Stojko
    Philippe Candelore
    Denkova & Staviyski

  19. #19
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    Toller Cranston had a wonderful pro career after winning only 1 world medal and Olympic medal (both bronze). That said, he revolutionised mens free skating so his amateur impact was much greater than his competitive record might suggest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by floskate View Post
    Toller Cranston had a wonderful pro career after winning only 1 world medal and Olympic medal (both bronze). That said, he revolutionised mens free skating so his amateur impact was much greater than his competitive record might suggest.
    This!
    Cranston's impact on FS in general was huge, also as a pro and as an analyst of the scene.

    I'd like to ask: what's "a good career as pro"?
    Having read the first posts of this thread, I thought it was all about medals and "successful" meaning just winning. There's more to a career than (gold)medals, especially with the professionals. When a skater doesn't compete/ranks low in pro competitions but shows incredible routines in shows, exhibitions or even movies, has a lot of fans and becomes well known as commentator/author/coach/choreographer you name it, it all adds to a successful pro career IMO.

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