Even skaters I like, I often find new things about their skating to appreciate that I haven't notice before:
Virtue & Moir: I was slow on the uptake, probably because they (and D&W) are so popular...(which I realize says a lot more about me than it does about either V&M or D&W) but their Carmen program has made me a full fledged fan. I can't wait to see how this program grows over the season.
Gordeeva & Grinkov: Always respected them and their technical abilities (seriously how many other pairs have made such a seamless transition from the junior rankings to the senior rankings?) and while I have mixed feelings about their eligible programs, their professional programs are among my all time favorite: Out of Tears, Requiem, Scheherazade, Vocalise-absolutely stunning programs... I love their 'chair lift' as well. But even when I don't care for their choreography, their skating and pairs skills were always top notch, and that's always something to appreciate.
Kazakova & Dmitriev: I have a tendency to compare them to M&D, instead of appreciating them for their own strengths. As I mentioned in the other thread, Oksana really grew as a professional skater, they also had gorgeous lifts, unique moves-not all of them originally M&D moves either and excellent on ice chemistry, different from the intense, brooding, fire/ice chemistry M&D had, but it worked for them. As much as I lurve M&D and would have loved to have seen them skate as professionals/eligible or whatever after 1994, I'm not sure if they would have been able to pull off a conventional, sweet program like "Somewhere Out There" the way K&D could. Yet, K&D could also bring on the drama-Spente Le Stelle, and their Matrix routine is one of the most innovative skating programs.
TT&MM: Similar to G&G, always appreciated their skills (I think they were perhaps among the most consistant solid, technically excellent and athletic pairs out there), but never really *got them until their stunningly gorgeous Ave Maria SP. Looking back at their career, I impressed with the transitions and connecting steps in their Cotton Club LP, and their Olympic programs. This is one pair I really wish those of us in North America could see more of as professionals.
And as corny as it sounds... all skaters. Seriously, while there are always skaters who are going to bore me to tears and who I am just not going to *get* I appreciate the hard work, sacrifice, commitment, skills and if you are a female pairs partner-fearlessness, it takes to be involved in this sport. I appreciate skaters such as Plushenko, Petrenko, Browning, Boitano, Stojko, Candeloro, Eldridge, Shen & Zhao and their longevity in the sport, skaters like Kulik who maintain their technical skills and continue to grow as professional skaters. But as someone who has dabled in skating at my local rink, I also learned appreciate the skaters what most of us, even hard core fans, never hear of. I think it takes a lot to put yourself out there on and perform in front of an audience.
I wanted to limit myself to pairs/dance for right now, or else my post would get too long (too late!), but when it comes to appreciation, I have to give major props to my favorite female skater-Midori Ito for coming back as an adult skater.
What skaters have you learned to appreciate over the years?