Yamaguchi & Galindo
In honor of Rudi's induction into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, a thread about the two-time U.S. Pairs Champions, Kristi Yamaguchi & Rudi Galindo. One of the big "what-ifs" in U.S. figure skating, is what sort of success Kristi & Rudi would have had on the international stage had they focused exclusively on pairs skating.
Although both obviously achieved greater success and acclaim as single skaters, and are best known for their single skating, I really enjoy watching videos of this pair. They were unique in so many ways. For one, unlike many (if not most ?) of the top pairs at the time, there wasn't that much of a height gap between Kristi & Rudi. Yet, that didn't (from what I could see) negatively impact their ability to perform complex lifts-in fact their U.S. Nationals LP features a lift with 4 different changes of position. They spun & jumped in opposite directions, making them one of the few "mirror pairs" out there. Finally, they were both superb single skaters, which allowed them to perform not just sbs triple toe loops, but the even more difficult sbs triple flips, and even a 3-3 jumping sequence in their routines.
In addition to their unique qualities as a pair team, outstanding jumping ability, good lifts, they also had excellent death spirals, featuring unique entries-such as Rudi changing edges during the death spiral entrance.
Kristi & Rudi won two titles as U.S. National Pairs Champions and the 1988 World Junior Pairs Champions.
1990 U.S. Nationals LP
1989 U.S. Nationals LP
1988 World Jrs. LP
1987 World Jrs. LP
1986 Skate America LP
Much as I respect both of them, and enjoyed their pair skating, mirror pairs have not usually been well-rewarded by international judges. Plus a lack of height difference makes it hard to achieve the "wow" factor in throws, lifts and twists.
They accomplished a lot as a pair (5th at worlds), but to reach the very top, i.e. world medalist level, or potentially World/Olympic gold, It's really necessary IMO to pick one discipline and focus on it. I totally understood the split and the focus on singles, which was the stronger discipline for both of them, in my view.
Nonetheless, I have good memories of them as a pair.
I like the idea that mirror pairs made Yamaguchi & Galindo stand out from the crowd, and there was one jumping pass during the 1990 U.S. National LP that was just an absolute beaut., but after seeing so many pairs jump in the same direction, seeing a pair jump in opposite direction is a bit jarring-for lack of a better word, at first.
Originally Posted by flowerpower
My problem with gorilla/flea pairs is that they usually lack synchronicity. The large men do not have the smooth lines and flexibility of their small partners and often look silly attempting catch foot spirals and Y-spins. The tiny women have low quick side by side jumps compared to their bigger partners. They are great at adagio skating though.
Funny that in Yamaguchi&Galindo pair, Rudy was more flexible than Kristi !
Originally Posted by aliceanne
I disagree that you cannot have a "wow" factor without the height difference. Obviously the difference is preferred since that makes it easier for the man to throw his partner, but it is not necessary. Babilonia-Gardner were nearly same height, yet that did not bother me (I only watched them long after they had retired, so mostly pros). Actually just the other day when I watched them on yt, Tai's long legs created a great picture in a lift.
Originally Posted by flowerpower
Others that did not have a huge height difference: Shen & Zhao. They had "wow" lifts and throws. When you consider Shishkova-Naumov, he was nowhere as tall as other Russian pairs partners. The reason Y&G did not have the "wow" factor was more due to how little time they had spent together; they were not as developed as other pairs teams. Even Tamara Moskvina complimented them by saying (paraphrasing) in 1989 that she was afraid of this pair, because they would develop very quickly. Unfortunately they split too quickly.
Kristi just tweeted this old pic of her and Rudi back when they were skating together.
I think they would have done very well if they'd continued because of the difficulty of their jumps alone. Their other elements, while not being "wow", were definitely competitive with the other teams at the time. They would have been competing against G/G then, who while being gorilla/flea, had incredible unison and the "wow" factor, so they probably would not have been on top of the podium, but I think they would have been podium material for sure. We will never know, but I enjoyed them when they were together.
Thanks for the link WildRose. Rudi is also coaching one of Kristi's daughters.
Originally Posted by WildRose