Interesting observations by both. I had not thought about it, but that seems to be the case when it comes to an OGM. It means Sarah Hughes' bronze at the 2001 worlds was HUGE. Without it, she may not have won the OGM in 2002.
I definitely feel if Hughes had finished 4th at the 2001 Worlds behind Butyrskaya (should have) or Nikidinov (would have if Angela didnt lose her mind for the last minute of her program) she would not have won the Olympic Gold in SLC. She would have won the bronze behind Slutskaya and Kwan with either a 2nd or 3rd place finish in the LP, and a lower than 4th place finish in the SP.
So, in percentage terms, to what extent does winning a medal at the last world championships before an Olympic games boost a skaters chances of winning an Olympic medal? From what Sarah Hughes is saying in the article, it evidently mattered a lot in terms of recognition as a contender, and in terms of her confidence. However, with others it seemed to have not mattered at all. For example, prior to winning a Silver medal at the 1992 Olympics, Paul Wylie had never finished any higher than 9th at a World Championships.
At a guess, I would say that Denis Tan's confidence has been boosted immeasurably this week.