In terms of spiral extensions, posture, drama and spins- it is Sasha Cohen.
But in terms of overall skating... it is a no brainer, it is Michelle Kwan! Michelle Kwan is one of the greats, if not the greatest skater who ever lived!
I once heard someone say Cohen's only weaknesses were jumping and basic skating. Those are like the two most important things in the sport though, so that already is a huge minus for her. It does show how great she was in many other things she even could achieve what she did, but she can never compare to the truly greatest with weak jumps, weak basic skating, and horrible consistency and being a poor competitor.
I agree with this, and will add that Lyra (though I disliked the music), Ariane, and SOTBS didn't give her much to hide behind, either. She performed each of these programs cleanly at least once, and all were 7 triple programs. I would say she gave absolutely spellbinding performances to at least three of those programs.Red Violin was so unique b/c there isn't a lot of music to hide behind.
Sasha was very bendy, but her hyperextension looked stiff and forced to me, and the line she created seemed static-Her spiral shortened her line instead of creating a long, dynamic line such as Kwan achieved. Watch the feet and you will see the true story. her feet are wobbly and unsure most of the time.
Sasha did a great job and had a wonderful career, but I would put her way below Kwan, Slutskaya, and Arakawa, closer to but still behind Butyrskaya, and more on a level with Sarah Hughes and Jenny Kirk. Simply put, she has weak feet. I always found it curious when she was compared to a ballerina because she was so stiff, hyper extended, and had such crummy feet. Toe point is all fine and dandy, but there's more to feet than point.
Yuka Sato had brilliant feet. Good god, she could turn one into a foot fetishist.
I dont think as great as she is Sasha could have pulled off Red Violin, atleast not the way Kwan did.
I personally found Sasha's musical interpretation to be a little shallow and at times unconvincing, but I know many others disagree vigorously.
Sasha became way better in choreography and musical intpretation when she began working with Tarasova. Actually I think she went down a bit again once she left her.