1996 Worlds bronze
1997 Grand Prix final gold (or silver)
1997 Worlds bronze
1998 Olympics bronze
1998 Worlds silver
2000 Worlds gold
2000 NHK gold
2001 Grand Prix final gold (based on how she skates winning NHK)
2001 Worlds gold
2002 Olympic gold (based on how she skates if she didnt quit after robbed in short)
I am not sure whether you are referring to SLC or the 2002 Worlds. However SLC the obvious reason she was placed ahead of Kwan in the LP was Kwan having a fall, although Irina's performance with glaring mistakes, less clean triples than Hughes, Kwan, or even Cohen, and all its other flaws, could easily have been placed lower all the same. At the 2002 Worlds, well the short program results guaranteed Irina winning whether she or Kwan won the LP was irrelevant, so they probably gave her the LP when both skated about the same as a cherry on top and to give her inevitable win a bit more glow.
Irina is definitely in general an overscored and overrated skater though, the same way Maria is an underscored and underrated one. It all cames down to the strength of the Russian fed. and who they prefer.
I meant silver or bronze at the 2001 Worlds. I put gold in the poll by accident but if you read my opening post you will see that is not what I meant. I would have put Maria 4th in her qualifying round for her bad skate as she was. However I had her 2nd in the short behind Irina, even though Michelle and Angela had excellent shorts too so 4th could be justified, not 5th behind Hughes. I had her 2nd in the long over Irina, and Irina only 4th in the long since her long was horrible there. With those placements Maria could have even won silver overall, although I would have been fine with bronze too. 4th behind Hughes, no way.
Irina with less clean triples than Kwan? Certainly not. Irina had six triples with one bad landing and Kwan had 5 clean triples. I don't remember how many clean triples Cohen had but I doubt it was more than 5 (I think like Kwan she had one fall and one two-foot).
Hughes had 2-4 clean triples depending how harsh you are on underrotation.
The thing that bothered me in 2001 & 2002 was the coltish Hughes being placed ahead of the mature Maria. It's not like Maria was falling on the jumps, and Hughes jumps were almost always flawed. She did a nice layback, but that's about it where spins are concerned.
She attempted a 7 triples program including a 3Lz/3Toe, but fell on the 3Toe.
Of course, both Lutz were Flutz, and the fall on the 3Lz/3T combo was because the 3T was underrotated.
People forget had Maria won that NHK over Irina she would have been the only women unbeaten in the grand prix. Michelle had already lost to Irina, and Irina would then have lost to Maria. Maria would have won all 3 of her events, Irina 2 of 3, Michelle only 1. Imagine how much more momentum and boost that might have given her, which is what I was thinking with some of my poll options.