Kim Yu Na
I would say 'None of the above', had that been an option. I think at the time they skated, they had to compete against some tough skaters. Since the sport has grown, we cannot compare the level of competition in the two eras.
On another note, I was amused by the number of misspellings of skaters' names in the poll, even simple ones: like Sumner was spelled Summer and Trixie Schuba as Trixi Schubert. I admit that I am not perfect, however. I have difficulty with Annette P.'s (I still forget how to spell it correctly, and am usually too lazy to look it up)
The Poetzsch era is way underrated on this poll. She should be leading the poll for sure, and she is about to slip into 3rd place. I mean Poetzsch herself sort of sucked, and she dominated, so what does that tell you. I would give her a pass if she was this amazing figures specialist like Trixi Schuba and Peggy Fleming (with Peggy being an absolutely fab free skater too) but she clearly wasnt. One just has to look at the marks she attained in figures compared to those others, and while she was obviously great at them and the best of her era which is the only thing her wins came from, she was no out of the world figures great like those others were either.
Michelle Kwan was the first lady who popped into my head but I thought her fans (even though I'm a fan) would get pissy. Now I see others feel the same way. She had really weak competition until Tara for 1.5 years (except for Lu Chen's glorious 96 worlds skate that should have won) and then extremely weak competition until Slute's comeback in 2000. There was one competition (Skate Canada?) where I think she only landed 4 triples and still won because the nearest competitor only landed 1. That summed up her competition for those 3 years.
Oksana's main rival was Nancy Kerrigan how on earth is Michelle Kwan ahead of her? LOL.
Michelle's main rivals (Tara, Irina, Sarah, Maria, Sasha) were either all world champions or Olympic Gold Medalists (with the exception of Sasha).
Oksana did not compete against any Olympic Gold Medalists or World Champions...or if she did I cannot think of anyone...
Michelle Kwan seems to inspire the two extremes on this forum. She also won the toughest competition ever poll which was also a joke. She certainly didnt have either the weakest or toughest competition of any lady, something in between. Yet she wins both the toughest and weakest competition polls on this forum somehow.
I agree Baiul had weak competition in a sense, but still the 93 Worlds was superbly skated, and the 94 Olympics had alot of contenders. Basically though there were alot of very strong skaters, like 5 or 6 at once, but not one standout great skater (although Baiul was hyped as that at the time). The Kwan often often had poor depth but 1 really strong opponent at a time, so I am not sure entirely how to compare them. Poetzsch by far is weaker than both though, and Hamill and Fleming I would rate 2nd and 3rd as having the poorest competition though. I suspect they dont have many votes since people just dont remember those eras much but Hamill's main competition was Errath and DeLeeuw. Fleming only faced a pre prime Seyfert and Noyes.
I find it amazing Kim had any votes, let alone sitting 6th on this poll. She probably had the toughest competition of any women ever.
Also interesting Yamaguchi doesnt have a single vote yet. She wouldnt be my choice, but I am kind of amazed after 150 votes she would be the only one with none. These were her major amateur titles:
1991 Worlds- none of her main competitors- Ito, Harding, Yamaguchi, landed more than 4 triples that night, although Harding had a triple axel.
1992 Olympics- splatfest. With Harding and Ito placing 6th and 4th in the short, and Kerrigan never landing more than 4 triples in the long back then, she was guaranteed gold before the long even began.
1992 Worlds- total crapfest, one of the worst events ever. For the flak Baiul gets for weak competition the overall standard of the 93 Worlds and even 94 Olympics was MUCH higher than the 92 Worlds or even 92 Olympics probably.
Yamaguchi though had the potential of being beaten any time either Ito or Harding stepped on the ice. Of course Kristi used her consistency (and perceived better artistry) to her advantage to beat them. Also women were just starting to do 6 or 7 triple LPs around then and Ito and Harding were just too inconsistent even after figures ended. That being said you are right about 92 worlds in retrospect. It was a huge disaster with the exception of Yamaguchi and a very young Lu Chen.
It is clear in retrospect Ito was past her amateur prime slightly by 91-92 but she could not cope with a slew of bad luck (91 Worlds) and a horde of media pressure (92 Olympics). Harding was great and tough competition for Kristi in 91 (including the 91 fall early 91-92 season), but after that pffttt. Anyway Kristi didnt even have a long time as an amateur at or near the top due to figures and her early retirement, so it is hard to evaluate her "competition" too much one way or the other. She certainly had potential to have strong competition, but not sure it often materialized. The 92 Olympic ladies event could have been the greatest ever if Kristi, Tonya, and Midori had all skated even reasonably well (even if all or none wasnt perfect) but arguably none of them did (not even Kristi who easily won with one of her worst LPs ever probably).
As I said though I wouldnt have voted for her. Like Kwan I see her somewhat mid pack as far as toughest competition goes, not near the top, not near the bottom. Just found it funny she would end up the only one with no votes this far in.
I don't even think Tara should count as good competition for Michelle or anyone else. She should have remained in the juniors another two years at least until 1998. What I mean is her performances in 1996 and 1997 would have been considered athletically limited and unsophisticated in prior and later years. Her jumps were so tiny and her skating so child like-- albeit precocious, charming and rife with energy--that it reflects poorly on the state of the rest of Michelle's competition. That they elevated a 14 year old going on 6 so quickly to rival status shows there was a vacuum. There was no one else, and Tara was a pro at capitalizing on her strengths. Thanks partly to Sandra Bezic, Lipinski willed herself to be accepted by judges who may have been looking for a rival--any rival-- for Kwan. I do think in 1997, 1998, and 1999, Kwan had limited competition. She had Slutskaya in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and she at least had Sasha in 2003. So the second part of her career was more contested.
Last edited by TheIronLady; 06-08-2013 at 10:40 AM.
I actually enjoyed Tara's skating more than Irina's. It was indeed juniorish but it was lively and fun. I think Tara and Irina had some of the best competitive mindsets and were really good at capitalizing their strengths. These were two qualities that made them tough rivals to Michelle, especially under 6.0, when consistency was the key to winning. I think Kristi and Yuna had rivals who were overall better skaters and had more potential but Tara and Irina were better competitors.