Nikodinov was never U.S #2. She had her chance to perhaps become at the 2001 Worlds and blew it.
If Sarah had continued on in competitive skating after the age of 18 with a coach to guide her after the "Wagner" years, she could have developed into a beautiful skater as a mature woman, like Maria Butyrskaya did, despite her flaws.
What we are criticizing here is the skating of a TEENAGER. Sarah never skated seriously as an adult. She won that OGM as an immature skater not even close to her potential for artistic skating. For her, it was child's play, and when Sarah became an adult, she went to Yale and started the process of growing up.
I think Sarah quit long before she realized her potential as a skater, professional or otherwise, or as an artist on the ice. Imagine a mature choreography on her with improved jumps as an adult. It could have been glorious.
You can't blame Robin for the unkempt, non-jumping mess that was Sarah when she appeared in SOI in 05.
Even when she appeared in a few shows two yrs ago, she wasn't jumping..not doing much of anything. If you are going to show up, "come to the yard to play..". If Nicole Bobek could get her jumps back in 8 months after her "unfortunate" life event..and Nancy Kerrigan in her 40's, mother of three..not to mention Liz Manley, Debi Thomas, Katia..to name a few, then certainly had Sarah trained, she could have..I think..She certainly had the time to train..It wasn't as if if she were walking her kindergarten class to the bus stop..
If you had asked me this in 2002, I probably would have said Sarah, and that would have been based on personality along with the skating. I was a huge Kwan fan, thought Tara looked too juniorish during her Olympic period, and even had met Sarah at 1998 Nationals and thought she a great kid who was very promising.
But taking a hard look now at the two of them, Tara was a better skater. While she had one of the worst flutzes in the book and her double axels scared the daylights out of me (she barely got off the ground), she had an amazing consistency and her triple triples were something out of this world. She also skated with great joy, always. As for Sarah, here, I was partially affected during her competition days because I simply couldn't STAND Sasha, to me Sasha was just a bunch of flexy poses along with horribly inconsistent jumps and a major attitude. (Sasha grew on me over the years, I started to really see the beauty in her skating and consider myself a fan today).
I agree with those who said Sarah had a certain maturity during her eligible days which I enjoyed - but in retrospect, her jump technique was truly awful, and the rest was really nothing to write home about. She did have a gawkiness about her at times. Most disappointing to me was 2003 - she got through at least a solid if not great Nationals, and then promptly appeared to gain some weight between Nationals and Worlds (oh, that dress that barely covered her butt in the qualifying round, that was so embarrassing) and skated the World Championships as though she'd like to be anywhere else but on that ice. I really have to tip the scales to Tara - she loved skating, it was obvious, and overall, she did far more with her skating and her competitions and took it as far as she could before injury took it out. Sarah let it near completely fall apart after her Olympics.
I think it says a lot when you watch the two of them today; Tara cannot jump because of injury, and she doesn't participate in shows aside from maybe a brief moment or two on the ice and has moved to announcing and new horizons and seems to be enjoying her life to the fullest. Sarah went for that college degree her family kept touting and has done nothing with it and now seems to want the skating fame and fortune she didn't have (or her family didn't allow in their "our daughter the academic" dream). She now looks foolish skating programs with spirals, crossovers and spins and no jumps - the average pre-preliminary level skater does far more than she does on the ice in a program. She had one, brief shining moment in 2002, and that's really all she had. And she didn't get the chance to really enjoy it or capitalize on it.
"Once you've skated together long enough, and you're really good friends, you can close your eyes, put your hand out and she's right there." Joe Dolkiewicz, 2011 US Novice Pairs Bronze Medalist
I'm a huge Tara fan and it's nice to see Tara win something on FSU for a change. A few years ago Tara skated on one of the morning show programs with no jumps and her basic skating skills were so sure with beautiful edges. Plus she always had good positions on her camel spins- she is very neat in her presentation of her elements. She doesn't have spectacular flexibility or stretch like Sasha but everything she does on the ice is neatly presented and clean looking.
Sarah on the other hand was always quite awkward looking even though she had good individual elements, like good spins, basic skating skills- she couldn't put those elements together into a cohesive presentation. Off topic, but her sister IMO was the more enjoyable skater because she was able to better minimize her weak points.
I guess some of it comes down to different tastes. I'm also a big Kwan fab and I think Michelle is certainly a superior skater to Sarah, but I personally thought Sarah had some great qualities and some things that were better, like her layback (JMHO). However, I think Peggy went a bit over the top with her, especially at 2001 Worlds when she thought Sarah's short program was better than Kwan, Slute, and Bute's.
The Kwan-Slutskaya era is weak? Can we get over this already?
I will agree that some years during their era - 2006 in particular - were an absolute mess in terms of skating quality, but when Hughes was competing she faced very stiff competition. The 2001 Worlds, in particular, was such a well-skated competition. Almost everyone skated well in the SP. All of the top 6 skaters expect for Nikodinov landed at least 6 triples in the LP, and even Nikodinov's LP wasn't at all a slack. 2004, 2010 Olympics, and 2013 were also top years in terms of Worlds/Olympics skating quality. Even in 2000, when Sarah finished fifth, the top four all skated fairly well. The last 7 years have seen much worse skating make it to the podium.
The way I see it, the Kwan-Slutskaya era was a time of better competitors, though the recent era (I suppose Asada-Kim era) is a time of better skaters. Kostner and Asada are both excellent skaters, but given their competitive record would have faired poorly during years like 2001. Skaters such as Lipinski and Hughes are not as good skaters as Kostner/Asada, but they are certainly better competitors.
This thread is
I really liked both of them. Despite my screenname, lol, Tara was and still is my all time favorite. As much as I liked Sarah, I did think she was awkward sometimes and her choreography was cheesy at times. I blame Robin for that, haha. But she did have more complex choreography than Tara.
And one thing I like about both is their nerves of steel! I really like Sasha, Angela, and Alissa but man they made me so nervous!
2000 worlds- winner had 7 triples and a 3/3
2001 worlds winner had 7 triples and a 3/3
2002 olympics winner had 7 triples and two 3/3
2002 worlds winner had 6 triples and no 3/3
2003-6 triples and no 3/3
2004-7 triples and (2?) 3/3
2005-7 triples and a 3/3
In nearly all of those examples, Kwan and Slute were the top skaters. They were remarkable skaters. I miss them. Their competition? Not so remarkable. Worlds was usually great. The other 99% of the competitions every season were often a bore and poorly skated from second place down because their competition stunk.
When I look at the 90-92 era and how Yamaguchi had to arrive at the Olympics with a 7 triple long program with a 3Z-3T to have a shot at beating Ito and Harding, if they skated clean, then yes, the Kwan/Slute era seems weak.
To bring the conversation back to Hughes and Lipinski, given their hunger to win, it would have been interesting to see what tricks they might have had up their sleeves if they'd been in Yamaguchi's skated and been forced to compete against jumpers like Ito and Harding.