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  1. #1
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    How would Yamaguchi fare in Nagano 98?

    All this talk about how G&G would do skating in Nagano got me wondering about another old skater who kept up her skills for many years. Kristi Yamaguchi of course was in no way contemplating of competing in 98, seeing as she didn't take the opportunity to do so in Lillehammer. But looking at her performances from even one year before the Nagano games (97 Challenge of Champions and World pros) Kristi was still the landing the Lutz and flip. She had skated a SP that was ISU style against Kwan a year or so before then. So in the SP she capable of doing all the skills Kwan, Bobek, Lipinski, Chen, Bute and Slute. In the LP I think she could have beaten Bobek who skated so-so to place 3rd at Nats. At the Olympics Chen was beautiful but did have errors, and Bute no had no 3/3.

    Of course Kristi was much older and may not have been able to take the pounding of amateur competition, and she would have needed to get back her 3/3 from 92 to have hopes for gold over Lipinski and an essentially perfect skate by Kwan for silver even without a 3/3. So is it conceivable she could have been fighting for the bronze in Nagano if she had come back?

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    Yeah she would've won Bronze and Sports Illustrated prediction of an American sweep would've been right! They predicted Bobek winning bronze and if Yamaguchi had made the team it may even had been more than bronze! I don't know how bad her salchow problem would've hurt her and that may have been a problem but still. Shed been doing the lutz and flip so she would've been totally on medal wavelength.

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    I am almost confident that Yamaguchi would have retained her triple lutz triple toe combo, and if skated clean with all other triples (including the sal), she could very well have been in the mix for gold. Perhaps it would have depended on results from 1997 had she competed the year prior, and the 97-98 grand prix season as well, but gold would not be impossible, although she would have had to do better than what she did in 92 to even have a chance at that (meaning both the loop and sal would have had to been there).

    One thing to note, it was the triple loop, triple loop (on top of the triple toe triple sal sequence) that allowed Tara to beat Kwan, and I think Triple lutz triple toe would have allowed Kristi to do the same.

    It would be a tough decision, but certainly a medal contender at worst. Without the triple lutz triple toe, I could see her still on the podium with the bronze if she skated clean/close to perfect.

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    Bronze, at best. Tara and Michelle were close to perfection and they were both better skaters than Kristi to begin with.

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    Yamaguchi's 3F because inconsistent based on available footage from 1997-2000 and there were virtually no 3Lp attempts. However, there is footage of her performing 3Lz, 3F, 3Lp, 3T, 2A over two programs in one night in 2001. Based on that, I don't see her doing well in Nagano. It is important to note Kristi is about a year older than Maria, who was just holding it together to prove others wrong, and Kristi did not have that kind of motivation.
    Last edited by bardtoob; 07-09-2013 at 06:34 AM.

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    I'm not sure if Lipinski was better technically than Yamaguchi. both FLutzed, did not have big jumps, but the rest of their jumps are pretty similar. Kristi had by far a better axel, and Lipinski a better salchow. Spins , footwork, and spirals very strong area for Yamaguchi, and artistically she blew Lipinski out of the water. That being said I don't think she would have been in contention to beat her unless she brought back her triple/triple from 92, which she may or may not have been able to do at that point. As for Kwan she was argubaly at her peak, so unless Yamaguchi nailed her salchow along with the other triples she would be fighting for 3rd against Chen and Bute who were very beatable that particular year.

    As for Yamaguchis 3F I think the last time she landed it was in 97, although I forgot she did come back to compete against Sato in a worlds pros in 01. She really competed less in the pro competitions from 98-00 if I remember correctly.

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    I think she would have won the bronze. I dont think she would have won gold or silver since by then she probably would have done well to manage 5 triples, and I think a triple lutz-triple to at age 26 would be unlikely. She may have placed 1st or 2nd in the short, but then dropped to 3rd in the long. I am pretty sure she would have been given the bronze unless she landed only 1 triple in the long though. The judges gave a technically poor Chen the bronze only since she was their favorite of those competing, and the rest were also quite mediocre that night, and Kristi on reputation alone and being a huge judges favorite over the years she would have had to skate much worse than all of those (past her prime Chen, pre World Champ Butyrskaya, pre prime and slumping Slutskaya) to lose to any of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blue_idealist View Post
    Bronze, at best. Tara and Michelle were close to perfection and they were both better skaters than Kristi to begin with.
    In the annals of skating history I ensure you Kristi rates much higher than Tara Lipinski. A 26 year old past her prime Kristi might have had trouble beating Tara sabotoging her hips and body to do a few combinations beyond her natural abilities, but there is no way in hell Tara goes down as "better skater". How would a 26 year old Tara even fully healthy place at an Olympics btw, 20th place competing for Tunisia or whatever country she got last minute citizenship for, lol!

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    Yamaguchi would not have beaten any of Kwan, Lipinski, or Bobek based on how they skated in Philadelphia at Nationals, IMO. I actually would have ranked Nicole ahead of Tara at Nationals. Bobek on a good day had much better spins and spirals than Yamaguchi and the jumps she did do well were of a much higher quality and amplitude than Kristi's small jumps. Nicole also skated with greater speed and charisma than Kristi. I much preferred Bobek's engaging presence and performance qualities on the ice; Kristi was more an internal skater.

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    Yamaguchi might have beaten Lu Chen in 1998 provided that judges were in the mood for quality over quantity. An American sweep would annoy some, and so would the idea of an old skater wiping the floor with eligible skaters. These would be political obstacles. Maybe Chen's under-rotated jumps and untidiness would be weighted more heavily if there was an attractive alternative.
    Last edited by TheIronLady; 07-11-2013 at 05:40 AM.

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    One would have to go back and analyze whether Yamaguchi would've made the US team at '98 Nationals: The only significant change I can think of in ladies skating was the implementation of a solo triple in the SP starting in 1995. Bobek was doing a solo 3toe, so it is possible that Yamaguchi technically could've at least kept up with her. Bobek's SP was choreographically exciting, skating to 'Zorba' but Yamaguchi was considered an artist by the US skating establishment. Lipinski fell in the SP and got an automatic deduction of 0.5. Kwan was magical and untouchable at Nationals. So, Yamaguchi skating with a 3z-2t (flutz or not), solo 3toe and 2x would've been 2nd or 3rd after the SP. She was definitely a better skater than Kwiatkowski who I believe was in 3d (Lipinski 4th with the fall).

    '98 Nationals LP: Kwan was untouchable, Lipinski rose to 2nd with some technical fireworks and Bobek settled into 3rd. I don't recall Bobek with very technically challenging jump content such as a 3-3, so it may have come down to an artistic mark which was Yamaguchi's forte, but Bobek when she was on was considered very exciting and dynamic.

    It may have come down to whom the USFSA favored which would've then influenced the judges. Yamaguchi who would've been around forever or Bobek who was exciting but inconsistent at times.

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    IMO, Kristi couldn't have done better than 3rd, without 5 different triples.
    Anyway, it's very difficult to judge. Reputation is very important in FS, and Kristi Yamaguchi was a former Olympic champion, with all the skills to shine in 1998 (3Lz/3T, a second 3Lz). And she could have won the SP. The first part of her LP in Albertville would have been a fantastic SP : 3Lz/3T, 3F out of steps, 2A !!!!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by museksk8r View Post
    Yamaguchi would not have beaten any of Kwan, Lipinski, or Bobek based on how they skated in Philadelphia at Nationals, IMO. I actually would have ranked Nicole ahead of Tara at Nationals. Bobek on a good day had much better spins and spirals than Yamaguchi and the jumps she did do well were of a much higher quality and amplitude than Kristi's small jumps. Nicole also skated with greater speed and charisma than Kristi. I much preferred Bobek's engaging presence and performance qualities on the ice; Kristi was more an internal skater.
    Yes one of the Worlds worst flutzes and incorrect takeoff edges to almost every jump is great quality jumping, lol! Taras spins and spirals are much poorer than Kristi, and her jumps are tinier, yet she had no problem beating Nicole despite skating mediocre at Nationals. Nicoles spins arent better than Kristi, and Nicole had mediocre technical content and not exceptional artistry either by 98. Kristi would have a huge reputation and respect advantage over Nicole. Kristi, a former Olympics Champion, would have had to land about 3 triples at Nationals to possibly be placed beneath Nicoles just ok 5 triple, no triple-double combination, and no triple loop attempt performance. I saw a couple pro events where Nicole skated very well and still easily lost to Kristi.

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    She would have won gold. Her triple lutz-triple toe which was easy and extremely consistent for her was much better than anything even a healthy Michelle sometimes did (triple toe-triple toe) let alone the injured Michelle with no triple-triple in Nagano, and her artistry was way better than Lipinski. Her spins were better than both skaters too. She would have just left out the triple salchow and done a clean 6 triple program with a triple lutz-triple toe and her usual 2nd triple lutz at 3:45 in. Gold easy.

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    There are too many Ifs. Would she have stayed in from 92 on? If so, she would have delayed the uprising of Lipinski, Kwan and Bobek to varying degrees. Kwan wouldn't have had the reputation as the artist. That would have gone to Yamaguchi. Lipinski's 3r/3r would have been impressive but not amazingly impressive as it was in 1998 when it was beside Yamaguchis 3z-3t. If Yamaguchi had stayed in all the time she might have been banged up by 1998 and unable to even keep up. Too many ifs.

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    Kristi wouldnt have ever come back from 98 when she wasnt even willing to for 94. Hypothetically being around for 98 would mean she had already stayed around through 94. Since it is a 100% certainty she would have won in 94 given the weak field she would already be a 2 time Olympic Champion, 4 or 5 time World Champion, and probably the greatest skater of all time today. Why would she ever want to stay in for 98, especialy with the pro boom around 95 given the Harding scandal which she would miss out on by staying amateur too much longer.

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    Kristi did skate head to head against Michelle in a pro/am competition and Michelle won. It was a highly publicized and anticipated event, and nerves got the better of Kristi - she fell on a double axel. I don't remember what year it was except that it was before '98 and Tara was not yet on the scene.

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    Kristi had an awful performance at the event she lost to Michelle. 2 falls and another 2 doubled jumps. In the short when both were clean Kristi won, and Kristi only did a triple toe just like Michelle. This was ISU judges who were biased agaisnt pro skater Kristi vs amateur World Champ Michelle too probably.

    To see people in this thread even speculating she would have lost to Nicole freaking Bobek is laughable beyond words. Compared to Kristi, Nicole is a nothing in the sport, they would have sent former Olympic Champ Kristi to an Olympics over her in a heartbeat, and it is not like Nicole's National performances were anything amazing, but they badly wanted her on the team over old joureywomen Tonia who skated poorly that night anyway. They send Kristi and they are a lock for a podium sweep in any order, whereas with Nicole they were never ever going to get the sweep.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by aliceanne View Post
    Kristi did skate head to head against Michelle in a pro/am competition and Michelle won. It was a highly publicized and anticipated event, and nerves got the better of Kristi - she fell on a double axel. I don't remember what year it was except that it was before '98 and Tara was not yet on the scene.
    Funny how people remember events different. Kristi and Michelle skated head to head in the short program. Both were clean. Kristi won.

    then

    Kristi bombed the long. Michelle was clean. Michelle won.

    I think Kristi would have won easily if she'd had a clean long.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by fenway2 View Post
    Funny how people remember events different. Kristi and Michelle skated head to head in the short program. Both were clean. Kristi won.

    then

    Kristi bombed the long. Michelle was clean. Michelle won.

    I think Kristi would have won easily if she'd had a clean long.
    That actually sounds almost identical to what was stated: that nerves got the best of Kristi (as it sounds like she struggled in the long) and Michelle won.

    I suppose it is important to consider when this comeback would have started and/or if she would have simply continued on from Albertville (in which case, she would have likely won 93 Worlds, earned the USA 3 spots for Lillehammer, and we may never have had the whack and a pro scene that was as attractive). But, in looking at 1998 in isolation, I think she would have certainly made the Olympic team (2nd at Nationals - 2nd SP, 3rd LP) and likely won bronze at the Games. Chen's marks were not strong at all; a 5-triple program from Yamaguchi would've been more than enough.

    Finally, Lipinski and Yamaguchi had very comparable careers. 1 Olympic gold, 1 National title; Kristi has 2 World titles vs. 1 for Tara, but Tara had better GP results, where Kristi was often beaten by Midori and Tonya. They each had small, compact jumps, but pushed themselves to their technical limits with difficult combinations and sequences, with each having nicely-packaged Bezic programs. I don't think it's right to hold Kristi's impressive pro career against Tara, as she (Lipinski) was developing artistically as a pro before her career-ending injury. I personally would say that Kristi would be a few spots higher on any all-time list, but to say Tara doesn't come close just isn't a fair or accurate assessment.

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