neither, someone else
The closest example I can think of are their respective free programs from Worlds in 2001.
With Irina, all I saw were the jumps. With Michelle, I was caught up in the story she was presenting and didn't realise until the last triple lutz just how much content she'd packed into the performance.
If artistry, entertainment value, or the quality of the elements are not important, then Slutskaya was perhaps the very best of the era with Yoshie Onda a close second.
I didn't know that crossovers and easy steps sequences now count as technical content
Which elements did she never showcase? Ina bauers, spread eagles, split jumps? She did all of those in various programs, although hers were not admittedly as pretty as Kwan which had also do with Irina's different body type and more athletic style.
With the same argumentation, I could also ask why Kwan never did a tano double axel or other tano jumps? Oh wait, that's because she did not have the same jumping ability, which singles figure skating is an important part of, and since Irina was clearly better here, it means that Irina must be the better skater between these two
If you thought Kwan's routines were empty during this era, then what was Irina's routines? Negative balance? Anyway, Irina didn't really start to have content in-between her routines until COP but then her routines became devoid of any real musical interpretation or coherent choreography. Besides, having "prettier" skating elements doesn't mean it's only prettier but that a skater took time and energy to execute them properly, which is more difficult than doing it as a throw-away move.
Anyway, Irina had bigger jumps but she didn't always execute them the best way. Kwan's jumps weren't the biggest, but at Worlds, she was able to execute them with excellent flow and position out of the jumps. As for the spinning. Irina was a faster spinner and her layback had a better position. However, other than the Biellman, I found Kwan's to be better centered with more variety of position. People knocked Kwan for not being able to do a Double Biellman the way Irina could, but then nobody asked if Irina could do a double Y-spin the way Kwan did. Could Irina really do a proper arabesque position with a high leg position without the Biellman?
I'm not even sure that Irina Slutskaya had better jumps than Michelle Kwan ! Irina jumps higher than Michelle, but in term of jumping technique, Michelle's Flip, Salchow and Toe are, IMO, better than Irina's.
The Lutz is equal, both were on flat and Irina had a long, long, long entrance.
Axel and Loop are clearly better by Irina.
If Michelle had better technique on the flip, then I wonder why Slutskaya had so much more spring and height on this jump. Irina also had a slightly truer take-off edge than Kwan on the lutz and more difficult footwork into the flip. Kwan's entrance into the lutz was also not really shorter than Irina's, she just disguised it better.
^Agreed. I don't know why some would even attempt to dispute the fact that Slutskaya was the better jumper. Kwan did many things better. Is it that hard to recognize that others did SOME things better than her? I also noticed that past 2000, Kwan's jumps really got worse in height and spring.
I think Kwans jumps started to suffer after the 03 season, but she was able to hold on due to her technique. Slutskaya did have more spring and power on her flip, Kwan had nicer positions, as well as sometimes better flow out of her jumps especially from 97-01.
Last edited by Lnt175; 07-20-2013 at 05:10 PM.
Of the two, definitely Michelle. Although there were so many other skaters of the era I loved as well - Laetitia Hubert, Tanja Szewczenko, Annie Bellemare, Nicole Bobek, Vanessa Gusmeroli, Maria Butyrskaya, Olga Markova..
I remember joining the Michelle Kwan fan forum page once just to check it out and after an hour I never went back there. One of the nuttiest and most agressive fan bases in any sport probably.
Michelle Kwan - for sure.
Personally I enjoyed Slutskaya more because I got to see her grow from season to season, but overall Kwan was for most of her career a complete skater.
As of March 2013 - no longer scared of TAHbKA or Andrey aka Pushkin
Better jumps = Irina
Better spins = Irina
More difficult footwork = Irina
Better carriage = Michelle (Slutskaya was known for pumping her back, which made her skating look more labored than Kwan's)
Better choreography = Michelle
Better spirals = Michelle
Better musical interpretation = Michelle
Better competitive mindset = Michelle (she won the most head-to-heads at the biggest events)
Better speed = Irina
Skating skills = tie
Better transitions = Michelle (Slutskaya often telegraphed her jumps while Kwan disguised them a little better)
Michelle was not bad at jumping, spinning, or footwork, but Irina often did attempt more difficulty in these areas (the Biellmann on both feet; the footwork sequence all on one foot) and Slutskaya had better amplitude on her jumps and attempted more difficult triple+triples (3Lutz+3loop, 3Salchow+3loop) and did the 'tano 2Axel. Michelle had much more memorable programs though, IMO, and I think she was a more complete skater.
Overall, I preferred Michelle, but I liked Irina too. I actually liked their fellow countrywomen better though if I am being totally honest. If only Nicole Bobek and Maria Butyrskaya could have remained healthy, been mentally stronger, and delivered their full potential every time on the ice, we wouldn't even be having this Michelle/Irina debate.
Last edited by museksk8r; 07-21-2013 at 12:20 PM.
You are right on Nicole. Sadly the judges saw Maria even in her prime as a third tier skater who could only win a bronze medal if she skated lights out and everyone else had a disaester (and even then sometimes not).