I remember talk as early at 88-89 season that Kristi was not going to reach her potential in singles as long as she was trying to do both disciplines. To me, it was kind of a no-brainer to drop pairs.
THANK YOU Aliona and Robin, Dai, Mao, Carolina, Akiko, all the skaters who retired after the Olympics, and yes, even you Jeremy)!
The first time I'd heard of Yamaguchi and Galindo was at the 1988 World Junior Championships in Brisbane, Australia which I saw live. I was not only blown away by their tricks (which were light years ahead of the field in both junior and senior competition), but that they had a lot of energy and musicality.
I understand that going down the classical path in later seasons may have meant being taken more seriously as a senior pair, but they really knew how to sell programs with a show - tune sensibility.
The disadvantage Y & G may have faced was not their free skating, but the short program. It more or less put the top five or six teams on an even level with little room for variation.
Midori would have won the gold at the Olympics.
Yamaguchi had no problems with beating Kerrigan, even in the SPs where Kerrigan was skating her best. That being said I don't see her staying in pairs past the 89-90 season beacuse figures were gone in singles skating, and the technical difficulty in womens skating went up very high with the likes of Ito, Harding, Bonaly, Chen, and Kerrigan herself.
I was surprised the judges did not hold Ito up in the SP at the 92 Olympics and place her 3rd over Bonaly. Bonaly's triple lutz looked two footed at first glance (although slow motion showed it wasnt), her double axel landing was shaky, and her overall skating was pretty weak around then. I think had the Olympics not been in France they would have done just that and then it would have just come down to the long between Kristi and Midori. Given how both skated it would have been a toss up then. Both had big mistakes, but both skated well and did some pretty hard things.
Scott Hamilton though was furious Ito was over Harding in the short since he said Harding trying to the triple axel combo meant she should have had more credit and come ahead with both falling. I think skate order made a huge difference to how they scored Harding and Sato vs Ito and Hubert in the short.
I say not very good because Rudy was a bit of a head case. At least at that time.
I agree Bonaly was lucky really that was her home Olympics. Her skating skills were very poor in comparison to Ito, Harding and Kerrigan besides her shakiness. I think the judges still would have put Ito 3rd, but I do see a case for Harding as well.
Whether or not Y&G could have been successful if Kristi had continued with the partnership would have been heavily dependent on how their coaching situations would have been resolved, I think. Their long-time coach Jim Hulick passed away after a long illness just a few weeks prior to 1990 Nationals. He had asked John Nicks to take Y&G on, but I think that they had still not reached a level of comfort with Mr. Nicks by the time Worlds had rolled around that year. I think if they could have forged a good coaching relationship with Mr. Nicks or with another solid pairs coach, their prospects as a pairs team could have been much better than those prospects actually turned out.
The fact that Kristi's singles coach Christy Ness moved to Canada in the same general time frame that Jim Hulick was in the final stages of his illness probably was a big push for Yamaguchi to dissolve the partnership, since, with Hulick deceased, there really was no one to act as an advocate for Rudy and/or the team of Y&G. Add to that the pressure that the USFSA was putting on Yamaguchi to opt solely for singles, and Y&G as a pair was pretty much doomed: the USFSA being much more interested, in my opinion, in the OGM returning to a US Lady rather than the possibility of a US Pairs team--no matter how good they had the potential to become--bringing home an Olympic medal of any color. All of this is speculation on my part, of course, from my point of view as a fan looking at things from the outside in and from a distance of nearly 25 years after the fact.
I was so disappointed when Y&G split; mostly because I enjoyed their skating and also because I felt that they had the skills, talent and drive to seriously challenge the dominant Soviet/Russian pairs teams at the time. (They improved tremendously between 1989 and 1990.) If I remember correctly, Moskvina had been interviewed for a CBS fluff piece during worlds in either 1989 or 1990 and she had said something like "I am still afraid of Yamaguchi & Galindo. . ."
It would have been surprising if there had not been some kind of estrangement between Kristi and Rudy after the split, but, if I am not mistaken, they did renew their friendship eventually. Kristi also asked Rudy to coach one of her daughters. (And I think that Rudy and that daughter performed together at the opening ceremonies at one of the recent US Nationals, didn't they?) Also, I seem to recall seeing a photo that Kristi had posted on Instagram earlier this year of her and Rudy doing a pairs move at the rink where Rudy now coaches. (Someone had posted a link to the photo in a thread in the Golden Skate forums and I can't find the link anymore, but it was amazing how their lines and extensions matched almost perfectly, all these years after they had split. I guess the body never forgets.)
Unfortunately, Y&G fall into the "what might have been" and "if only. . ." categories for US Pairs skating. Really wish that we could have seen them fulfill their potential as a pairs team. Oh, well--"It is what it is."
I have always believed that the coaching situation percipitated the split. Hulick's death and Ness moving to Canada were critical. It was marvelous to see both Kristie and (especially) Rudy excell in singles!
I agree alot on the above about Yamaguchi probably being pressured by USFSA to pick one discipline, and really singles was where they wanted the gold to return after 16 years. In 89-90 season Yamaguchi was seen as the future of womens skating, but she had to make a committment in order for that to be assured. USFSA needed a lady with the whole package to challenge Ito. Trenary was on her way out, Harding was seen as erratic, and had yet to hit her 3A's and Kerrigan was not yet gold medal material.
Natasha Kuchiki / Todd Sand were '91 World Bronze medalists. I think Y/G could've equaled that had they stayed together, finishing only behind M/D and B/E. Going into 1992 with any momentum, they could've repeated as bronze medalists in Albertville ahead of a flawed B/E, or even snatching a silver from B/P who didn't have a great reputation due to falling apart at critical moments. Although, their inspiring skates at Albertville probably would've kept them safe.
M&D only had 1 double axel in the LP. So she missed all the real jumps in the LP, the triple toe and the double axel. OK they did land the double flip, but that was all, and when you combine basically no solo jumps done with that with that their pair technical elements were also not great- not a very good twist, simple lifts, only a forward inside death spiral, and technically overall it was not very strong; even if artistically excellent. Usually their strong side by side jumps, especialy doing triple toes, negated their weaker pair elements to hold them up technically, but not this night. I think had Brasseur & Eisler skated cleanly that night they would have won gold based on a much higher technical mark. Granted Rudy & Kristi did not have great pair elements by 1990, but they might have improved by 92 and they atleast had super jumps.
Bechke & Petrov were not clean in the 92 Olympic LP. She badly two footed the triple toe, it was no better than Natalia's attempt basically, and they singled the double axels. Their performance was good for them given their crash and burn history, but easily beatable and only won silver since Brasseur & Eisler bombed, and the overall event was weak. Y&G had they developed properly would atleast have had a shot of beating them.
Anyway it seems most of you feel Yamaguchi & Galindo would have never been good enough to be competitive with teams like Gordeeva & Grinkov, Miskutienok & Dmitriev, or even Brasseur & Eisler on a good day, and if that is the case why are some of you even questioning Kristis decision to go to singles. Even in 1990 it was obvious if she put more focus on singles she had the goods to seriously challenge Midori Ito for gold medals, the only one at the time who looked to have potential to do that (this was before Hardings 91 emergence). So lets see, one hand a real shot to be a gold contender-winner and possibly win the 92 Olympics and maybe 1994 Olympics too, or on the other hand to be fighting for bronze medals only in both singles and pairs, or only pairs. Why would anyone choose the latter, lol!
Kristi was always very driven. She always wanted to be the best in the World, if that goal was unattainable for her in pairs, but it obviously was attainable for her in singles.
Yamaguchi also knew figures were goinng to be phased out after the 89-90 season. As it was she was not working on improving her figures, but she almost medalled at those worlds, and probably would have over Cook if she was just a bit cleaner in the long.
Yes, figures being phased out, focusing just on singles, Trenary having already peaked as a free skater and at a technical level nowhere near what Kristi was already capable of, and Ito getting older and having the huge challenge of mantaining her 88-90 level of skating after years on the circuit and wear on tear on the body. It was the perfect storm coming together at once for Kristi if she just dumped pairs. She is far too smart and astute to not have seen that.