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  1. #1
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    Angela Nikodinov in 2002

    What would be Angela Nikodinov's ranking potential be during the 2002 SLC season if she continued her upward trend from 2001?

    Unfortunately, she didn't skate well enough during the GP series to make it to the GPF, and skated poorly at Nationals. Therefore she could not make it to the Olympic team. I know there are many what-ifs in the scenario - but does she have the physical or mental ability to make it the GPF and/or the Olympics? If she does make it to the Olympics, does she have the potential to medal or even when gold (since Kwan or Slutskaya both skated poorly)?

    My thoughts:
    - She definitely could have made the GPF, but was . Unfortunately, she let her demons get to her at every event. Even after falling to 3rd at both Sparkassen and CoR, she could have still made the GPF by performing decently at NHK with a weak field. Unfortunately, she faltered and let Malinina take away her berth. If she did it make it to GPF though, I doubt she would make the top 3 - Hughes' 7-triple program would have topped Angela, even if she skated cleanly. This is assuming Angela still follows a 6-triple layout.

    - At Nationals, Angela placed 4th after the SP. This was a close event, and I think much of her placement is due to her wonky 3flip landing - if she skated more convincingly (i.e. 2001 Nationals or Worlds SP), she would have at least landed ahead of Hughes. Similarly, a strong LP (6 triples) may have landed her at the Olympics, since Hughes was 'off' during the LP, aside from also landing 6 triples. Angela was also reported to be skating very well during practices. Of course, if she had made the GPF and/or done well there, her rep would have been much more boosted at Nationals.

    - If Angela made the Olympics, I think a good SP from her would at least land her in 4th. Butyrskaya's SP was clean but unconvincing, and the judges would not place clean Sebestyen or Suguri ahead of Angela. In the long, what are her chances of winning a medal (or gold) if she skates to her potential?

    Don't kill me for bringing in so many hypotheticals but I love discussing skating during the early 2000s. It's the era that got me into the sport and I like reanalyzing now that I have much more experience with it.

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    Wow! That is a lot of thinking I think Angela was on such a roll she would have done very well. I always thought she was a lovely skater who really came into her own.
    DH - and that's just my opinion

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    I think she would have had a very hard time even making the 2002 Olympic team. Hughes did land 7 triples at those Nationals, even if she was blah and slow, and she was even placed above Nikidinov at the 2001 Nationals when Angela skated very well and Hughes made a mistake. I think Kwan, Cohen, and Hughes was the ideal team the USFSA saw by the time 02 Nationals rolled around and probably only a poor skate by Hughes or Cohen was changing that. I am not sure Angela could have made the team even with a clean 7 triple program, something she never has done.

    Now had she medalled at the 2001 Worlds, which she had in her grasp to do, it would be a whole different story. With the much hyped and USFSA beloved Cohen coming back strong the last 90 seconds of Angela's Vancouver Worlds LP had likely already cost her a spot on the Olympic team.

    As for if she made the Olympics she probably would have been similar to the 2001 Worlds. A chance for the bronze only if she skated perfectly. That remains even with the competition panned out. No way she was beating Hughes who had the skate of her life with numerous triple-triples and much more rep than Angela had. I would consider Angela less of a contender than say Butyrskaya, and even Maria seemed a long shot for a medal in SLC.

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    I know Hughes was 3rd after a so-so performance at nats, but I think the slc team was going to be Kwan and Hughes before the season even began. Nik lost a sure spot when hughes medaled at worlds and she didn't. It's easy to look back and say sasha was a sure spot since she went on to have a great career, but up until 02 nats she was all hype and no action. She was Angela's true competition for the coveted 3rd spot. Sasha skated her best, Angela did not. She would have needed the exact opposite to have happened. Sasha placing over a so-so Sarah, while a brilliant Angela still placed below a so-so Sarah the year before, gives Cohen the edge IMO had they both actually skated well.

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    Yeah, let's face it...Hughes solidified her spot at 2001 Worlds. Not only that, but Hughes had been on an upward trend from 1999 Worlds. Nikodinov didn't have that. She would have needed Hughes to totally melt down and had the skate of her life to take that spot. I think Cohen made a strong case for herself to place ahead of Hughes at 2002 Nationals, but I also think it was a little bit political so the USFS could sell three very strong contenders to the SLC Olympics.
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    Was Hughes really that strong of a lock though? Even when skates clean, she has a low score ceiling due to her technical issues (i.e. 5.3 for a 7-triple program in Vancouver). Nikodinov, when clean, seems to get similar scores, based on what I saw during the GP series. I definitely do think that her chances would have been stronger had she performed better during the GP.

    And while Hughes was on an upward trend, Nikodinov was as well. In 2001, Nikodinov landed on a new level with her skating, and the judges easily took notice. Sarah had already been in the top 5 at Worlds, so for Angela to even land in the top 3 during the Vancouver SP was an accomplishment.

    I'm not saying Angela would certainly have a good shot - I'm just not so convinced Sarah was so locked in for the Olympics. However, Kwan-Cohen-Hughes skated well at the Nationals, so it would be interesting to see how Nikodinov would have placed with clean programs and GP momentum. Would the judges just have had Cohen and Nikodinov for the team, bump Cohen in favor of Hughes, or still bump off Nikodinov?

    Did Hughes land 7 triples at 2002 Nats? My memory was that she landed 6 - and that was what Frogs on Ice had as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabybackhand View Post
    As for if she made the Olympics she probably would have been similar to the 2001 Worlds. A chance for the bronze only if she skated perfectly. That remains even with the competition panned out. No way she was beating Hughes who had the skate of her life with numerous triple-triples and much more rep than Angela had. I would consider Angela less of a contender than say Butyrskaya, and even Maria seemed a long shot for a medal in SLC.
    But remember if Angela went to the Olympics, Sarah probably would not have.

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    On the contrary I suspect if Angela had gone to the Olympics, it is Sasha who would not have. I agree with the poster who said Sasha was placed over Sarah at Nationals (on a 5-4 split) only to make it appear the U.S had 3 really strong contenders for SLC when previously Sasha had no international cred., even less than Angela. So had Angela skated well at Nationals and been put on the team, it would have been at Sasha's expense with Angela probably being placed 2nd over Sarah as Sasha was for the same reason.

    However it seems the strong consensus in this thread is that even had Angela skated cleanly at Nationals with 7 triples (I am talking going into Nationals as with, not if she had GP momentum, not if she had done better at Worlds, but exactly as was) she would have been placed below both Cohen and Hughes with how each skated at Nationals, and right off the team. Reading the previous posts that is what of you are thinking correct? Then in the event she skated decently with just 5 triples (her max in the past, never saw her do a 7 triple program anyway), minus any major falls and many major pops, even more likely that would have been the case with her missing out.


    Even if Angela had made it to the Olympics, even had Hughes been the one to not make it, and then even had Angela had a great competition though no way she wins gold. Even with Slutskaya's mediocre and fugly skate with mistakes, and Kwan's fall, it would take someone with triple-triples to be placed over then. I am not sure if even a clean Butyrsakya would have been placed over them for instance, and I believe Angela was viewed by international judges as even lower than old Butyrskaya. The best case she could have done is a bronze with or without Hughes , and it would have taken a lights out effort on her part.

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    It's a real shame Nikodinov wasn't a stronger competitor. I far preferred her skating above both Hughes and Cohen. She was elegance, grace, and fluidity personified. She had a true Lutz too. Her classic layback spin was stunning and her trademark besting those of all Kwan, Hughes, and Cohen, IMO. Unfortunately, she would always let her nerves get the best of her and would pop jumps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shady82 View Post
    Did Hughes land 7 triples at 2002 Nats? My memory was that she landed 6 - and that was what Frogs on Ice had as well.
    Rotation and takeoff edges aside, Hughes' jumps in the FS were as follows: 2a 3t (seq.?), 3s1r, 3z2t, 3f, 3r, 3z, 3t. With regard to the second 3t, I don't know what the rules for jump sequences were back then.
    Last edited by falling_dance; 08-04-2013 at 10:26 PM.
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    Did anybody know why Angela had such non-competitive spins in her LPs? Aside from her layback, her other spins were very basic compared to the likes of Slute, Cohen, and Kwan. Her final spin was a slow-speed if artistic forward scratch spin when skaters usually did that as a 5th optional spin at the time.
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    Yeah some people are remembering with the knowledge that Sasha turned out to be a three-time world medalist. In 2002 she was coming off an injury, had a disastrous skate at Skate America and didn't qualify for the GPF either. Sarah and Michelle were treated as sure shots all years by the press and specially ABC. Michelle, Sarah and Michelle all skated in the first group. Sasha skated very late in the short program after a string of bad performances, even so she had a couple of 4th place ordinals and Nikodinov who ended up with the most 4th place ordinals also had a 1st place ordinal. The short program was very very close. Once Angela tanked the long though, politics came into play and I strong believe Sasha was pushed to second to help her politically on the international level. Sarah was Skate Canada champion and a world medalist and didn't need the same push.

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    I think that Angela had an uphill battle to make the team - Kwan obviously was a lock and Hughes had built a strong reputation at Worlds the past 2 years, ultimately medalling in 2001.

    Despite her transformation, I think Angela still had a tough road due to the fact that the USFSA was in love with Sasha from the beginning - look at 2000 Nationals. Angela may not have made the team had Sasha been healthy for 2001 Nationals. Sasha had a very good SP and LP at 2002 Nationals and Sarah ended up 3rd. I'm not convinced that anything Angela would've done competing against a World medalist could have gotten her on the team.

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    I don't think it was politics that put Sasha over Sarah at 2002 Nationals. Sarah's pre-SLC program was a bit of a snoozefest whereas Sasha's packed more of a punch. The changes that Robin made to Sarah's LP after nationals were very smart. Of course it helped immensely that Sarah really delivered in SLC.
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    This thread makes me sad for Angela since it appears we are all in agreement she couldnt have made the team even had she skated perfectly at Nationals. It was almost better for her she bombed then since had she skated cleanly and landed 7 triples and still missed the team, it probably would have been even more gutting for her.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabybackhand View Post
    This thread makes me sad for Angela since it appears we are all in agreement she couldnt have made the team even had she skated perfectly at Nationals..
    I'm not. Even with a wonky landing in the short, she still stole a first place ordinal from Kwan. She had a lot of support and her long program scores were very good for the poor skate she put out. I think she landed 3 triples to Hughes' 6 and five judges had them only separated by .01. I was there in 2002 and besides Michelle, Angela had the loudest support of the ladies competition. She would have blown the roof off the place if she'd skated clean and she had the probably the best choreographed long program of the competition. I think many judges wanted Angela on the team. She just didn't deliver. http://www.usfigureskating.org/event...adies-free.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by fenway2 View Post
    I'm not. Even with a wonky landing in the short, she still stole a first place ordinal from Kwan. She had a lot of support and her long program scores were very good for the poor skate she put out. I think she landed 3 triples to Hughes' 6 and five judges had them only separated by .01. I was there in 2002 and besides Michelle, Angela had the loudest support of the ladies competition. She would have blown the roof off the place if she'd skated clean and she had the probably the best choreographed long program of the competition. I think many judges wanted Angela on the team. She just didn't deliver. http://www.usfigureskating.org/event...adies-free.htm
    I agree. Your points regarding Angela's marks in comparison to those of Hughes and Cohen are key. If she delivered, she definitely had a shot, and if not for the wonky 3flip in the short, she was definitely placing in the top 3. I don't think Angela was at that big of a disadvantage - the Frogsonice report was very positive about her potential at the event, though of course one report does not give complete credibility.

    Regarding Angela's programs, I do think her LPs are lacking in connecting elements and complexity. Many people thought she was blatantly robbed at the 2001 Nationals, but remember she didn't do a successful combination and her program was a bit empty. Her style and basics are gorgeous, but she did need more difficult programs, including perhaps more difficult spins.

    Her SPs were generally more complex - difficult footwork, in particular - and always a stunning layback.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VIETgrlTerifa View Post
    Did anybody know why Angela had such non-competitive spins in her LPs? Aside from her layback, her other spins were very basic compared to the likes of Slute, Cohen, and Kwan. Her final spin was a slow-speed if artistic forward scratch spin when skaters usually did that as a 5th optional spin at the time.
    Don't know the answer to your insightful and specific question BUT I always thought that the SIMPLICITY and ELEGANCE of her layback was awesome. Better than Sarah Hughes', which had a nice free leg, but more of a "commercial" look to her spin overall. Angela's reminded me more of Janet Lynn's. Loved it.

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    A decade ago the US produced the top ranking ladies in the world. Olympic teams from 1984 to 2002 fielded ladies who were all at one point world medallists or more. Now for the first time since 2008, they are sending three women to the Olympics and World Championships next year.

    Hopefully 2014 will produce a medallist for the US.

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    I don't think the scoring of Cohen at Nationals was political; if anything, the opposite. Her skating was fresh and exciting, with high-quality and innovative spins and step sequences. Most of her signature elements have been copied to death over the last 10 years, but at the time were quite new. The fact that she went on to place 3rd in the short program at the Olympics, with second-place ordinals, backs up the scoring at Nationals.

    Nikodinov did give points away on spins, particularly the very simple combination spin that was often short or just barely made the minimum number of revolutions. That said, her speed and the quality of her jumps were the best in the U.S. at the time, at least to my recollection; I also felt her programs were the most elegant.

    Nikodinov had her opportunity in 2001, when international judges did what the U.S. judges were too afraid to do -- put her ahead of a clean Hughes in the short program. Unfortunately, her meltdown in that free skate coupled with Hughes's (lucky, IMO) bronze medal sealed the deal. Given how Cohen and Hughes skated, each with seven triples, I'm not sure anything other than a miracle could have gotten Nikodinov on the Olympic team.

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