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  1. #1
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    Sebestyen, Liashenko, Meier, Poykio: Did they have potential for Worlds medals?

    Sebestyen, Liashenko, Meier, and Poykio are all strong, solid skaters with appealing styles and their own individual strengths. They all competed in at least three Olympic cycles and produced fairly consistent results. Even though they never medalled at Worlds (none of them placed higher than 6th), I enjoyed their performances very much. A couple of my favorites from each:

    - Sebestyen's 2004 and 2005 SPs (a waltz, then Art on Ice)
    - Liashenko's Frida in 2004 (especially at Europeans!)
    - Poykio's Munich LP
    - Meier's 2007 programs (Aranjuez and P&P)

    Sebestyen and Meier both had a European title. Liashenko and Poykio both reached silver at Europeans, but alas not the title. Both skaters, unfortunately, also had less than ideal ends to their careers - Liashenko's low finish in Torino, and Poykio not making the team in 2010.

    Would these skaters have ever medalled at Worlds if they skated to their full potential in both the SP and LP? Or would they not for perhaps these following reasons?
    - Lack of a 3-3 or 7-triple layout
    - The extra "something" or zing in their presentation or artistry
    - Lack of standout elements
    - Questionable technique or skating skills
    - Inability to peak at the right time

  2. #2
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    I think Sebestyen and Meier had the best chances for a medal. Liashenko had some nice jumps, but I don't think she had the overall package unless others bombed.

  3. #3
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    I dont think any of those had potential for World medals:

    Liashenko- maxed out her potential. She was a competent top 10 skater. No more, no less.

    Meier- didnt have the technical ability needed to be a World medal contender, especialy in the era she hit her prime in. Maybe in the Kwan era where technical skills were lesser she would have a chance to be a bronze contender.

    Poykio- definitely not since she was so underrated by judges. In reality she was an equally good skater and better jumper than someone like Lepisto who won a lucky World medal with only 3 triples and falling on a double axel in the short program, but the judges just never took note of her the way they greatly overvalued Lepisto.

    Sebeysten- No. Just a jumper really, not enough of an overall package to ever be a medal contender. 2004 when she won Europeans and came 6th at Worlds was the max of her potential. 2004 Worlds was her best SP ever, one of the few times she displayed artistry and jumps both and she still came only 6th in the short behind a bunch of women who did triple-triples and Cohen and Kwan who didnt even try one either, and Kwan even with relatively low scores came out ahead. Had Fumie not bombed the Q round and skated later she would probably be 7th in the short, and this was her absolute best.

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    It depends too on the quality of the competition. Sokolova was able to win a world silver medal, and her skating was similar to Sebeysten IMO. Just jumping and alot of stroking around.
    Meier had some nice qualities, but I agree her tech difficulty was too low. Then again Lepisto was able to win a worlds medal in the same era.

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    Sebastyen was a very good toe jumper, not so much on the edge jumps. She several times put the salchow in the beginning if her free skate to get it overwith while she still felt fresh. Then, she would later struggle with the loop and axel. Even the 3toe caused her problems, she didn't seem to be able to last four minutes. Her choreo was never something special, what a waste, given her big tricks, she should have learned from Czako and got a decent choreographer.

    Liashenko couldn't land a 3loop to save her life. She telegraphed and lacked that little extra something, but I always had a soft spot for her. Her Grieg-program was lovely.

    Meier was lacked something, I can't really point out what, her free programs lacked some spark. She did the jumps, but they were somewhat tiny. If all her programs could be more like her Finding Neverland sp, then maybe...

    Pöykiö never got any credit. In her prime, she was really a top skater. She had all the triples, lovely, soft knee bend, gorgeous edges, and that special ethereal quality to her that few have. She was robbed at 2005 Euros. In her later career she struggled more though. But, that Finnish basic is really to die for!

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    I agree that Pöykiö never really got credit for her technical skills during her career. Comparing Pöykiö and Lepistö though, I have to say, that Susanna lacked some of the qualities that Laura had: speed, attack and charisma. If I remember right, Susanna also had a hard time cathing up with COP spin levels.

    For other three, I also think that Liashenko got as far as she could. Sebastyen could have been more but she failed to get a proper style and choreo during her career. Towards the end, I even felt like she didn't have any passion for figure skating any more. I might be wrong.

    Meier, well, I think that she might have won a World medal in certain conditions. I think that at the height of her career she was really lovely skater.

  7. #7
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    Meier never got the credit she deserved. Some of her programs were way more artistic than the young American girls such as Emily Hughes & Kimmie Meissner. But the judges could not see beyond them. Her skating at the 2006 & 2008 Worlds were fantastic.
    She should have won the Europeans in 2008 but they went for Kostner who made errors.
    Poykio is one of my all time favourite skaters. A gentle style & a real connection to the music (Her Munich program was a real jewel). Poykio IMO should have won the Europeans in 2005.
    It's a shame neither have a World medal.

  8. #8
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    I think these four skaters should have gotten more credit than they received. I never understand, for example, why Volchkova was consistently given better marks than Sebestyen and Liashenko when all went cleanly. Apart from her big jumps, the rest of Volchkova's skating is lacking - sleep-inducing presentation ability, mediocre spins. Julia and Elena had better non-jump elements and programs, and Julia in particular was a great jumper. Similarly, Meier should have been receiving PCS roughly at the level of Ando (as should've Nakano), and higher than that given to Meissner and Hughes. Meissner in particular was given ridiculously high PCS scores - how in the world did she get higher PCS at 2007 Worlds than Ando in the long?

    Among these skaters, I would say Sebestyen had the best chance for a medal. If she was skating to her potential, a medal in 2005 and 2006 would have been fairly likely. Perhaps in 2003 as well. I think the chances for her would have been better if she was performing more consistently during the early 2000s. This would have allowed her a better chance at medal condition, similar to Suguri.

    While I do agree Sebestyen does not relate to the audience very well with her programs - she skates to easy, often techno versions of classical music to make it easy to execute choreograph and elements. However, her elements are of fairly high quality - top-notch spins and basics as well. She definitely had a chance in 2005 and 2006.

    Meier was of a similar quality IMO, but to be competitive during the post-Kwan quad, you need a consistent 3-3 or very complete overall skating (e.g. Rochette). Without that, I don't think she would have challenged for a medal. I also have heard that Meier's basic skating or speed are lacking compared to the top skaters - does someone understand this better perhaps?

    Poykio was lovely, but I think her skating lacked power and was not as convincing as that of Lepisto or skaters who ranked ahead of her. Liashenko was unfortunately rarely able to put two good programs back-to-back. 2004 Euros was one of the only times, and IMO she was robbed there. Julia did have more energy there, but she only landed 4 triples. Interestingly, she looked victorious at the end despite not landing that many triples - and she 'had' to win since the competition was at Budapest. It seemed odd to me that she fist pumped at the end despite not completing two of her planned triples cleanly (the rest of the program, I agree, is superb).

    Then again, none of these skaters seemed able to put two clean programs back-to-back often, especially at critical times.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lnt175 View Post
    It depends too on the quality of the competition. Sokolova was able to win a world silver medal, and her skating was similar to Sebeysten IMO. Just jumping and alot of stroking around.
    Meier had some nice qualities, but I agree her tech difficulty was too low. Then again Lepisto was able to win a worlds medal in the same era.
    Sokolova landed 3-3s in the Sp and LP, while Sebestyen generally does not land 3-3s. If any of these skaters could do more difficult combinations, I'm sure they'd be popping up in the medals as well. I also think Sebestyen's non-jump skating was superior to Sokolova's. Julia had excellent spins (especially her combo spin), speed, and posture - she just generally had forgettable programs. Elena had mediocre, poorly stretched spins and spirals, and 'windmill' stroking.

  10. #10
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    Julia at her best was only at best similar to Voltchkova, huge and great jumps and otherwise boring and slow skating, and Voltchkova even with her very best skating couldnt get close to a medal at Worlds (2001 and 2003), and that is with more political clout coming from Russia than Julia. I dont agree that she had any stronger non jump elements, at best she had the same. Neither had strong non jump elements. Where are those excellent spins you are talking about, was I in a coma when Julia produced those.

    If anything Volchkova had a bit of elegance and some nice positions to her skating which Sebeysten had absolutely none of, although they were still drowned out by the overall zzz of VV's overall skating.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lnt175 View Post
    It depends too on the quality of the competition. Sokolova was able to win a world silver medal, and her skating was similar to Sebeysten IMO. Just jumping and alot of stroking around.
    Sokolova won World silver for one reason and one reason only. She landed a triple lutz-triple toe in every program at those Worlds. She also landed all 17 triple jumps she attempted over 3 programs cleanly. Pretty much any top 12 skater who pulls that off in a pretty weak year (which that years Worlds was) will get on the podium. Take away her triple lutz-triple combinations and leave all else the same, and I suspect she ends up 5th at those Worlds behind Kwan, so so Suguri, splatty Sasha, and Voltchkova.

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    Was Sebestyn at the 03 worlds. I agree I think she would have had a great opportunity to medal there if she hit considering how Suguri and Cohen skated. 2005 and 06 were another great chances considering that Kostner and Cohen were no great shakes there.

    I agree Meissner was very overmarked artistically in 05-06.

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    Wow, what a thread.

    These skaters were with us during the years I was most passionate about skating!

    I will talk about the skaters in order of preference (in fact, I love Poykio and Liashenko equally …)

    (1) Poykio. In fact, she was a World Medalist (bronze medalist at Junior Worlds ). Somehow I believe that she’s a skater who has underachieved. Now, I am totally aware of her weaknesses (lack of a triple-triple, inability to finish on the dot of the music etc.,) but overall she is just so stunning to watch. It’s that ability to generate power from the softness of skating, which I find a dream to watch, and which makes me think that she is a skater worthy of a world senior medal.

    Oh well, I can take some comfort from the fact that she medalled at Junior Worlds & the Senior Grand Prix, won two European medals (the latter being a v. admirable one from her come-back) and made the Olympic Games (albeit once, and only barely).

    I know some of you have mentioned the Munich programme, which is understated and lovely, but I must say that I truly began to love her skating after the 2003 Europeans where she skated to “Tale of Two Cities” and “Spellbound Concerto / Un Sospiro”, choregraphed by Henrik Valentin. (Coincidentally, how come we don’t hear about his work more often?) The two programmes literally took my breath away and it’s a shame I am unable to find any better performances of the routines or indeed clips of the Euro performances on youtube.

    (2) Liashenko – if I’m being brutally honest, I think she could only have medalled at Worlds if others had made lots of mistakes, because of lack of triple-triple, and the the lack of a triple loop. This is not taking anything away from one of my favourite ladies skaters of all time though. Liashenko will always be remembered for her ultra-cool entries into the jumps, her beautiful arm movements, and heart-felt performances (e.g. those subtle moments of beauty in the Grieg Piano Concerto programme, her Tango in 2003, and portrayal of Frida in 2004 – 2005). I believe a strong argument can be made that she deserved the European title in 2004.

    (3) Meier – I think Meier was a bit of a jumping bean in the early days (I remember her Miss Saigon programme, for example) but she only became a more refined skater quite late (around 2006). I like her “light, airy” programmes (e.g. Finding Neverland) and I think that her general skating is fine (in response to a poster’s question above, I do think that Meier has good flow across the ice). She always struggled with the triple loop though and had a bad lip, so technically she only had 3 different triple jumps and she was never a real threat for the World’s podium as a result in my eyes. It goes without saying though that her farewell performance in Bern was simply amazing. I loved the mature, subtle interpretation to the music from “Love in the time of Cholera”. A programme one can watch again and again.

    (4) Sebestyen - My least favourite of the four – some moments of brilliance (around 2003 – 2004), and the best technically, but I found her quite “bland” generally. I recall that in 2004 after she won the Europeans she did deliver a v. strong performance inWorlds (singling the Salchow then performing the rest of the programme almost cleanly?), and deserved a top 5 placement possibly. But even with clean programmes (and without major mistakes from others) she didn’t really have the potential to medal at worlds I don’t think. Anyway, I do like Granny’s skating and was glad that she went back to the cheesy Di Basio Programme from 2003 (which obviously meant a lot to her as it brought her the first European medal) in her final season.

    Can go on forever but I just want to urge everyone to watch Poykio’s performances from 2003! They will make you miss the pre-COP era!!

  14. #14
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    I loved Liashenko; I think she was wonderfully artistic, though as the judges never gave her the presentation marks I thought she deserved it's possible they felt she was too understated to merit anything higher. As Kelvster says, she was often subtle, and perhaps too much so. I remember one FS at Euros in which she landed two triple lutzes and two triple flips (plus a salchow and a toe loop). I'm not sure how many ladies have done that, but even now, nearly ten years later, it can't be many (Meissner and a few of the Russian babies (?) I can't remember who beat her to the title then - was it Sebestyen or Slutskaya? Anyway Elena certainly deserved the win that year, and under CoP probably would have got it. Unfortunately she never seemed able to match her European performances at Worlds; otherwise it's just possible she could have picked up a bronze medal or two.

    For two or three years running early in her career, Julia would make at least one serious error at Euros in the SP, and then perform a great FS which was placed 2nd or 3rd, but in the days of 6.0 she was never going to get a medal that way. Eventually she finished 3rd and then won the title. I feel sorry that I have to say I don't think she deserved the European crown in the year that she won it, and perhaps not in any year. People say that Julia was a great jumper, but it was really only her lutz that was consistently spectacular; her other jumps were great too when she landed them, but so often she would pop them or have some kind of faulty landing. She also often didn't land her second lutz correctly and sometimes fell on it. In addition, her presentation skills never really won me over or convinced me that her interpretation of the music was especially accomplished. So while someone could easily make a case for her being the most successful of these ladies (remembering that she also made the final FS group in Olympics 2002), she's my least favourite of the four.

    Susanna was a beautifully soft and graceful skater who just made too many mistakes in the jumps, and even at her peak needed a second lutz in the FS, which I don't think she ever attempted. In addition, she often seemed to tire during the course of her FS, which most likely was a result of feeling too much tension and anxiety rather than her being unfit. I'm pleased that she got two European medals, including a silver, but I never thought she would medal at Worlds. Nevertheless, she was always a pleasure to watch.

    As for Sarah, she had a kind of incredible delicacy in her skating that I've never seen from anyone else. Perhaps the judges felt she was too delicate, as her presentation marks towards the end of her career were good, but nothing truly special. She could be criticised for never really going out of her comfort zone, but perhaps during the off season she practised with more powerful music, and found, or her coaches decided, that she just couldn't interpret it successfully. As for the jumps, she was pretty solid on the lutz in the SP, and always included a second one in her FS, but often popped it. While she continued to include the flip in her programmes, she always lipped it terribly. It never seemed likely that she would get a medal at Worlds, but like everyone else I was thrilled to see her finally win the European crown, in her last performance as an eligible skater and in her home country. And also with one of the best K&C moments of all time. :
    Last edited by orientalplane; 08-06-2013 at 12:54 PM.
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    I will say that if ANY of these girls had been North American I don't think we would have this thread as they would have a World medal OR come very close (And I am half American & would have been proud for them to have skated for my country).

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    I agree that Liashenko's presentation is subtle and I enjoy her arm movements. However, I do feel like that sometimes her choreography, while in beat with the music, is too deliberate and unnatural (while lacking in some connection with the audience). This was very evident in some of her programs, such as La Boheme or her Grieg program. Another jewel from her is Phytandros in 2002. Yes, it's cheesy St. Preux that skaters use when they need cheesy dramatic music to skate to but I enjoyed it.

    I found Sebestyen's style to be very powerful and appealing, even though many consider her unartistic. And her combination spin is to die for - sharp, fast, centered camel-sit-layback-sit-Biellmann.

    Unfortunately, I think Meier and Poykio really had no chance at a medal post-2006. The top placements were predictably dominated by Asada, Kim, Kostner, Ando, and (later) Rochette when they went clean, and these five were in a league far ahead of the rest. Asada and Kim were considered prodigious who truly had the complete package, Ando had the difficult jumps and packaging, Kostner had exceptional skating skills (and IMO overscored PCS), while Rochette was a satisfying, complete skater who did everything a little better than these 4, though she lacked a consistent 3-3.

    Count me in as a big fan of Poykio's Spellbound Concerto LP! I saw her perform it at Frosty that year on TV (which was splatfest) but I enjoyed the program.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by PashaFan View Post
    I will say that if ANY of these girls had been North American I don't think we would have this thread as they would have a World medal OR come very close (And I am half American & would have been proud for them to have skated for my country).
    I wouldn't be so quick to say that. If they completed in the US for instance, they would often have trouble even making it to Worlds. 2000-03 was characterized by the Kwan-Hughes-Cohen-Nikodinov power group that was very tough for the vast majority of skaters to compete with. 2004-2008 was more manageable. However, 2009-10 would be tough to manage as well - the US skaters always brought their best at Nationals and then proceeded to bomb at Worlds, thus never getting more than 2 spots. There were tough years in the 1990s as well, which were applicable particularly to Liashenko - I doubt Elena, even at her best, could have bested Bobek at 1998 Nats.

    Even if they made it to Worlds, they never actually delivered two strong back-to-back programs when it counted. However, I do agree they should have received higher marks often, and maybe nationality played an issue (thus skaters like Volchkova and Onda got higher scores, though often undeservedly so).

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    I always liked Liashenko better than Volchvoka, and its too bad she didn't do her Mid 2000s Euro program at a worlds. Another one who had nice jumps was Lavrenchuck, although she telegraphed horribly.

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    To Orientalplane: Yes, it was at Euros 2004 when Liashenko laid down the 6 triple programme and was still beaten by Sebestyen. Admittedly Sebestyen had a lot of fire and attack in her long programme too, but overall, I felt that Liashenko should have beaten Sebestyen with her 6 clean triples VS Sebestyen's 4.

    On Poykio: she had her fair share of bad luck in her career. Kettunen skating the performance of her life in Euros 2002 and Poykio finished just one spot behind her so she couldn't go to Salt Lake; being beaten by Slutskaya at Euros in 2005, and back injuries, etc etc.,

    But the one really atrocious incident, I thought, was at Worlds 2004. I was there in Dortmund and Poykio skated in the really tough qualifying group with Michelle Kwan and others. Michelle had a disastrous skate (popping the loop, falling on the 2nd lutz, and was v. slow throughout the programme), while Poykio skated a brilliant long programme (where her only mistake was doubling the second lutz), and was yet placed 4th in her group behind Kwan. Going into the short programme, she skated in the penultimate group and after doubling the flip (her own fault), she was basically buried in the standings and had no chance of making it back to the top ten even after another beautiful free programme.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by shady82 View Post
    I think these four skaters should have gotten more credit than they received. I never understand, for example, why Volchkova was consistently given better marks than Sebestyen and Liashenko when all went cleanly. Apart from her big jumps, the rest of Volchkova's skating is lacking - sleep-inducing presentation ability, mediocre spins.
    Agree 100%. I regularly fell asleep watching Volchkova's programs. Beautiful girl with great (but not that consistent) jumps.

    Liashenko has to be praised for her longevity. She had terrible training conditions, but always had wonderfully choreographed, beautifully interpreted programs. In particular, I liked her "Frida" FS and Phillip Glass SP (which I can't seem to find anywhere). The fact that she was trying two 3Lz and two 3F towards the end of her career was pretty remarkable. Yes, her telegraphed jumps and lack of a 3Lo held her back from being on the World podium, but she was lovely to watch.

    Of the four, I think Sebestyen had the most potential. I also think her lack of consistency was due to training conditions, not work ethic or talent. She had the most natural spring on her jumps, only Gracie Gold comes close nowadays. I saw her land 3S+3Lo, running threes into 3Lo, etc. with ease at 2003 Worlds. Definitely should've been a multiple European medalist -- check out these magnificent performances:

    1999 Europeans http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLAZpEpQotE

    2001 Europeans http://youtu.be/qA8SeKBwx5c (the jumps are insane)

    I'll always have a soft spot for Susanna Poykio and agree that her 2003 programs were just brilliant. Probably the best-dressed skater in recent history too.

    So glad Sarah Meier finally got her European title.

    The problem is that all of them skated in the era of Slutskaya, Kwan and/or Hughes/Cohen and later Kim/Asada/Ando and it was very hard to break those trifectas. All talented skaters with long careers, though.

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