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Fumie Suguri VS Sasha Cohen: Who had the better career?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by iarispiralllyof, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. Marco

    Marco Well-Known Member

    Actually it wasn't so guaranteed that she would make Worlds at all since the beginning. She and Arakawa were close competitors even back in junior days and they were back and forth at National for years. Suguri won out on world team selection in 1997 and 1999, but Arakawa took the all important 1998 spot, and Onda the 2000 spot out of nowhere.

    Things got easier since 2001 when Suguri qualified a second spot for JPN but then again more skaters came on to the scene to fight for those spots.

    In 2002, she actually had to battle out for her own spot for SLC at Nationals against Arakawa who was also skating very strongly that season, because Onda had luckily made the Olympic team by default by qualifying for the GPF due to easy competition at her events, leaving her and Arakawa to fight for the remaining spot. (dumb and unfair qualifying rule for JPN, IMO) Arakawa had landed 7 triples and 1 3/3 and medalled at both her GPs that season.

    I agree that Onda was a not a good skater compared to a bunch of other Japanese skaters around that time but she had killer consistency and was attempting 3axels. If not for her deadly flat foot making her unable to do harder combos, she would be the Japanese Slutskaya. She was a definite threat to Suguri until 2004.

    I specifically remember in 2004, all the big competitions were won by different Japanese ladies (GPF by Suguri, 4CCs by Ota, Jr Worlds by Ando and Worlds by Arakawa). Now that's some depth. DOn't forget Arakawa and Ando were landing 3/3s left and right, and she couldn't even do a 3loop anymore.

    And given her accomplishments by 2005, she still had to fight out with Onda for the last spot for Worlds at 4CCs. (and both had nail biting clean performances there)

    And then of course there was also 2006 as you mentioned where Nakano also joined the competition with great momentum (she had won NHK and qualified for GPF that season).

    I guess my original point was that I understood why Suguri couldn't always peak at Worlds or Olympics because she often had to peak elsewhere to even allow her season to continue.

    Great summary.

    I do think too much credit was given to Cohen's Olympic medal when Suguri also had a solid competition and was perhaps a bit unlucky in that, all of USA's support went to Cohen (in Kwan's absence) and all of JPN's support went to Arakawa (and all of RUS's support went to Slute). It wans't even like Cohen went against all odds and skated clean. She fell twice as usual. Suguri and Arakawa actually had very similar jump contents.

    It's still a big deal and a deal breaker when comparing their careers IMO, but I wish people had acknowledged that that medal didn't mean Cohen was the better competitor. If, on the flip side, the judges rightfully marked Slute down and Suguri ended up with the bronze, Cohen's silver would probably mean a lot less when comparing their careers. I honestly feel the marks should have been closer for 2nd to 4th.

    I do think it's interesting and also a bit unlucky that Suguri and Cohen both skated similarly at their 2 Olympics and Cohen came out on top both times, under different judging systems. I honestly would have Suguri ahead of Cohen at least in 2002.
  2. sylvestercat

    sylvestercat Member

    Fumie was just a mediocre international level skater herself in 1997-2000. So while I agree she didn't have a clear path out of Japan those years, that isn't due to competition. That was a period where the first good Japanese since Sato hadn't even really emerged yet, and wouldn't until Fumie in early 2001.

    Yeah things got easier when Fumie herself actually became a good skater herself, and it would be years before she really had to worry about her spot on the team again.

    Come on, we both know Fumie >>>>>>>>> Shizuka in 2002. Fumie was never not making that team. Regardless of their rule they would have kicked Onda off for Fumie in a heartbeat too.

    Ando was a threat to Suguri in 2003 only IMO, and as there were 3 Japanesse spots for that year, Fumie was never in remote danger of not making that years team either.

    I think your comment greatly downplays Slutskaya's abilities. Slutskaya is a MUCH stronger all around skater than Onda could ever dream of being. Even if I think her spins are a bit overrated as they travel, and some of her position are sloppy, she is still one of the better spinners of her era, and had very strong footwork. She was also a powerful skater, with very strong basic skating. Her jumps were much better quality and more polished than Onda's, even with the bit of sloppiness she also had on them sometimes. Onda is the definition of being truly just a jumper. She literally had nothing else. Her spins were embarrassing, that sit spin, ugh. Then watching her stroke around without even attempting to hold her arms properly. She was a gross skater on the ice.

    I also don't think she is that consistent. She was only 17th at the 2002 Olympics. I didn't see her skate, but I can guarantee you already she had a total meltdown and probably missed almost all her jumps to place that low. She was only 11th at the 2003 worlds after being a contender for a medal after a great season with a few grand prix victories. I did see her skate there, and she missed many of her jumps, and competed nothing like she had earlier in the season. In between that she was 5th at the 2002 worlds though. She skated poorly at her 3 grand prix finals after skating strong performances on the regular grand prix each season. She skated very poorly at the 2000 worlds, with many jump misses too. That doesn't sound like a consistent skater to me. Maybe you meant she was consistent at Nationals, I don't know.

    I will say she had decent competition to make the team in 2005 and 2006, although I still would have been stunned either year if she didn't make it as it would require someone like Onda (or in 2006 Nakano) pushing her off, and I just don't see that. In 2001-2004 I cant accept the idea, considering the number of spots, it was at all a challenge for her to make it.

    I don't agree. Kwan often peaked at Nationals and then again at worlds. I still disagree with the idea Suguri had to peak at Nationals any year from 2001-2005. Maybe 2005 she had to peak at Four Continents, and that is why she disappointed at worlds that particular year. I still strongly believe she could have skated better at worlds in 2004, 2005, and even Olympics/worlds in 2006 and missed opportunities for herself by not skating to her potential in each of those instances. The only reason I started this whole point was that I dismiss the idea Sasha is this horrible competitor who threw away all these chances, while Fumie is some godly competitor who always gave her best when it counted. They are really only in the same league as competitors IMO. Sasha is just someone who potential to actually win, not just medal like Fumie, and someone people wanted to see win unlike Fumie where nobody really cared, so Sasha takes more flak. All that said Sasha almost always had considerably more pressure on her than Fumie too. She was always skating for a gold medal, not just a bronze medal like Fumie.

    1. I do agree Fumie should have beaten Sasha in 2002. However neither deserved a medal IMO. Thus it wouldn't change Sasha's Olympic silver vs Fumie's no Olympic medal.

    2. I am totally convinced Sasha deserved her silver in 2006, and 4th place overall was the correct result for Fumie. Irina was a bit overscored, and could even be 4th behind Fumie in the LP (although neithers skate that night impressed me at all), but even so her great short program would still give the bronze.

    3. Sasha would have been backed as U.S #1 in 2006 even had Kwan skated. Kwan would be an emotional favorite but the USFSA is no fool, they wanted to win, and Sasha was always their better bet at that point. As reigning world silver medalist and with greater mastery of COP she had more scoring potential than Kwan, and despite her inconsistency was the better bet to skater cleaner between her and a many questions/back from injury Kwan.

    4. I don't like to consider skaters unlucky to win or lose medals. The 2002 and 2006 events weren't spectacular and Fumie still couldn't skate well enough to medal, nor merit one IMO (4th place is the correct finish for her both times). She was very unlucky with her short program result in 2002, but her long program skate isnt what she would need to medal even over subpar Irina and subpar Kwan anyway IMO. So I don't feel she is unlucky really.

    If you do though I could say Sasha was unlucky to not win the 2004 worlds when she skated at a performance at a cheesefest 2 weeks later which would have easiliy won her those worlds, and when Shizuka should have been 5th or 6th in the short program of those worlds anyway. Or that she was unlucky to not win in 2003 when she did a performance at a cheesefest between Nationals and worlds which could have beaten Kwan, or atleast greatly challenged her and finished a very close 2nd to her, at both Nationals and worlds. Or unlucky the only time she managed a cleanish skate at a big event (2005 worlds) she was facing an unbeatable Slutskaya skating her best ever, with all the momentum of her most dominant year, and on home ice, and only a lady doing 3 quads could deny her. I could say Fumie was lucky to win 2 of her 3 world medals in post Olympic worlds with key people absent, and super lucky to medal in the 1 remaining one over Sasha in 2003 where it was only the unbalanced qualifying rounds that won her that medal in the end even with Sasha's falls.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
  3. Marco

    Marco Well-Known Member

    That is due to competition though. Just not high level competition.

    Suguri, Arakawa and Onda were equally mediocre and inconsistent in general in that era that any one of them would win the musical chair and make Worlds/ Olympics and finish outside top ten from 1997 to 2000. But if Suguri couldn't even deliver decently at Nationals (like 1998 and 2000), she wouldn't even go to Worlds/ Olympics those years. Yes, she wouldn't be a factor even if she could go, but you could see why she would feel it's important to peak at Nationals starting from that pre-elite era. (and her rivalry with Arakawa probably started here too)

    Come to think of it, Suguri was never a strong GP skater, I think probably for this very reason.

    The JPN Fed had clearly announced before the GP season started that whoever made GPF would automatically make the SLC team. And Onda met that criterion (luckily) and had withdrawn from Nationals (smartly) right after she was named. I am not sure that, if Arakawa had beaten Suguri at Nationals, whether they would dare/ bother to blatantly ignore that rule in favour of Suguri who was only like the reigning 7th place finisher from Worlds. [The US Fed was taking enough heat this past season when they chose Wagner onto the Sochi team, even though they had clear discretion and was much, much more justified to do so.]

    Between Suguri and Arakawa, Suguri didn't have an impressive GP season whereas Arakawa did but was just unluckily to have been assigned to some tough GPs and she ended up barely miss qualifying for GPF I think (geez this was 12 years ago!). Arakawa debuted Turandot (original) and landed 7 triples including a cheated 3/3 at each of her GP free skates. So heading into Nationals, it was Arakawa who had the momentum with the stronger current season even though it was Suguri who had the stronger 2001.

    So making the 2002 team was not as guaranteed for Suguri as you think. Suguri skated great there to make the team of course.

    Yes, not for 2003. Ando might have been too young for Worlds anyway.

    Ota was the wild card in 2004 but ended up not being a threat at Nationals anyway.

    Absolutely. That wasn't my intention though to say they were identical. I just meant they were both going to be pure athletic skaters who outjump their rivals.

    She was consistent at GPs and almost always did enough to medal. You could always count on her to land 5+ triples. That's how she took the first SLC spot. She wasn't always going to be clean, but neither was Suguri. I think Onda was a threat to Suguri because there was always a good chance she could outjump Suguri. Of course, if Suguri delivered at Nationals, Onda had no chance. But fact is she did impact Suguri's chances in 2000, 2002, 2005 and arguably 2006.

    Well Suguri had to go to a skate-off with Onda at 2005 4CCs, and Onda was clean there. So it's a real possibility for Onda to take that final spot. Again, since Suguri also delivered, the issue was moot. But there's no guarantee that she would. And there wouldn't even be a skate off if Suguri had delivered at Nationals.

    Nakano had a lot of momentum and points in 2006 after winning NHK and making GPF. Ando was guaranteed a spot to Turin and so did Arakawa. IIRC the point system that year was complicated and it required Suguri to win and have Nakano and Onda place very low for her to qualify. It ultimately worked that way, to much relief of the JPN Fed I think, since she hadn't won Nationals or landed 6 triples in 2 years.

    You don't want to compare anyone to Kwan. :p

    Of course. But other than 2004 Worlds, she wouldn't even get to compete at those events if she hadn't focused aon peaking earlier.

    People expect different things from them. A medal is a victory for Suguri, but not really for Cohen.

    Having said that, Suguri did skate close to her best / near clean at big events more times than Cohen did.

    Neither were impressed but at least Suguri wasn't sloppy.

    The US Fed might have to use some clout to secure a bronze for Kwan if she was there and was skating remotely decent. The JPN Fed on the other hand would only put all their focus on Arakawa since they knew 2 JPN ladies on the podium was not possible.

    I don't feel Suguri deserved to medal in 2002 either but at least she deserved to beat Cohen there. Her skating close to her best yet losig to Cohen who was slow and fell just set a very bad precedent for the judges to follow for their rivalry.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014
  4. sylvestercat

    sylvestercat Member

    Since 1997-2000 aren't years I was ever referencing when Fumie didn't skate her best at worlds, or missed chances of doing something due to not skating her best at worlds, they really don't matter to my point though.

    Considering Sasha was allowed to beat Fumie 3 times at worlds after the 02 Games, including once she arguably did not deserve to (2003), and for a grand prix final title as well, I don't see how it set a bad precedent for their rivalry. That was the last time Sasha ever beat Fumie she probably didn't deserve to.

    Come to think of it also regardless what you think of the Japansese competition and depth the U.S was overall deeper and stronger than Japan in ladies skating from 2001-2006. 2001-2003 it is a blowout for the U.S, and 2004-2006 it is a toss up. The U.S were still in their golden years, and the dominant country in ladies skating, while Japan was still nothing like they would be from 2007-today. So by that logic Sasha had to worry just as much about making it out of the U.S or peaking for Nationals as Fumie did. And if Sasha didn't have to worry as much about qualifying as Fumie did, despite not having an easier home field, that would just prove she must be a much better skater. Lets pretend Sasha was Japanese. Even if you think Fumie had to be worried about qualifying in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, Sasha wouldn't have had to any of those years.

    My only point was I don't think Sasha is a bad competitor by any stretch, and I don't think Fumie is a magnificent one either. I put them above the same level in mental toughness and consistency. The one some are talking in this thead Fumie is Michelle Kwan (not in peak skating but mental strength) and Sasha is Nicole Bobek.

    As for any medal but gold being a failure for Sasha, and any medal being a victory for Fumie, that again speaks volumes to who is the better skater doesn't it. Even while I agree with your point in general though the only 3 years I think Sasha could have even reasonably shot for the gold were 2004 worlds, 2006 Olympics, and 2006 worlds. 2002 she wasn't a good enough skater yet and couldn't beat an out of her skin Hughes in SLC or a clean Irina at worlds. 2003 after her disaesterous Nationals she probably wasn't ever going to be allowed to beat a clean Kwan at worlds. 2005 she was never going to be allowed to beat Irina. So in the only 3 times she could have won gold, Fumie only medaled in 1 of them, so only 1 time Sasha really "failed" did Fumie succeed even by your measure in the same events.

    Looking at some of the events Fumie disappointed in I don't think her peaking too early was a factor. 2005 worlds she fell on her triple lutz in the short and doubled her 2nd triple lutz in the long. Both stupid and very uncharacteristic mistakes for her, as those are jumps she almost never misses even in her worst competitions. Had she just not missed 1 of those 2 things she would have easily beaten Kostner and Kwan for the bronze. She had to duplicate her 4CC's performances to have a chance of silver, which might have been hard for her to having to peak at 4CCs to make the team, but she didn't have to go near that to podium. Her qualifying round skate at the 2004 worlds is inexplicable, and cant be put down to anything when she completed the competition with a beautiful long program. Her flat and uninspiring LP in Turin which cost her a medal isn't easily explained, since she was skating fabulously in practices. Again not saying she is a bad competitor, but I don't see much difference either way between her and Sasha who is quite a fighter and a very underrated competitor, all because of peoples disappointment she didn't win a big title.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2014