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What if Tara Lipinski had gone the Kim Yuna route?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by missing, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. missing

    missing Well-Known Member

    What would have happened if Tara Lipinski had won Worlds/Olympics, then taken a year or two off, let her body heal (and grow) and returned to competitive skating?

    What impact, if any, would her return have had on Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes, Sasha Cohen or Irina Slutskaya?

    Would she have been able to make the transition to IJS skating?
  2. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

    There was no pressure because the US had Kwan! I just don't think there was any pressure. Like the extreme pressure of South Korea would lead Kim to 2011 worlds and she only became interested again herself in 2013! And then so with Lipinski she really accomplished everything and there was no pressure and she was happy! Not to mention her injuries were really severe and Kim is just not even the Lipinski zone of injury! There's just lots of differences and Lipinski was done!

    Even if she came back for 2002 that would have been it and she would never have dealt with IJS!
  3. JJS5056

    JJS5056 Well-Known Member

    Injury aside, there was little room for Lipinski come 2002. The ladies field was stacked, both domestically and internationally, so there is little chance Tara would have returned even if she had been healthy.

    We usually see comebacks when the skater sees an opportunity to make the big teams because of the lack of strength in their own country, or when this lack of strength causes them or their federation to want to gain spots back. Neither was the case in 2001 or 2002. It would have been fairly obvious that she would've had to regain her top form to even contend with Hughes, Cohen and Nikodinov for the second and third spots, and Tara never struck me as the type of person who would have enjoyed competing for the sake of competing. She was in it to win it and I don't think she would have been able to realistically compete with Kwan and Slutskaya at their peak in 2001-2002.

    If we assume there were more altruistic motives, a la Witt in 1994, where she would have come back for reasons other than qualifying for a team or winning any medals, than I imagine she would've likely won silver or bronze at Nationals in 2001, battled Hughes for World bronze, and then placed 4th at 2002 Nationals before retiring once again.

    I think an older Lipinski would've lost her triple-triples, but been able to retain 7 triples. Now, she was a fierce competitor, so maybe she could've kept her consistency, but if she lost that fire even just a little, I think she would've fallen behind Hughes in Vancouver and been passed by both Sarah and Sasha come 2002. I don't think her artistry would've developed to the point that it would've given her a huge advantage over those 2... let's remember she was only 18 and 19 in 01 and 02, so still very young. I think there was a real limit to her artistic potential, and this was at a time when Kwan was at her best in that regard with her best programs.

    In reality, it's a total crapshoot to predict. We don't know what jumps she would've kept as her body matured even without injury, what consistency she would've kept especially after taking years off, how her artistry would've matured, and how the judges would've treated her. Would they have held her up as Olympic Champion, or given her no breaks as Slutskaya overtook her as the #1 threat technically, and Hughes/Cohen challenged Kwan domestically?

    The best I can do is assume the point I made earlier and that's that Tara always struck me as someone who competed to win. I think she was done for good regardless of injury given the depth of the field by 2001. She had little else to prove that would've motivated a comeback otherwise.
  4. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    I think had Tara been healthy enough to and kept competing with no stop post 98 she might have continued to do very well. Her artistry improved alot as a pro, and if she could mantain her 98 jumps (again not realistic as she wasnt healthy, but if she were), and kept her rep up, she could have gone on to one of the great careers.

    However if she just came back for 2002, or even 2001 I dont see her doing that well. The field by then was alot deeper than 97-98 and Kwan, Slutskaya, Butyrskaya, Hughes, Cohen, Suguri, and others had all become more established in her absence. Others had 3-3 combos by then. I just dont see her coming back at that point and doing that well. Given the performances at the 2002 Nationals she would have been hard pressed to even make the Olympic team, especialy if she couldnt do any 3-3s anymore.
  5. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

    ^One difference I noticed between 98 and 02 was that nearly every woman was doing 3z-2t, 3f and 2x in the SP by 02. Only a handful of ladies were doing 3f as a solo jump in 98, others were doing a 3l and even a 3t
  6. JJS5056

    JJS5056 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I believe the original post is assuming she took a break. Continuing through 1999 and 2000 is a whole different topic; depending on when she began hitting growth spurts and what her motivation would've been like having already won every major title possible, it's likely she could've at least regained her national and world titles in 1999, but I can't her holding up against a rejuvenated Kwan and Slutskaya in Nice.

    The injury isn't the only obstacle she faced in terms of keeping her technical merit. She was due to grow at some point and face motivational issues even in this dream world where she would've avoided major injury.

    I can't see her retaining the triple-triples after growing, regardless of injury. One of her sequences, perhaps, but that would've done her little good as even Butyrskaya was attempting those in 2000.
  7. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    Would she have been able to still do a triple-triple at the 99 events do you think. I dont think she would have beaten Butyrskaya at the 99 Worlds for the gold without one, or even Kwan at 99 Nationals as Kwan did do a triple-triple, and had just one fall as her only mistake.
  8. JJS5056

    JJS5056 Well-Known Member

    It's impossible to predict and would've depended largely on whether she would've been able to at least retain her ability to perform 7-triple jump programs consistently.

    If she was, and she had programs that kept up with Kwan artistically, than I think she would've won 1999 Nationals easily. Kwan coasted to gold that year without any competition, but a 7-triple Lipinski would've won the technical mark easily, and precedent between the two showed that when Lipinski outskated Kwan technically, her artistic marks were always high enough to give her the win. I have to give her the benefit of the doubt that she would've at least improved her presentation enough that year to keep the gap the same as it was in 1997-1998, which was .1 at most. By 1999 Nationals, Lipinski would've beaten Kwan at every international event from the 1997 CSF onward aside from 1997 Skate America, so I can't imagine the judges not putting a clean Lipinski on top.

    The thing is, Lipinski was a 5.9 presentation skater by 1998 (there were several 5.7/5.8 in 1997)... It's extremely rare for a skater to slip backwards artistically, and I can't imagine the only time it happening would be for a reigning Olympic Champion. Had she kept up 7-triple programs, there was really no room for Kwan or Butyrskaya to gain on a 5.9/5.9 performance, especally in 1999. By 2000, Kwan could've squeezed in with 5.8/6.0 performances, but she wasn't performing to that level in 1999, as much as I loved her programs that year.

    By 2000, Slutskaya was also setting a new tech standard and Kwan had her 3t-3t back. Lipinski's marks could've fallen by then, but in 1999, there just wasn't anyone showing anything better and I think she would've won both titles easily with clean, 7 triple, no 3-3 performances.

    This is all hypothetical to a degree of being pointless, but there are some pieces of the scenario worth talking about I suppose.
  9. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    I dont see Tara getting 5.9s technically without a triple-triple though, and I dont see her getting 5.9s on presentation without a triple-triple either. Basically she needed a triple-triple, preferably the triple loop-triple loop, to get those kind of scores. 7 triples but no triple-triple and I dont see those scores for her. Atleast not as early as 99, which was too soon for her to have improved much artistically, in spins, in the power of her jumps. All the events you are referring to she was armed with her famous triple loop-triple loop, and without it she probably only beats Kwan at the 97 Nationals.
  10. JJS5056

    JJS5056 Well-Known Member

    I think you are 1) overestimating the importance of her triple loop-triple loop, and 2) underestimating the power her reputation would've had on her presentation marks. You're also adding unreasonable variables to the mix. You are assuming that not only would she have not improved her artistry, but that she actually - as Olympic Champion - would've regressed and received lower marks for clean performances than she ever had before against the same competition.

    She would've won both the 1997 Nationals and 1997 CSF without the 3-3, assuming a 7th triple was added, which would've given her all the reputation she needed to be scored as a contender in Lausanne. She won the SP without a 3-3 and needed to only be placed 2nd in the LP to hold off Kwan. No way was Slutskaya wedging between the two, regardless of 3-3 from Lipinski, having been in 6th place and being so rough artistically at that time.

    With the World title, little changes in 1998 and I could be persuaded otherwise, but I don't think her triple-triple combination is what sealed the deal for her in Nagano. All commentary on the event was that it was Tara's speed and attack vs. Michelle's cautiousness that made the difference. It can be argued her attempting and landing the triple-triple added to the impression of power and excitement, but nobody at the time as questioning Kwan's chances without the triple toe-triple toe. 3-3's just weren't a game-changer at that point. It had become Lipinski's trademark, but with circumstances the way they were, I don't think it was needed.

    Regardless, I don't think that one combination alone is what gave her 5.9s for presentation. Many before and after landed difficult combinations and failed to get those kind of marks for presentation, while many before and after did less technically and scored higher. Same argument for her technical scores. She would've been the reigning Olympic champion and former World champion. There's no way she was not scoring 5.9 technically for a clean, 7 triple performance.

    One only has to look at the scores of Butyrskaya, Slutskaya and Kwan to see that. All received 5.9 on both sets of marks for performances with 3-3s (or 3-3 sequences) and without. What matters is keeping up with what the rest of the field has set as the standard. In 1999, that standard was just barely 7 triples, something Butyrskaya eeked out in Helsinki for one of the only times in her career. Had Lipnski, reigning Olympic champion, matched that count - repeating the more difficult lutz to boot - she was certain to receive 5.9s for technical merit. After that season, I agree. As I stated, once Slutskaya raised the technical standard, triple-triples flew to the top of conversation, and per my last post, Lipinski's scores sans 3-3 would have begun to drop.

    Butyrskaya was never even seen in the same league as Lipinski in terms of presentation; it's just unrealistic to assume that would've changed in one season. It would've been much closer since Maria hadn't skated a clean performance to that level yet, but it wouldn't have been enough to defeat a 7-triple Tara.

    Nationals would've been harder, but the only way this makes sense to talk about is to assume Kwan skates the same and that Lipinski skates a clean, 7 triple program. If we assume anything else, the whole discussion becomes more of a crapshoot than it already is. But, I stand by the fact that Lipinski, having only lost 1 international to Kwan in over 2 years, would've defeated Kwan's performance at Nationals that year with 7 triples, no 3-3, and following the same pattern of artistic growth she had been on over the last 3 years- that is, staying close enough to Kwan that a clean skate would be enough to earn 5.9s.

    Probably my last post on the topic as I have a feeling we are going to start introducing more variables and it starts losing the fun the further from reality the game gets. In reality, Tara sans injury would've quit as soon as she felt she wasn't competitive. If she needed a 3-3 in 1999, she would've had it or quit. Ditto 2000. And, if it got to the point that she needed more than what her body could produce technically and she couldn't make up for it in artistic improvements, she would've quit. The girl loved to win, and destroyed her body to get an Olympic gold. She wasn't losing the 1999 World title to Maria Butyrskaya.
  11. Lnt175

    Lnt175 Member

    I agree Lipinski could've won the world title over Butrskaya had she done a clean 7 triple LP. Butyrskaya had consistently lost to Tara in all seasons before. All Lipinski had to do (which of course as well said wouldv'e been impossible given her health deterioration) is hit her jumps. Her presentation was already on the rise- at least in the judges eyes- and even as a pro we saw her doing very well in that department. Actually her pro programs (at least most of them in her first year and half as a pro) were well done artistically, and would've been competitive with Buytrskaya.

    By the early 2000s' however, we not only had Slutskaya, but also Hughes breaking out the 3/3s 3/3 sequences. I agree realistically Lipinski would've not competitive anymore if her technical skills were not keeping up. Even Kwan who has some of the best artistic programs at this time (and Lipinski never came close to an artistic masterpiece), had to keep up her 3/3s to remain on top.
  12. KimGOAT

    KimGOAT Active Member

    With her hip ailment she had to retire and could not have done well either if she continued or came back. Maybe would be capable of all 5 standard triples and a 5/6 triple LP for awhile, and then gradually lost those as well. Might have come a distant 2nd to Kwan and a distant 2nd to Butyrskaya at the 1999 Worlds only due to the super weak field in both, and then declined in standings from there. By 2002 would have no chance, based on her pro skating wouldn't even have a triple lutz or triple flip anymore by then.
  13. leapfrogonice

    leapfrogonice Active Member

    Hugely rhetorical question I presume, given how Tara's body was so damaged from her repetitive training style. If I recall correctly, she required surgery to both of her hips by the time she was 18.
  14. leafygreens

    leafygreens Well-Known Member

    The biggest difference between Tara and Yuna is that Tara was not, even at her peak, heads and shoulders above all other competitors, whereas Yuna can win with an easy cushion of 20 points. Next year's Olys is basically over. Could we have said that about Tara in 2002 judging by her pro-form? Even her 1998 win was close.

    There was always talk about Tara "tarnishing her gold" if she had continued, because everyone knew that no second gold was certain for Tara. I don't blame her for turning pro. She took it and ran, which is why the skating world was a bit perturbed with her. There's no rule that says you can't win it all as a child star, quit, and not give back to the sport, but this is what she did. The skating world wanted more from her, but she was under no obligation to give, and had no qualms about flaunting it.

    This rubbed people the wrong way and Tara got flack. She has walked on eggshells about the reason she retired, only emphatically said that it was not her hip. I think she wanted to avoid making more people mad after she broke a contract to rake in dough by turning pro and then use that millions to fund her acting career. That's why she hems and haws in all interviews when discussing the end of her skating career. She has never come right out and said "I quit because I wanted to enjoy the fruits of my labor ($$$), not work, and dabble in acting" but that's what she did. Connect the dots.

    I believe Sarah has not gotten the same flack because she took the more "honorable," workmanlike route of competing another year, and then went to college (although some people make fun of her breezy post-college life.)

    Tara would never have gone the Yuna route. She would have continued only if she did not win the gold, and her hip was not reason for retiring. Evidence:

    1) Tara said, in a more recent interview, that she would have competed "another 20 years" if she had gotten silver in 1998. No mention of hip preventing her from competing another 20 years.

    2) In an interview with Aunt Joyce, they discuss how Tara was doing a full arsenal of triples in professional shows up until 2002. (after the operation - 2000). She clearly didn't want to be doing amateur skating anymore, even though she was capable.

    3) Tara has stated that her hip was a "huge misconception" about why she retired.

    4) Tara has stated that the competitive world was too much of a strain on her parents. She had already won the biggest prize of all. Once was enough and no reason to put her family through that again. Capitali$e on it.

    Final thoughts: Despite Tara's full arsenal of triples, she was not doing the 3/3 in 2002, and never had great artistry, even after improving as a pro (Compare Tara's artistry to Sasha's.) 2002 was the strongest team we've ever had. In hindsight Tara made a good decision to quit when she did. As clean as everyone was that year, I don't believe Tara's pro-form could have kept up with it. Being gold-medal level wasn't a breeze for Tara like it is for Yuna.
  15. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    Tara said, in a more recent interview, that she would have competed "another 20 years" if she had gotten silver in 1998. No mention of hip preventing her from competing another 20 yearss

    Wow this is interesting. I had always believed strongly it was her hip problems (which were very very real, her pro career and all the surgeries made this evident) that ended her career, and felt very sorry for her that such an incredibly promising career which could have been one of the best ever potentially was cut short. If she really said that though it seems my initial belief was wrong. She knows herself and her body better than everyone. Although I do wonder how she is so confident she could have gone on competing amateur that long, as she did have multiple hip surgeries which she did not recover that well from.

    I saw her around 2001 and 2002 in several pro shows and competitions and she could barely land a triple toe by then (and usually did not), which was obviously due to her damage hip and the lost strength from years of hip injuries, which in the real World makes any thoughts of her competing amateur in 2002 laughable.
  16. giselle23

    giselle23 Well-Known Member

    Agree. My understanding is that she damaged her hip training for the Olympics. I don't remember when she had her first surgery--1999 or 2000?. She came back for a while after that to skate in shows, but needed surgery again as I recall. If Tara hadn't won in '98, she wouldn't have had another chance.
  17. kuzytalent

    kuzytalent Banned Member

    Tara couldnt continue and even more impossible return. She was injured and it affected her jumping ability immediately. I agree with those who said she could be 2nd at the 99 Nationals but wouldnt be so sure she would easily win silver at the 99 Worlds. I would see only 4 or 5 triples for Tara in 99 and that wouldnt be enough for even silver at the 99 Worlds. Kwan fell in the SP but skated very well in the LP there to be 2nd to Butyrskaya in that phase and come from 4th to silver. Malinina and Soldatova had very good perfomrances both. Tara with only 4 or 5 triples would be around 4th place overall there.

    From there it would be all downhill. The field kept getting deeper and her own jumping and skating would have only got worse. She was too injured and physically limited to factor in. Maybe if the field was as weak as 97 and 98 she could medal even with 3 triples, but it didnt stay that weak.
  18. skateboy

    skateboy Well-Known Member

    It's interesting to speculate as to what Tara would have done, had she stayed in. In a very recent interview she claimed that, had she won silver in Nagano, she would have stayed in for sure, as her goal was to win the Olympics.

    Of course, her injuries are now well documented and perhaps they would have kept her from from competing for more than a couple of seasons after 1998.
  19. Lnt175

    Lnt175 Member

    Agree that none of Tara's wins even at her peak were definitive wins. Without her incredible consistency, which she had in spades, she wouldn't have come back at all, as she would have no chance. Many felt she was a judges favorite, but I don't think that was the case. She had to skate perfectly to have any chance to win gold; that is not the case with Kim. She lost a GP event, as reigning World champ to Hubert. On top of that she lost the LP at 97 worlds, even while going clean, and almost lost the world title as a result. Even her GPF wins, she was only about one mistake to losing both. Her only definitive win was the 97 nats, and thats because Kwan melted down.
  20. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

    She could have won 1998 worlds. I don't know much beyond that. Didn't she retire after the Olympics because of her hip? I don't think her injury would have allowed her to remain competitive. Could she even skate in 2000? I think her ability to skate those 7 triple programs packed with 3/3's would just have diminished...much like how Kwan at the end of her career could barely muster 5 triples. Except it probably would have happened around 1999-2000 for Tara.
  21. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    Here are some of Tara's pro outings. This was the 99/2000 World Pros in December 1999:


    Not bad, she still could do a triple lutz apparently. I dont think this level of skating would win a World Amateur title even in 1999 though, let alone in 2000, but it is hard to tell what she would be capable of just by a pro performance.

    Here she is at Ice Wars in fall of 1998. A less impressive outing but she was coming off her but she was coming off the first of many injuries:


    Here is Tara at the fall 2002 Ice Wars which I believe is one of the last times she ever skated seriously. This is the point I would say her artistry and presentation look really improved, although she absolutely couldnt do any of the difficult jumps anymore by then, but did do a couple of nice easier triples still. I believe she had already had 2 major hip surgeries by that point:

  22. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    She definitely wasnt a judges favorite. She came up at the right time when the womens field became a huge mess in the 96-97 season. Almost everyone who was top 10 at the 96 Worlds was either out altogether, retired, injured, slumping badly. So a young kid coming up doing some of the most difficult jumps ever, and perfectly skating 7 triple programs everytime couldnt be ignored, especialy after she won U.S Nationals.

    She actually lost all her grand prix meetings with Slutskaya (before the final that year). They kept drawing in the same events, atleast 2 anyway, and Irina was one of those slumping and didnt skate well in those, and still beat Tara who did. I have no doubt with Kwan's problems and Chen's absence, Slutskaya was the one the judges wanted to see ascend to the top of womens skating that year, but except for the LP at Worlds she didnt skate well and so they were left with no choice but to reward Tara. Even as reigning World Champion she still had to skate perfectly to win important competitions, as you said, and remained the underdog to Kwan. She definitely fought for all her victories.
  23. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    This part of her encyclopedia page is especialy interesting:

    It seems she has 3 different versions of what in fact happened at 3 different times. What is undeniable though is she kept reinjuring her hip badly after the 98 Olympics.
  24. TheIronLady

    TheIronLady Well-Known Member

    She could have made the come back only if she changed her name to Lipinski Tara.
  25. leapfrogonice

    leapfrogonice Active Member

    Good one :lol:
  26. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    While I agree that injury appears to have ended Tara's competitive career at age 15 I think people are forgetting that she had incredible charisma and presence on the ice, especially on camera. It would have been interesting to see how she could have developed as a performer if she had had a longer career. I think she would have been a force to reckon with in that area even if other skaters managed to supersede her technically.
  27. TripleWallie

    TripleWallie Member

    She was not the super dominant skater Yuna is at her peak. It's highly unlikely Tara could have had the same success in subsequent years (winning additional World and Olympic titles). And she wasn't as smart in managing her injuries. Yuna had faced big injuries before, too, to her back in particular, but luckily for her she didn't overtrain like Tara did and ruin her body. I'm sure there's a good reason she's avoided that triple loop. :lol:
  28. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

    I don't think continuing after 98 or coming back for 2002 was an option for Tara. Her hip was already irreparably damaged and she was lucky to get thru that season.

    I suspect the posters above are right in thinking the USFS felt no great desire or need for her to continue.
  29. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    Hmmm I think the USFSA would have supported Tara continuing strongly if she were willing and able. Besides Kwan they didnt have another top level contender emerge until Hughes in 2001. There wasnt alot of depth initially post Nagano.