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What separates Kwan's artistry from Ashley Wagner's?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Kwantumleap, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. Kwantumleap

    Kwantumleap Well-Known Member

    Ashley was quoted recently by icenetwork saying

    I decided to compare one of Michelle's more exotic early LPs, Taj Mahal, with Ashley's Sampson and Delilah.

    Kwan Taj Mahal 96 SA

    Wagner Sampson and Delilah 12 TEB

    I admire her interest in reviving American skating and trying to pick up Kwan's torch. When I compare the two videos the biggest technical difference I notice is that Kwan seemed to have a few less linking moves to process between jumps. More subjectively, Kwan seemed to string her choreography along with the music, but I feel that Ashley's delivery of the choreography does not flow from one gesture to the next. It also feels like Kwan had greater command of her technique than Ashley Wagner does, though Wagner has developed into a consistent athlete. I think Ashley was right, in order to try to be able to perform, the technical aspects will need to be second nature. It's still early in the season and they're two totally different athletes, but Ashley's mention of Kwan begged a comparison.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  2. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

    IMO, nothing is natural in Ashley's moves. I have the feeling that she is not as natural as Michelle. It seems Ashley is very professional when it's about choreography. Do you see what I mean ?
    But I love the confidence she shows on the ice, and the hard work she seems to do.
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  3. ratatouille

    ratatouille New Member

    I admire Ashley's consistency but I am sorry she's not way close to become the next Michelle Kwan. Like Briancoogaert mentioned, she's not as natural as Michelle and I don't like the fact that she stops often to pose. Being confident made her mention Michelle's name but it's too early to say that I think.
  4. quartz

    quartz Take off, eh!

    There was an interview when Michelle was very young, and I think had just recently started working with Lori Nicol. Michelle said Lori wanted her to think of toothpaste oozing out of the tube while she was skating, to try to be fluid and smooth. I think also that Michelle is just blessed with a natural grace and presence. She was always aware of her body line and position and even though she was choreographed, seemed to have an innate sense of the music, and how her skating interpreted it.
    Ashley has come a long ways in just a couple of years, and has clearly been working very hard, but she doesn't quite have the natural 'it' factor that I saw in Michelle.
  5. rustyskater

    rustyskater Active Member

    I saw Ashley's 2012 TEB FD (which I thought was good) and it caused me to think of Michelle more than once during the program. No doubt about it; Michelle inspires Ashley's movements on the ice. I think that's a good thing for ladies skating.
  6. OnyxRose81

    OnyxRose81 Active Member

    I am happy that Ashley has finally found consistency and I do like her skating but she is not nearly as fluid in her movement as Michelle and as quartz said, she doesn't have the presence that Michelle did either.
  7. love_skate2011

    love_skate2011 Well-Known Member

    Kween had more fluidity and skated with her heart, Ashley attacks her programs not sure if that classifies as the same artistry
  8. TheGirlCanSkate

    TheGirlCanSkate Well-Known Member

    for me it's Ashley's pageant faces. It's like she had a Abby Lee teach her stage facial expressions while Michelle's seems more in tune with the character she is portraying. Both have beautiful skating skills. It's funny because Ashley's natural facial expressions are very gorgeous. Her smile when she is done lights up her entire face. I guess it is the difference between feeling the music (Michelle)and hearing the music (Ashley).
  9. Artifice

    Artifice Guest

    I saw Wagner's skates a few times and to me she is not at Kwan's level of artistry. The last time I saw her, I said to myself that she seems very professionnal in her approach but her "feeling" is not natural (in comparison with M Kwan, which is a very very ambitious model. Should we compare Wagner with another more "standard" skater, she could be seen as much artistic).
    Maybe she raises the bar too high to the point it could heart our perception of her, because her level is still very high.
  10. aftershocks

    aftershocks Well-Known Member

    Ashley has spoken of how much she admires Michelle Kwan, and views her as a role model to emulate. In the above excerpt cited by OP, Ashley also describes how she has "studied Michelle Kwan's programs" and taken note of the way Michelle "interacted with the audience and skated to perform."

    I don't see anywhere Ashley suggesting that she is "exactly" like Michelle. What Ashley aspires to do is to "reach the level" that Michelle attained on the ice in "skating not only to win, but to perform" for the audience. I think that is an exemplary goal for Ashley to set her sights on. I would find it kind of strange and disingenuous if many skaters, especially current U.S. ladies skaters, did not at least admire Michelle and in some way wish to emulate the qualities that she displays both on and off the ice.

    Already Ashley has been showing amazing consistency and wonderful presence on the ice. Ashley is carving out her own unique identity and I'm enjoying watching her growth as a skater. Despite how many fans are now mentioning that they see all kinds of skaters in Ashley, I think Ashley is not exactly like anyone else. She combines athletic grace and technique with power, striking femininity and fierceness. She is learning how to channel her talent, desires and energies into wonderful performances on the ice that connect with the audience.

    When Michelle came on the scene, there had been no one exactly like her before either, even though as her career continued, Michelle's courage, lyrical grace and musical interpretation reminded many of Janet Lynn. During her career, I recall that Michelle spoke about the quality of courage in Janet Lynn that she admired and wished to emulate. In looking back at Michelle's career, I think what has distinguished her, is in fact her extraordinary courage and consistency, and the way her skating sent shivers up my spine and touched my heart and soul. There won't be anyone who will ever do what Michelle did in exactly the same way (nor is there anyone who has wrought exactly what Janet Lynn did on the ice in her era). But there is absolutely nothing wrong with being inspired by the great qualities that both Kwan and Lynn exuded in their own unique and special ways.

    Ashley is quoted in Skating magazine's issue on Champs Camp: "I want to treat my fans like Michelle Kwan. She's amazing. She'll stop on the concourse and sign autographs for every little girl. And she's such a class act. There is no one like her."

    Here's a link to that article, with a great pic of Ashley and Michelle together! :)


    Today's skaters under the IJS scoring system with its constant rules changes are required to skate very differently than in previous eras. I think that has some bearing on the way Ashley's programs are structured and how she "delivers her choreography." The challenge for today’s skaters and choreographers is that in order to "grab points," skaters must skate around endlessly on one foot and pack in ridiculous amounts of spins and spin revolutions and make sure they are covering the ice well while emoting with their entire bodies and mastering all manner of difficult jumps. If you manage to do that, you might even be given fairly high component scores whether or not you are very polished in artistic presentation and musicality.

    With that said, I think that Ashley and her choreographer have managed to put together two wonderfully cohesive, polished and entertaining programs, while at the same time ticking off the necessary CoP point-getting boxes. I think Ashley skates a mature and engaging performance with competent execution of difficult jumps, but sure when she's ready, she'll add to her repertoire the panted for, fan-demanded, ISU-required 3/3 and 2x/3t! As well, I think Ashley is growing in her artistic expression and performing capabilities, just as she said she is trying to further develop in those areas. Ashley has also pointed out in the recent USA Today article linked in the GSD thread, that Mr. Nicks has “changed my technique a bit but not a ton.” And she also said that the most important aspect Mr. Nicks has helped her improve is her “mental” preparation.

    Comparisons of all kinds are to be expected in discussions about figure skating. So thanks for starting this thread and expressing your viewpoints, Kwantumleap. I respect your thoughts and those of others. Pardon my lengthy thesis. ;)
  11. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    One thing I am surprised at are all the comments about Michelle being so natural. I dont think Michelle was a natural artist like Janet Lynn or Oksana Baiul. She made a concscious effort to work extremely hard at improving her artistry and had the master of such at the time (Lori Nichol) to guide her. It was never her artistry people first noticed about her, it was consistent jumps, strong basics, and strong work ethic. Nobody looked at 14 year old Michelle who was already landing 6 or 7 triples per program, and one of the top skaters in the World and said "wow what an exquisite young artist we have before us here." Most 15 year olds would never work in detail so much on their artistry, but Kwan was already so good technically at a young age that she was able to have an experience like the 95 Worlds, and that made her determined to perfect every detail of her artistry so young, and doing that so young is why she became such an artistic skater IMO.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
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  12. Jarrett

    Jarrett Firebird for worlds!

    Ashley has a long way to go to reach Michelle like status on the artistry scale but just the fact she is aiming that high... I like it. I have always like Ashley since 2008 but she is finally a complete skater. Although I hope for the Olympic season she stretches a little more music wise. If she skates to Romeo & Juliet and Romanza, I will be disappointed.
  13. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

    I disagree. You cannot just decide to work on your artistry one off season and come back skating like this (below) especially at 15 years old due to only "hard work". Alongside her hard work, there is a natural ability. Otherwise, what is everyone else's excuse? not working hard enough?


    Ashley has wonderful command of the ice, don't get me wrong but IMO Michelle had a gift when it came to performing.
  14. SpiralGirl

    SpiralGirl Well-Known Member


    Ashley relies on choreographed facial expressions - instead of movement - to convey emotion. These expressions often come across as artificial and overdone, and I wish there were more quiet moments in her programs. I think Michelle's program linked by UGG is an excellent example of a case where a skater could have relied on O-faces and dramatic scowling, a la Ashley, but didn't.
  15. cbd1235

    cbd1235 Well-Known Member

    Ashley reminisces of Kwan in attack, consistency, and poise... The huge difference as stated by other members is that Michelle felt every ounce of the music, I only get bried hints of that from Ashley although I think that's to come with time. As also stated, Michelle was always fluid in movement and always aware of her body lines, Ashley is fluid most of the time but there are many moments when you see the rigidity creep in. If you notice, every time Ashley has to improvise a brief part of choreography because she's tired/behind in the music etc. she looks rigid with 0 awareness of body line. (See her programs early last season where she was too tired to do the toe steps in her black swan footwork - she would do an ugly bendy thing). She doesn't have the innate ability to improvise or create something beautiful on the spot; something a skater must be able to do in order to be fluid at all times.
  16. spikydurian

    spikydurian Well-Known Member

    :watch: Poor Ashley. Let Ashley be Ashley and Michelle be Michelle. Two skaters brought up and trained under different rules. I hope Ashley will achieve stardom like Michelle as I think only a lady star may be able to revive figure skating in the USA. Having said that, let's be realistic. It's easier to be multiple champions then rather than now. Good luck to Ashley. I am sure with her determination and hard work, she'll get there. Talent alone is not enough.
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  17. PeterG

    PeterG Well-Known Member

    Kwan retired because she knew that skaters like Wagner were coming up. At least Lysacek and Plushenko are trying comebacks to compete against the new kids. But Kwan is petrified and knows that all the current female amateurs have a natural artistry that far surpasses hers.

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  18. giselle23

    giselle23 Well-Known Member

    Let's face it: there is a wide gap between Michelle's artistry and Ashley's. But that's just because Michelle's artistry (including her performance skills) are so far above anyone else's. I commend Ashley for aspiring to such a high standard. Who was it--Robert Browning, maybe--who said one's reach should exceed one's grasp? It has certainly done wonders for her skating. She is really the only ladies skater right now who is even attempting to sell her program to the audience like Michelle did. I wish more skaters would take their inspiration from the Kween.
  19. rfisher

    rfisher Will you rise like a phoenix or be a burnt chicken

    :rofl: You made me spit tea on my computer.
  20. CantALoop

    CantALoop Well-Known Member

    I have a hard time seeing Ashley evolve into a style similar to Michelle's without losing what makes Ashley "Ashley".

    At her best, Michelle made me feel like she was embracing her programs, allowing her to feel the nuances of the music and engage the audience by infusing and melding her emotions into her movements with a sense of calmness and security.

    I always get the sense that rather than embracing her programs, Ashley is powering her way through them with attack and determination. Those aren't necessarily bad or inferior qualities; I just think Ashley and Michelle have two very distinct styles - Ashley's being more bold, and Michelle's more gentle.

    That being said, I don't think it's futile for Ashley to learn from Michelle. As evidenced by her last few performances of Black Swan, Ashley can really sell a program and bring excitement to it. I think Ashley's aggressiveness to her skating and movement is what makes her seem affected during pieces like the slow aria section in the middle of her Samson et Delilah. However, I could easily see Ashley selling the heck out of something passionate and fiery like Michelle's footwork sequence during the ending of Tosca.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  21. Chris_E

    Chris_E Active Member

    ITA I feel Ashley's programs are much harder on a whole. The majority of her jumps have difficult entrances and her spins are more complex. It is likely way more difficult for someone to work on their artistry now because so much time is spent perfecting all of that. It is just the nature of what it takes to get to the top with this judging system.
  22. martyross

    martyross Well-Known Member

    i must say first that i'm a huge Ashley fan but I only like some of Kwan's programs, so, ( it will probably sound as heresy to many), i personally don't find Michelle infinitely superior to Ashley (or to Yuna, for that matters) :) so in thinking of a reply to the question, i will put them on the same "level" and compare them. also, there's no need to always declare one skater superior to an other. skaters are just different and enjoyable for what they are. the difference between Ashley and Michelle lays probably in their different personalities and musical preferences. Ashley really loves big, powerful music, and performed a "gentle" music only twice in that beautiful SP "Somewhere in time" and the playful "Pollock", while Kwan had more variety of programs, so we can watch how her artistry transform in diverse routines. Ashley has so much energy coming from her throughout the program, and in the past, all this energy seemed to be too much so that her skating looked a little frantic. Now her energy is well chanelled, that's why she has the calm, almost regal quality that Kwan had. Kwan was always very polished, refined, and so is Ashley this season.
    And yes, like someone said above, it's hard to find a performer who is totally, truely natural. any artist learns first. talent is a raw gem that requires work to shine. so yes, Michelle worked a lot on her expression and emoting, it didn't just come out at first try :)
    whether Ashley is not natural in her expression, it's probably a matter of opinion. for me, every time she skates, i can feel she puts her heart in it, but maybe because i have a special fondness and emotional connection to her skating, that every move she does, speaks to me :) that's probably what happens to Kwan's fans too. so in a way, they are similar in this too. they can both reach peoples' hearts through their skating.
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  23. RD

    RD Well-Known Member

    This entire thread reminds me of the comparisons between Lebron James and Michael Jordan being done in NBA circles. They are both great players, but Jordan was on a whole 'nother planet. There will be only one Michael Jordan.

    Wagner and Kwan aren't comparable at this point, honestly. Perhaps if Wagner picks up a couple of World titles we can consider talking- but right now I wouldn't even have Wagner at the Cohen/Hughes/Lipinski level yet. No world medal (let alone title)...no Olympic appearances...besides, style-wise they are still very different skaters.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
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  24. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    Agree with all that except Hughes. I consider many skaters who never won a World medal better than Sarah Hughes.
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  25. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    Like I said it isnt natural for a 15 year old to work on every detail of her artistry like Kwan did. She did since she was such a determined and disciplined competitor and got a crash course in the vast importance of artistry at the 1995 Worlds, few people that young are already good enough to experience something like that so young. I am sure alot of people work hard on artistry but dont usually start in such detail so young, and perfecting things so young made it easier to grow into an impeccable artist. She also worked with the finest people much of her career- Frank Carrol and Lori Nichol, who are keen on perfect packaging of a skater. I suppose she has some natural artistic ability but she isnt the natural artist that Janet Lynn, Oksana Baiul, or even Sasha Cohen are. If she were you would have noticed her artistry when you first saw her very young and underdeveloped and in her case you do not notice anything of the sort when you first see her in 94 and 95, just a very well trained athlete with great basics and competitiveness. JMO

    I also saw an interview in a skating magazine one time where Kwan herself felt she wasnt one of the most talented skaters, she just made the most of her talents more than other skaters.
  26. RD

    RD Well-Known Member

    well, like her or not, she DID win an OGM plus a world medal- thus that puts her ahead of all current US women.

    Once Wagner picks up top hardware, she can be placed in that company. But until then, she is only dreams and potential.
  27. skateboy

    skateboy Well-Known Member

    Michelle is a skater who I think was actually helped by the "puberty monster," along with extreme dedication and hard work.

    She was not a "natural artist," she started out as a typical jumping bean, as this video from 1992 shows (she was 12): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42l8lZ7m9qY

    She was certainly a hard working jumping bean, though, until 1996. That was when her artistry (along with hard work with Lori Nichol) began to kick in. As judgejudy mentioned, Michelle was so hardworking and determined, so she really paid attention to the details that would make her skating more artistic. And then she grew from there.

    Ashley has really impressed me, I was not a fan of hers until this season. I believe she is also a very determined and hardworking young lady.
  28. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

    I guess what i am saying is that there was some type of raw ability to connect with music there...to work with. Perhaps it was just undiscovered by Michelle prior to 1996. I agree that she was perhaps not as "naturally" (for lack of a better word) artistic in the sense that Oksana and Janet were, but you will never be able to convince me that if Irina, Sarah, etc...worked as hard as Michelle did on their artistry, they would have the same type of ability to feel the music and connect to the audience the way Michelle could time and time again. Something was there to begin with. I do agree that she did make the most of her talents due to hard work.
    kwanette and (deleted member) like this.
  29. RickInSanJose

    RickInSanJose Active Member

    Goodness gracious yes! Just look how petrified Michelle is in the PEOPLE magazine photo of her and Clay Pell!


    Michelle Kwan is 32 years old, and has moved on with her life -- moved beyond, and above, figure skating. As stellar as her skating career was, it was but a preamble of much greater and more significant achievements and accomplishments that will unfold in her life in the years and decades ahead.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  30. UGG

    UGG Well-Known Member

    I cannot even BELIEVE the ridiculousness of this statement. Kwan retired because GRACIE GOLD was a fetus when she (Kwan) won her first worlds. She was skurred..
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