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Yuka Sato: a puzzling career

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by krenseby, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. krenseby

    krenseby New Member

    In threads, I often hear Yuka Sato praised as an excellent coach who has done a tremendous job of polishing her students' skating skills. However, did Yuka really ever have the chance to demonstrate her own skating skills during her competitive career? After winning her world title in 1994, she has stayed out of the spotlight by retreating to a pro circuit that didn't quite grant her the audience and name recognition she might have achieved had she continued as an amateur competitor. Lu Chen and Surya Bonaly both continued to compete and amass medals, which begs the question: why didn't Yuka do the same? How would have you liked to see Yuka's career turn out? Should she have competed more and why didn't she? Also, what were some of her best moments on the ice?
  2. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    I did a podcast interview with her in January. You can listen here to hear her own words bout her amateur and pro career.
    LynnW and (deleted member) like this.
  3. Lainerb

    Lainerb New Member

    Because unlike Chen or Bonaly I don't believe Yuka ever really had a conistent 3lutz or 3flip? The only time she was consistent enough with it was when she won her world title. Those two jumps probably even had more significance in making a skater competitive back then.
  4. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    I think Yuka made the right call. She went out on a high note, capitalized on her World title by skating professionally at the zenith of skating's popularity and probably made good money in the process. To continue on to the next Olympics would have required four more years of grueling training, and in retrospect, she probably would have gotten bronze at best.

    By contrast, Surya had to keep going -- she embarrassed herself on the 1994 World podium and probably felt the need to redeem herself, plus I'm sure she was hoping to win the World title and go out on a similar high note.

    As for Lu Chen, would the Chinese federation have allowed her to retire?
  5. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    I agree that Yuka made the right decision turning pro. The 3lutz and 3flip were not her friends, and also remember that Yuka won Worlds in a watered down year.

    My favorite Yuka's program is Spartacus at World Pro.
  6. OliviaPug

    OliviaPug Well-Known Member

    Yeah, Yuka had her problems with the 3lutz and 3flip, but her loop was :swoon:

    Also, I still think Yuka had/has some of the best feet/blades in the business. I love watching her skate.

  7. DBZ

    DBZ Well-Known Member

    I agree. Bottom line I think money was the deciding factor.

    For any elite skater competing in 1994, deciding *not* to turn pro must've been a very difficult decision to make.

    Skating was a bleeding goldmine in those days for pro skaters. It was a phenomena unlike anything the sport had ever seen before...and no one knew how long it would last.

    A chance to make millions of dollars doing what you love (with less work and training)...or continue intense training and breaking your body for a couple thousand bucks (assuming you placed well in competitions). Tough call. :)

    I'm actually in the minority in thinking Yuka could've continued competing another couple of years, but I never got the sense that she ever enjoyed competing like Michelle, Chen, or Surya did.

    So, it made perfect sense to turn pro. I'm sure it was a no brainer for her.
  8. Macassar88

    Macassar88 Well-Known Member

    Yuko said in her interview with Manleywoman that she had wanted to be a professional skater for her whole life, and her father told her that she had to become world champion first. So maybe that's the reason?
  9. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    But it was always the same group of 6 skaters or so that got invited to all of the made-for-tv competitions that popped up left and right back then. I'm not sure how lucrative it was for the no name elite skaters that turned pro.
  10. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member


    But in the fall / winter of 1994, as one of the skaters who competed in this series, Josee Chouinard did very well without a world medal under her belt.

    She often placed first or second ahead of Sato or Denise Biellmann in these events.
  11. Seerek

    Seerek Well-Known Member

    Which brings up the question - if opportunities weren't so lucrative for ineligible skaters in 1994, does that mean that Yuka Sato would have remained eligible through to Nagano in 1998? She would have been 25 in 1998, not a so far-fetched age in this era (Ando is 23, Kostner and Czisny 24).

    Who else from that era (other than Baiul or Kerrigan or any of the re-instated pros) would have also remained eligible under different circumstances?
  12. paskatefan

    paskatefan Well-Known Member

  13. AYS

    AYS I'd rather have a pug for my president

    Yuka wasn't "out of the spotlight" as a pro skater. Back post-'94, professional skating was much bigger and more visible than today. The SOI and COI tours thrived, and there was a ton of pro skating on TV, including many pro competitive events. She's a skater who really came into her own in her pro skating and she was always one of the highlights for me, particularly any time I got to see her in a live event. Given all that, and the fact that it was a great (and bit surprising) accomplishment to get that world title, it was definitely the right decision at the time for her.
    taf2002 and (deleted member) like this.
  14. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    Yuka was a huge star as a pro. Way bigger than as an amateur. She overtook Yamaguchi as the best pro skater for periods, and was probably the most visible given that Kristi only did the World Pros, Challenge of Champions, and Ice Wars, while Yuka went around and did nearly everything.

    As an amateur she was great but lacked both the name value, intangible it factor, and the jumping ability to do more. If she had continued I am not sure if she could have won another World title or been a contender at the 98 Olympics. She wasnt ever going to be as strong a jumper as people like Kwan, Chen, Lipinski, or Slutskaya. As others said she had problems with the lutz and flip, usually missing one, and barely hanging onto to them when she landed them.
  15. Mafke

    Mafke Well-Known Member

    Sato, I think, is a good example of a skater's skater. She didn't pile up a whole bunch of medals but she won worlds as both a jr and a sr skater. And she had very good all round skills. She was good at figures (still part of the mix when she started) became a great free skater (despite some issues with a couple of jumps) and was not very shabby at pairs as a pro.

    Compare her with Witt, a great competitor and champion, but never really a skater's skater.
  16. Artifice

    Artifice Guest

    What is a "skater's skater" ?
  17. 5Ali3

    5Ali3 Active Member

    Yuka Sato once told me: After winning Worlds in her hometown, how could she possibly top that experience?
  18. Mafke

    Mafke Well-Known Member

    A skater's skater is a skater that other (elite) skaters (and coaches) look up to in terms of technique (apart from competitive accomplishments).

    Young elite skaters might look up to Witt's accomplishments but how many want to emulate her kind of awkard crossovers or not-so-great spin positions? On the other hand, I can totally see a young skater wanting Sato's wonderful edges or versatility.
  19. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    Witt is an original. I dont think any modern skater would want to copy her. Grossmann tried to be a Witt clone and we see how that worked out for her. She had an intangible factor and insanely strong competitiveness and charisma which allowed her to rise to the top with so many technique and stylistic flaws.
  20. edonice

    edonice New Member

    I hardly ever thought of Yuka Sato while she was competing as an amateur, but many of her professional programs are among my very favorites.

    She has such a great smile, easy connection with the audience, the very softest knees, and great edge quality. She pushes herself choreographically, and skates with such lightness and ease. She may not have been the greatest competitor, like Witt, but she was and is a total joy to watch.
  21. Frau Muller

    Frau Muller #1 Dick Button Fan

    Indeed she was. She'll forever be in the record books as being the winner of the last important World Pro championships held -- the last two 'Landovers' in Washington, DC, as well as the quasi-Landover Hallmark Championships in Columbus (2002, I think). Yuka was the last Queen of the Landovers. :lol:
  22. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

    Tonya Harding. :shuffle:
  23. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    I've always thought she only won one World Pro. I guess after the competition moved out of Landover, it stopped being the Dick Button's World Pro that I knew.

    How many comp did Yuka won skating to "Hat Full of Stars" ?
    Love Yuka but that song was so ZZZZZZZZZZ, especially if other ladies in the same comp also skated to GFB.
  24. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    On another note how could Yuka have done if she continued? Could she have won another World title or stayed competitive for the podium all the way until 1998? She didnt even have a World medal before the 94 Worlds and that was an incomplete field. She didnt get a triple lutz until 93 though, and get a triple flip and start attempting a triple lutz in the short program until 94. As much as I like her skating I tend to think someone who had trouble beating the likes of Kerrigan, Baiul, Bonaly, and Chen would have alot of trouble beating the likes of Kwan, Lipinski, Slutskaya, and an improved Chen. Then again maybe her skating and reputation would have started to take off with that World title.
  25. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

    Interestingly it was another Japanese woman, Midori Ito, who was attempting a comeback for '98 Nagano but aborted it.

    If the Olympic years had not changed, ['96, '00, '04], I think Yuka would've stuck around for '96
  26. DBZ

    DBZ Well-Known Member

    Not necessarily.

    I recall being introduced to a number of obscure skaters on the pro circuit that I never would've known otherwise.

    I remember skaters like Rory Flack-Burghart, Charlene Wong, Dan Hollander etc. as frequent regulars during the height of the skating boom--none of which had a world medal to their name.

    Sure, they weren't top billing skaters, but they probably made way more money during that period than they would've in any other skating venue.

    Someone who truly capitalized IMO was Caryn Kadavy. A no-name skater to most of the mainstream audience, only one world medal on her resume, and yet she made a name for herself (much like Yuka did) on the pro circuit by consistently placing well in several pro competitions.

    Unlike Wong or Flack, she still had 3 (relatively) consistent triples, which was enough to challenge for titles in any pro competition in those days.

    I guess my point was that there was an unprecedented opportunity post-1994 to carve a well-earning niche out for yourself as a professional skater, regardless of your amateur career, which had to be tremendously enticing for any skater competing during that time.

    Of course, having world and Olympics medals probably made that task infinitely more easy--but isn't that true in any situation?

    But I do recognize that these opportunities were probably open exclusively for North American skaters since that was where all the money was at the time.

    I'm sure for no-name, non-American/Canadian skaters, it must've been a lot more difficult.
  27. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    I liked what I saw of Charlene Von-Haher (sp?) at one of the Ryder competitions, but she never appeared back on TV again.
  28. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    If Ito could have kept her competitive level from the pro events in fall 93 and fall 94 she could have been competitive in her comeback. It was clear by 92 though she was past her amateur prime, she was getting injured and ill more often, and couldnt handle the stress and enormous expectations on her anymore. The pro environment and the only 2 competitions a year without the rigorous practice schedules were better for her by then. I think her comeback was always a huge mistake, and liable to disaester, and I am sad she made it as I would have loved to see her continue as a pro where she was amazing.

    I think between Sato and Ito, Sato was the more likely to succeed in a comeback by that point, although I dont know if she could have beaten the likes of Kwan either.
  29. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    Are you serious?
    She had (and has) edges, style and artistry that were the envy of her peers and of other skaters' coaches. I don't see what is "puzzling" about a career where someone manages to generate that level of respect and appreciation, unless you measure success only by medals or titles.
  30. centerpt1

    centerpt1 Well-Known Member

    She's done everything she's attempted completely and sucessfully.
    She was a National Jr Champ and a National Sr Champ in Japan.
    She was a World Jr Champ, then a World Sr Champ
    She was a Pro Champ
    She had a long Pro career.
    She's done Choreography for Elite Skaters from several countries.
    She and her husband coach some of the best of the best in the US.
    She is well thought of, has been nominated for a coaching award, and has been recognized for her contributions to skating.
    So I really don't understand this thread . What more could she possibly do?
    dinakt and (deleted member) like this.