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Kristi Yamaguchi: Could she have been 3-time Olympic Champion?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by Jarrett, Jan 6, 2017.

Kristi Yamaguchi: Could she have been 3-time Olympic Champion?

  1. Yes

    12 vote(s)
    18.5%
  2. No

    9 vote(s)
    13.8%
  3. Not three but two time Olympic Champion.

    44 vote(s)
    67.7%
  1. Jarrett

    Jarrett Firebird for worlds!

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    Probably discussed before but the videos are still fun to watch.

    I was scanning through figure skating videos as I tend to do and I came across Kristi's 1996 Ultimate Four Short Program where she beat a clean reigning World Champion, Michelle Kwan, even though she skated before her. Just looking at most of Kristi's professional programs since she became professional she kept her Lutz/Flip/Loop/Toe/Axel until the 2000s. Her spins were always strong with variations and had great presentation with transitions out the yingyang. Does anyone know if she considered re-instating in 1994 or 1998? I know Kristi had an issue with the salchow which could have cost her in maybe 1998 but she had a clean triple lutz/triple toe combination that no one completed cleanly in major competition after she retired (outside of Bobek?) until much later. I believe she turned professional because of not wanting to deal with the competitive pressure anymore but she was obviously a great talent that continued to train hard and apply herself that had the potential to be a three time Olympic Medalist at least and 5+ World Champion IMO. The more I look at the video I think IJS was molded after her type of skating.

    1993: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioFBytEBIWA
    1994: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAhsuY9KTmY
    1995: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HKazWX5N3k
    1996: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhyt78Z4ZLo
    1997: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8yJAHHoeI4 :2faced: at the red lobster comment on youtube
    1998: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14nO0kqs4NE
    1999: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhONsNU1JO0
    2000: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbzp6l2gAbk I can't find the winter pro am copy of this program
    2001/02: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3Yp3tfjFsg

    I <3 Kristi. :encore:
     
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  2. Weve3

    Weve3 Well-Known Member

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    Me too!

    It is possible Kris could have won two Olympic golds. Three Olympic golds, not sure. 98 would have been a challenge. IMO.
     
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  3. clairecloutier

    clairecloutier Well-Known Member

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    Kristi did consider reinstating for 1994. She even, I believe, filed paperwork with the federation to reinstate. But ultimately she decided not to ... She never said exactly why, but I think it was a combination of 2 things: 1) She and Nancy Kerrigan were friends, and I think she in a way wanted Nancy to have her shot at OGM; and 2) She watched 1993 Worlds which was won by Baiul, and there was a huuuuge amount of hype that year about all the new 15-year-olds on the scene: Oksana, Tanja Szewczenko, and Lu Chen, and I think that put Kristi off. I think she feared she would be seen as yesterday's news, compared to Baiul & company.

    It really is a shame that she decided not to compete in 1994. If she had been at her best, she definitely could've won. I'm not saying it would have been easy, but I think she could have done it. I will always have a big "what if" in my mind about this. (Major Kristi fan here.)

    Kristi then considered the possibility of competing in pairs in the 1998 Olympics (if it had been allowed with reinstatement rules). She said she didn't want to come back in singles, but would've been interested in pairs. Unfortunately, nothing came of this, probably because no good partner turned up, and also I don't think they allowed professionals to reinstate for 1998. I don't know if she ever had any actual partner tryouts. Of course this is another huge "what if" for me ... As much as I loved her as a singles skater, I really, really wanted to see her skate pairs again.

    Theoretically, I think Kristi's best performances from 1991-92 would have been competitive with Kwan and Lipinski. However, Kristi was not as consistent delivering 6- or 7-triple programs as Kwan/Lipinski due to her weakness with the triple Salchow.

    At least we got to enjoy seeing Kristi in Stars on Ice and World Pro Championships for many years! But yes ... her amateur career always felt too short.
     
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  4. Jarrett

    Jarrett Firebird for worlds!

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    That would have been so interesting if Kristi had come back with pairs. Haha what if Rudy came back too!
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2017
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  5. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    I think she definitely could have won three OGM considering how much she kept up her skills and how strong her skating was. Now, would she have? That's a different question.
     
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  6. AngieNikodinovLove

    AngieNikodinovLove Well-Known Member

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    Kristi (one of my all time fav skaters) I think woulda beat Michelle but not Tara.

    While Kristi's jumps I think ONLY GOT BETTER after 94 I think Tara's arsenal of jumps still woulda beat Kristi enough even considering Kristis probably higher second mark.
     
  7. Weve3

    Weve3 Well-Known Member

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    I agree.
     
  8. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    I think Kwan would have beaten Kristi, but it wouldn't have been easy. But the whole lead up to 1998 would have been incredibly different.
     
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  9. Weve3

    Weve3 Well-Known Member

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    Kristi had nerves of steel! Tough competitor.
     
  10. skateboy

    skateboy Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you but, had Kristi stayed in for 1994, she may have been the victim of the whack...
     
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  11. Weve3

    Weve3 Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately, I do believe you might be correct. I remember thinking, back when it happened, that Kristi (possibly) dodged the 'whack!' :slinkaway
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  12. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    Possibly. Assuming Tonya was involved with the planning of the attack, I also wonder if how much Tonya's lack of respect for Nancy's skating played into their decision to go forward with it coupled with only having two spots and only one skater ahead of her for that number one spot. The idea that a less-than skater was getting all of the endorsements "unfairly" due to her looks and ability to play the game must have been burning in her head making her go crazy. Unlike Nancy, Tonya seemed to actually respect Kristi's skating. Maybe if Kristi competed at 1993 Worlds, there would have been three spots. If it was about being USA number 1 rather than being guaranteed a spot, then she'd have to plan two attacks. With two, maybe the whack wouldn't have happened because it'd be harder to attack both Kristi and Nancy...unless Nancy's reputation fell by the wayside by then and Tonya no longer saw her as a threat.
     
  13. arakwafan2006

    arakwafan2006 Well-Known Member

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    This to me is what made her legendary. Even as a pro, alllllll those years never a mistake
     
  14. Jarrett

    Jarrett Firebird for worlds!

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    I agree the U.S. skating program would have been very different since there might have been another skater in front of Tara for a spot on the 1996 Worlds team and I don't know if Tara would have won it all on her first go around in 1997 without that experience at 1996 Worlds. How knows, maybe Michelle would have be forced to actually do the rumored triple lutz/triple toe she could do if Kristi was around doing it still when she came onto the scene.

    I don't feel like Tonya would have attacked Kristi as it appeared they respected each other from when they would show at least Kristi's reactions to Tonya's good skates. I think Nancy wasn't very likeable or at least I personally didn't like her off ice personality. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oozUaizleQ)
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2017
  15. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    I remember a more recent retrospective (by recent I mean like mid-2000s), Kristi said Tonya had the most beautiful jumps she ever saw. She even acknowledged Midori and said she also did the triple axel, but also said nobody jumped better than Tonya.

    I actually feel bad for Nancy in the post-Lillehammer stuff. She probably needed therapy and a break from all of the crazy, OTT, and constant publicity surrounding her and Tonya but of course she needed to cash in while the offers were still there.
     
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  16. blue_idealist

    blue_idealist Well-Known Member

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    I think she might have won again in '94 but would have ended up with bronze or lower in '98.
     
  17. zigzig

    zigzig Well-Known Member

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    I think Kwan's emergence as an Artiste would have complicated things for Kristi in 98. Tara owned the jumping bean image but Michelle and Kristi would have had to share the elegant/mature positioning (although in my opinion Kwan's choreography in that era was light years ahead of Kristi's dated competition choreo) and there would have been a lot of pressure for Kristi to defend her turf against the newer generation. Not to mention that she would have likely screwed up her salchow and lost the tech edge to both Kwan and Lipinski.

    In 1994 a solid Kristi should easily have won but that competition was such a political hot mess who knows what would have gone down.

    It was always interesting to me and really reflected the values of that era that Kristi insisted on keeping a 3S in her program when she had such a minimal success rate. It really was in her head because with the way she did her double axel and her loop she really shouldn't have had the level of difficulty she did with the salchow.

    Such a contrast from today where skaters kind of pick and choose the elements that will max their scoring potential.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  18. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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    She could have won in 94 for sure and very likely would have. I agree the main reason she didnt reinstate is she was good friends with Nancy and she wanted Nancy to have her shot at Olympic Gold.

    98? She was losing some of her jump consistency even on the pro circuit where she started losing often to Sato, so probably unlikely she would do better than bronze that year. She was losing most of her head to head pro meetings with Sato by then, so if you are going to say Kristi could win gold in Nagano you might as well say Sato could too, and I doubt most would say that. The OP mentions beating Kwan in the short program at the Ultimate Four but she missed a bunch of jumps in the interpretive free program and lost the event which had become an increasing problem for her by then. As impressive as her maintaining her skills so long was, her jump consistency did start to dwindle around 96 onwards.
     
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  19. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    ^I agree that she would've probably won '94, which was a step-down in tech content from '92. I think KY could have handled 5 triples and a combo here and there to win over Ms. 2-foot. They were still doing a solo 2 jump in the SP at Lillehammer which means her '92 SP would've been competitive. She was a fave amongst the USFSA and had plenty of international credibility.

    Nagano '98 was a different story. She would've been older and been forced to revert back to a 7 triple program to have a prayer against skaters like Lipinski w/ a 3L-3L and 3T-0.5L-3S and Kwan w/ 2 3Z and 2 3L. KY could not handle a 3S to begin with. I think she would've been in a fight for her life to snag a bronze but to be fair, that podium position was wide open and none of the ladies gunning for it were all that stable.
     
  20. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

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    If Yamaguchi had competed at Nationals in 1995-96 , Lipinski most likely would not have gone to Worlds that season or competed at four Grand Prix events (including the Final) the following season. How missing out on some or all of those events would have set her up for Nationals and Worlds that season or the 1997-98 season is something we can only guess.
     
  21. zigzig

    zigzig Well-Known Member

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    Third would have been a real possibility assuming Kristy maintained her basic abilities. The judges were all kind of :blah: about Chen, Bute and Slute given the underwhelming marks and haphazard 3rd-5th ordinals.

    Now let's make it interesting and speculate whether she could have come back in 2006 and challenged Arakawa's 5 triple win :EVILLE:
     
  22. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

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    How was Yamaguchi's biellman/donut position? That determined whether a skater was in contention for the gold or not in 2006.
     
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  23. Jarrett

    Jarrett Firebird for worlds!

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    She had a catch foot in the layback and camel I believe but I don't think a biellman. Kristi for Gold! 1992 1994 1998 2002 2006!
     
  24. Ares

    Ares Well-Known Member

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    Kristi didn't have a salchow, and by 1998 all the triples were required. She would have doubled it or fell and that would be that.

    Lipinski and Kwan were so close, it's hard to believe Yamaguchi could have even slipped between them for a silver. I could see a sentimental bronze.

    It would have been interesting though to see how it would have affected Kwan's focus in the mid 90s. Kwan spent a lot of time developing her presentation to get ahead of Bobek. I wonder if there would have been more of a focus on the 3/3 if it had been Kristi's heels she was nipping at.
     
  25. bardtoob

    bardtoob Former Choreographer for Anna Maria Tragikova

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    Kristi had good competitive nerves, but she often had mistakes, particularly on the Salchow. Also, she only liked competing in as much as it gave her more opportunity to skate, and, of course, in her day, winning the OGM virtually guaranteed a professional career doing exhibitions, so there was no motivation to compete and risk her reputation.

    Those who think Tara would have beat Kristi because of Tara's jumps are ridiculous because the judging system of that time was ranked, capped, and bunched up at the top of the scale with two independent marks, not scored. Adding Kristi into the mix at the top of the rankings would have made things worse for Tara because, while Tara's presentation rankings would have gone down, there would have been no room for her technical merit to go up.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  26. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    I read somewhere that Kristi had trouble with the triple salchow because learning the throw triple salchow threw her timing off on this jump.

    I believe one of the reasons Kristi's coach made her stay with this jump is that Ness wanted to promote her as a complete skater, instead of just a perceived jumper like Ito, Bonaly, or Harding. Her programs were also well balanced, and apart from not having a triple axel, were technically on par with Tonya and Midori in that Yamaguchi usually added a second triple lutz late in the free skate.

    After Nancy's disaster skate in Prague, there were only two spots on the Olympic team.

    Yamaguchi would definitely have been a contender in 1994 for an Olympic berth, but she may have needed to skate at (and win) several big internationals in 1993 first like NHK and Pirruetten just to build her stock leading into the 1994 National Championships.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  27. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

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  28. Jot the Dot Dot

    Jot the Dot Dot Headstrong Buzzard

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    Does it really matter? Kristi had made her mark as a Junior Pairs skater with Rudy, then as a single skater, all with an impressive cache of 14 Gold medals, 8 Silver & 3 Bronze. She toured with Stars On Ice as a headliner, very popular with audiences. She started her own charity (Always Dream Foundation), fell in love, got married, and has 2 lovely daughters with whom she continued her mother's tradition of giving the girls an Anglo first name, and a Japanese middle name. She won the Dancing With The Stars with Mark Ballas. And her life has been one free of any scandal! As well, have you seen how fit and Va-Va-Voom she is now in her 40s, and after having given birth twice? We can always wonder how she would have hit the record books with a second or third OGM (like Yuna's gold & silver), but you also wonder if that might been too much a stress on her. Give credit where credit is due. Kristi will always be in my good books as a skater, and as a person.
     
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  29. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

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    1993 - The question is about the Olympics, but if KY had decided to compete in '93, she would've been coronated at Nationals and easily sent to Worlds. Kerrigan only executed 3 triples at Nationals (?) and Erven and Kwiatkowski weren't at either KY or Kerrigan's level. At Worlds, Baiul was a newcomer with 5 triples and no challenging combos, Bonaly was at her best but not the artiste she needed to be to win, even losing to Baiul and Chen Lu was still developing as a complete skater. KY would've won '93 Worlds with competent skates.

    Another factor is whether Kerrigan would've continued if KY committed to skating at least to '94. I believe Kerrigan wanted out by the end of the '92 season and the US would've had their top lady committed to '94. Didn't the USFSA have to practically pull her out of her barcalounger to get her to continue?
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  30. bardtoob

    bardtoob Former Choreographer for Anna Maria Tragikova

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