Nicole Bobek

olympic

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I was sifting through 1995 videos out of boredom and was watching Worlds / Nationals that year.

I was impressed by Nicole Bobek's command of the ice, speed, size of her jumps, presentation and musicality, relating so well to the audience. She landed a 3Z-3T and Sandra Bezic noted that she had been landing them all week in practice. Her spiral was honestly better than anyone else's in my mind (that include's Kwan)

IF she had skated with consistency year after year and with an arsenal that included jump combos like that, what would she have been able to accomplish and specifically, what would have become of Kwan / Lipinski?? Kwan offered beautiful skating and Lipinski was the little engine that could, but I don't think either skated as big or powerful as Nicole. Could she have been dominant in the 95-98 era? Curious as to people's opinions ....

ETA - If you look at her ambitious jump layout from 95 Worlds LP - 3Z-3T, 3F-2T, split-3T, 2A, 3L, 1A-3S, was there another Lutz attempt in there? IDK, that would've held her in good stead at Nagano
 
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VGThuy

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It’s kinda hard because what made her an “exciting” skater was also the reason why she was a wildly inconsistent one. You’re basically asking what she would be like with a different personality. And even skaters with discipline have a hard time keeping up their tech. Bobek was talented, no doubt, but Kwan and Lipinski were types to do what they could to win. Bobek skated big, but I found her skating as artistic as a Vegas show. Any program of hers that didn’t make use of her showmanship was dull. She also had a worse flutz than Lipinski. And could she take the constant pressure of four years of Kwan and Lipinski, two of the most consistent skaters ever, nipping at her heels with constant 6-7 triple routines?
 

mtnskater

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Nicole is one of my all time favorites. ❤️ I was a really big fan during the 90’s, even more so than my fandom for Michelle and Tara (which is big too). I have always wondered what might have been with her talent and charisma if she had had the drive and personality to train that talent to its maximum. Similar in some respects to Christopher Bowman. I will always wish her the best and remember her skating fondly.
 

overedge

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IF she was consistent, but she wasn't. And it wasn't because her coaches weren't trying to help her become consistent. @VGThuy is right, this is like saying, what if she were a completely different skater with a different personality?
 

olympic

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It’s kinda hard because what made her an “exciting” skater was also the reason why she was a wildly inconsistent one. You’re basically asking what she would be like with a different personality. And even skaters with discipline have a hard time keeping up their tech. Bobek was talented, no doubt, but Kwan and Lipinski were types to do what they could to win. Bobek skated big, but I found her skating as artistic as a Vegas show. Any program of hers that didn’t make use of her showmanship was dull. She also had a worse flutz than Lipinski. And could she take the constant pressure of four years of Kwan and Lipinski, two of the most consistent skaters ever, nipping at her heels with constant 6-7 triple routines?
Fascinating perspective. I was just going by capabilities, meaning ability to land jumps and stay exciting. Where would that have gotten her?
 

overedge

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It was hard to tell if she had those capabilities because she was so inconsistent. She landed beautiful jumps when she could land them, but it was never clear if that meant she could do them more often if something else was happening, or whether those were flukes.
 

tony

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I think Nicole would've gotten lost in the shuffle behind Kwan and Lipinski anyways. For someone so naturally talented and able to sell a program, she had some real duds throughout 1995-1999, especially her Olympic season long. Her jump technique was so wild that it added to the excitement for me, but not when the program didn't work and it was a big ask for her to become totally consistent when she was bouncing around several coaches a season. And Kwan was insanely consistent for the most part. I really, really loved her Zorro short and her Motown interpretive program that was at every single pro-am in fall of 1998 before withdrawing from 99 Nationals and being done with that side of the sport.

HOWEVER, and this is a huge one- remember that Lipinski was sent to Worlds in 1996 by the vote of ONE person, 13-12 IIRC, over Bobek. Had she not, I believe I read a long time ago that the rules in place in the following season would've made her not even eligible to attend the Worlds (that she won), possibly unless she won a medal at World Juniors. I know that was the case a few years later, but I'm not sure about 1997 being when that switched. So you never know..
 

VGThuy

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I wonder if people at the time gave USFS grief for not giving Bobek the bye to 1996 Worlds considering she was a reigning world medalist and Tara ended up placing 15th there. In the end, it actually worked out because 1996 Worlds was a great learning experience for Tara and helped her grandfather into senior competition in 1997 or whatever the rules were.
 

tony

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I wonder if people at the time gave USFS grief for not giving Bobek the bye to 1996 Worlds considering she was a reigning world medalist and Tara ended up placing 15th there. In the end, it actually worked out because 1996 Worlds was a great learning experience for Tara and helped her grandfather into senior competition in 1997 or whatever the rules were.
I'm sure they probably did, but it was just shortly before I found my way to the figure skating internet so I don't remember anything about it. I'd imagine people were particularly furious after the SP. ;)
 

VGThuy

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Bobek had the best spiral angle because it was not only impressive but it looked right for her body. Like the angle and line was perfectly square with her hip and upper body. I’ve never seen a more natural looking spiral.
 

olympic

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I think Nicole would've gotten lost in the shuffle behind Kwan and Lipinski anyways. For someone so naturally talented and able to sell a program, she had some real duds throughout 1995-1999, especially her Olympic season long. Her jump technique was so wild that it added to the excitement for me, but not when the program didn't work and it was a big ask for her to become totally consistent when she was bouncing around several coaches a season. And Kwan was insanely consistent for the most part. I really, really loved her Zorro short and her Motown interpretive program that was at every single pro-am in fall of 1998 before withdrawing from 99 Nationals and being done with that side of the sport.

HOWEVER, and this is a huge one- remember that Lipinski was sent to Worlds in 1996 by the vote of ONE person, 13-12 IIRC, over Bobek. Had she not, I believe I read a long time ago that the rules in place in the following season would've made her not even eligible to attend the Worlds (that she won), possibly unless she won a medal at World Juniors. I know that was the case a few years later, but I'm not sure about 1997 being when that switched. So you never know..
Yeah, BUT imagine if she was hitting 3Z-3T year after year with a 6-7 triple LP and if like her you had panache, you could theoretically place near the top in the SP with a 3Z-2T, 2A, 3T at Nagano. That still puts you in the medal mix. I think it would be fascinating to take this version of Bobek in an alternate universe and see what the USFSA would've done with her v. Kwan / Lipinski.

For reasons you cited, Bobek as slayer would have without a doubt been sent to Worlds in 96, not Lipinski, who would've missed 97 Worlds. The 97-98 seasons may have turned into a Kwan / Bobek rivalry.
 

MacMadame

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Does anyone know what Nicole is up to now? She's been out of the spotlight for a while now and I hope everything is okay with her.
 

Foolhardy Ham Lint

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I found it shocking that the USFSA had the balls to dump the reigning world bronze medalist from the 1996 world team. As others have said, Bobek's loss was Lipinski's gain.

For some reason, Nicole's home life always struck me as very unsettled. Thanks mostly to her natural talent, I'm amazed that she achieved as much as she did.

A shame Nicole couldn't put it together when it really counted. If she had skated her routines from the 1998 National Championships equally as well in Nagano, I'm pretty sure she would have won bronze.

It was almost as shocking as Russia leaving Tuktamysheva off the 2016 World Team. Granted, Liza came 8th at the 2016 National Championships after winning the world title 8 months earlier. Although in that instance, the Russian National Championships seem to be for the most part, the qualifier for Europeans and Worlds.
 
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overedge

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For some reason, Nicole's home life always struck me as very unsettled.

She (or her mother) regularly changed coaches, so she was moving from place to place to place. She didn't really have any stability in her life, and she probably wasn't at any place long enough to make close friends. IIRC because she moved so often she also didn't attend school regularly.
 

Foolhardy Ham Lint

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She (or her mother) regularly changed coaches, so she was moving from place to place to place. She didn't really have any stability in her life, and she probably wasn't at any place long enough to make close friends. IIRC because she moved so often she also didn't attend school regularly.

Back in the sport's golden age when an elite skater (and their family) could make some decent money.

Skaters really do sacrifice a normal childhood in pursuit of their dreams.
 

barbk

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Nicole Bobek and Christopher Bowman were both amazingly talented skaters who could sell a routine to the top row of an arena. Unfortunately, they each had their own demons that kept them from achieving at the levels that their talent would have supported.

They loved the crowd, and the crowd loved them right back. I saw them each skate quite a few times. Neither seemed to be much of a practice skater--but when the show lights went on, wow.

(And while Bobek did flutz, mightily, that was not considered such a terrible thing back in the day. Double footing jumps or falling was way worse.)
 

overedge

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Back in the sport's golden age when an elite skater (and their family) could make some decent money.

Skaters really do sacrifice a normal childhood in pursuit of their dreams.

Or their parents make them sacrifice their childhood. Some skaters are really driven and ambitious on their own, but for others it's the parent's dream that's being pursued, not the skater's.
 

Plusdinfo

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Or their parents make them sacrifice their childhood. Some skaters are really driven and ambitious on their own, but for others it's the parent's dream that's being pursued, not the skater's.
I think one of the fluff pieces on American television states that Nicole's mother was a figure skater back in Czechoslovakia (which was the country's name/status at the time). It then shows a forlorn Nicole talking about doing skating-related tasks while most other kids her age weren't so focused on a long-term goal.

To answer the original poster's question, Nicole could have won the 1995 world championships and even more. In fact, many write that her bronze medal wasn't justified but was a result of judges trying to reward her for what they could. I think that people are right to comment on her power, speed, show stopping qualities, and phenomenal spirals. Having a triple lutz-triple toe during her era was not the norm for the ladies, so her layout was strong enough that, when executed, she could have won those Birmingham worlds and other big titles, but injuries, personal problems, and a general lack of consistent personal self-discipline are hard to overcome. Even with her struggles, she had a solid career.

I see some parallels between Nicole and Jennifer Capriati, especially when it comes to their lack of schooling/not being very well-spoken and their brushes with the law. When they are both in the right frame of mind, they have a spark to them, and they also share the commonality of living in Florida.
 

Louis

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I wonder if people at the time gave USFS grief for not giving Bobek the bye to 1996 Worlds considering she was a reigning world medalist and Tara ended up placing 15th there.

After a couple of good summer competitions, Bobek had a disastrous fall, landing nothing harder than toe or salchow (and sometimes not even that). She then came under heavy criticism (including from many in the USFS) by skating in the Nutcracker tour over Christmas instead of training for Nationals. The pre-Nationals coaching change didn't do her favors either. She went into Nationals with a lot of people seriously fed up and rooting against her.

If there was any outrage about her not receiving a bye (I wasn't online until the following years), her disastrous performance at Centennial on Ice - where she fell on all three jumps in the short program, doubled everything in the free skate, and finished last in both segments - quieted any second-guessing. Those performances would have had her last at Worlds, without a doubt.

I do think Bobek at her best would have been a multiple-time World medalist / champion. Her technique wasn't bad by 90s standards and wasn't a barrier when she was actually in shape, which was rare. She unfortunately crash dieted very often and spoke about being bulimic in the period leading up to 1998 U.S. Nationals. She was on fire in those practices, landing 3Lz3T, 3F3T, and 3T3T plus 2A2A sequence. Her actual competitive performances, as good as they were, were a let-down compared to the firepower she was showing in practice. The program itself, as originally choreographed by Robin Cousins, was not bad, but had become unrecognizable to the point that he was distancing himself from it.
 

Judy

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I remember saying to a coworker once that I was an ordinary person. Her response was that it is sometimes easier just to be ordinary. Expectations for people who are not and living up to expectations can be very difficult.

I remember as a teenager and just NOT liking drugs which back then was pot. It’s legal in Canada now but I simply can’t stand the smell. I did try it and was like 🤢. my understanding is that meth is so highly addictive. It does say a LOT that she got out of it because addiction is ruthless. So I have great respect for that.
 

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