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Thread: most Underrated Skater is...?

  1. #46
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    Luckily Kristi proved them wrong in her pro career and she became one of the top marketable skaters. They were late to the party but thank God they finally saw that Kristi deserved more with the record she had.

  2. #47
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    Eyria and Ogre Mage--I think you summed up everything about why I chose Kristi as most underrated skater but didn't put in my post. Eyria, you are absolutely right about the anti-Japanese sentiment in the early '90s. I remember the things you mentioned and also recall Andy Rooney talking about how an "all-American girl from California won the Olympic gold medal in figure skating whose name just happens to be Yamaguchi" or something close to that. Rooney was clearly making a point about how many people didn't seem to think a "real" American had won.

    Lavendar--Good point about how Kristi prevailed by maintaining the high standards of her pro career and getting a lot of endorsement deals.

    Rgal--I've heard others say that Kristi, for all her abilities, doesn't "move" them. Yet I have a friend who literally wept every time we saw SOI and Kristi did a featured classical solo. This friend would say, "I don't know what it is, but something about her just GETS me!" I guess it's just one of those things, kind of like falling in love. It's either there or it ain't. Also, I know for myself, seeing Kristi with SOI every year for 10 years made her grow on me, plus I think as she matured she focused less on the jumps--though she kept them clean and polished--and more on the totality of the choreography. By the time she did "Bridge Over Troubled Water" she just did me in and I can't imagine any other skater doing that program with the depth of emotion and technical ability Kristi did. Yet that same year--'01?--she skated "Bridge" at the Hallmark Skater's Championship (formerly World Pro) and got very low marks. The commentators said perhaps it was because she didn't skate as fast as the others, though I wondered if it was the often talked about judges' way of telling you to get out of competition. Anyway, Kristi didn't move me at first, but over the years with SOI she sure did.

    Zanzibar--Next to Kristi I'd put Ilia Kulik. The guy is not one of the most brilliant jumpers ever to grace the sport, but IMO he's a true artist on the ice. I think his marriage to Katia didn't garner more attention because Ilia and Katia seemed to keep their relationship quiet. As Katia mentions in the article (see thread "Katia Article") and as I saw on a number of forums, when Katia and Ilia were living together before they got married, there was a lot of Katia bashing--How could she do this to Sergei? What are they doing living together? Why doesn't Ilia marry her? and much, much worse things I won't repeat. It's died down now but I wonder if Ilia's relationship with and marriage to Katia hurt his career with SOI because of the way some fans responded? Also, Ilia was never one to promote himself or have an agent promote him as OGM. In interviews he always said the main thing he was interested in was doing things on the ice that had never been done before, choreographically speaking. I also wonder if his insistence on doing the choreography for his own solo numbers with SOI and taking himself out of most of the group numbers so he could concentrate on that hurt him with SOI too. I don't know and am just wondering, but as much as I love Yags and like Todd, Kulik was by far the most technically and artistically talented male skater with SOI from '99 to '02. He'd also built up a following with SOI and IMO was a stronger all-around performer than Yags or Todd. In Katia's interview she said she thought it was the money, that SOI could not afford two Russian OGM, ie Kulik and Yags. I'd hate for them to have to make a choice, but I'm sorry, they were still paying Meno & Sand to skate when they had three other pairs teams when SOI was low on men who could jump. I'm grumbling off-topic, but anyway, ITA that Ilia Kulik, though very much appreciated by most figure skating fans, was, in general, underrated by the general public aware of figure skating. Although, and I've told this story before, my beer-and-bowling cousin who'd never seen any figure skating, brought his girlfriend to SOI in Phoenix in '99 and said about Kulik, "That guy is stealing the show." Can you tell how bummed out I am that SOI dropped Ilia? BIG TIME! I'm hoping with the change in artistic directors that they will rehire him. If they don't, it will be the biggest waste of one of the greatest OGM pro skaters ever.
    Rgirl

  3. #48
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    Rgirl,
    interesting point about the difference between being underrated by figure skating fans and being underrated by general public or casual fans.

    About Kulik-I think the most underrated Olympic Gold medalist (at least men) was Alexei Urmanov. Part of this was because he didn't have the pull that Kulik, Yagudin and even Petrenko had in North America. This is not to say that there aren't any North Americans who don't like him-only that when we compare him to the other OGM Urmanov did not have the "popularity". Of course another reason was because of various injuries etc. he was never on the map enough for NA to see him.
    Back to Kulik I don't think that he is underrated by figure skating fans, and I recall him getting a lot of attention in the general press about his "Leo DiCapprio"(or whatever his name is) looks. I do think that the attention on him did die down somewhat, partly because there were other men-Plushy and Yagudin etc (even though they were amateur and Kulik was a pro) to sort of "take over." Also, Kulik's wanting a more private out of the spotlight life, especially after he married Katia(which did garner mainstream press-People magazine).

    But, I think that for the talent he has-Kulik is underrated and under appreciated. IMHO-he is one of, if not the, top male skater of the 1990s. So it is kind of unfortunate that he does not get the same accord that Yagudin does.

    About being underrated by the fans, I think when you skated and who you skated against also plays a factor into being underrated or not. Since the popularity of figure skating messageboards and downloading videos during the late 1990s, more people have an opprotunity to learn about skaters than they would if all they could rely on was ABC figure skating. (Although the fact that to the general public Katerina Witt and Dorothy Hamill are still the skaters most people remembers-ruins my theory about the internet increasing popularity...)

    Interesting that being successful does not always lead to large fan bases. For example, Grishuk and Platov-2 Olympic Golds, 4 WC etc. Yet, it seems as if they never had (and I could be wrong) a huge fanbase. In fact, it seems as if Usova and Platov have more of a fanbase.

  4. #49
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    Somehow Grischuk became the "bad guy" and Usova the "good guy" in their romantic tangle. But it was great theater for a while, and probably contributed to public interest in ice dance.

    Urmanov, in pro competitions in the U.S., became the one the fans came out to cheer against. I think that Alexei came to relish this role a little bit. I was glad when he finally won the World Pro Championship -- the last one, I think.

    Mathman

  5. #50
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    Rgal wrote:
    Interestingly enough, I heard Kristi say in an interview once that she loved to jump so much that she, herself, thought her focus on that aspect of skating took away from other aspects. (Her implication was that it detracted from her artistic presentation.)

    I recall an interview with Christy Ness who said that "Kristy is not a natural born jumper and had to work really hard to leanr her jumps." Please excuse my paraphrasing since it was part of a fluff piece on TV.

    S8M8 wrote:
    Punsilin and Swallow, great American ice dancers that NEVER got their due until the pro ranks. Great quality and heart to their skating and one of the most undermarked ID pairs in the last 20 years.

    I agree, but I think they were restricted by the judging. As pros, they have really been appreciated. My favorite program of theirs is Umbrellas of Cherbourg. They beat Usova and Platov who were performing to the same music.

    Rgirl et. al. You make good points regarding Kristi's being underappreciated. Another contributing factor to add is that she did not dominate the scene between 88 and 92. Jill Trenary won US ladies in 89 & 90. Tonya Harding won US ladies in 91. Kristi's only National title came in 92 - she also has 2 World titles from 91 and 92 (never ended up on the podium any other time) and of course the OGM. As a pro, she really blossomed, but bash heard round the world, Oksana, Michelle, Tara, etc were distractions to the general public. I've always respected her for improving her artistry and maintaining her technical skills while on tour. A lot of pro skaters become just entertainers at the expense of their skating skills. I recall mentioning that I believed Kristi could have skated competitively at the last Olympics given how well she maintained her skills - Oksana, Nancy and Tara could not have competed realistically at the past Oly's for various reasons.

  6. #51
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    Originally posted by Rgirl
    I also wonder if his insistence on doing the choreography for his own solo numbers with SOI and taking himself out of most of the group numbers so he could concentrate on that hurt him with SOI too.
    Yes, in his last SOI season Ilia did not participate in group numbers, except of course in the opening and closing. LOL, remembering what those group numbers were like in 2001-2002, I think that it was good that he did not participate... In other seasons though he was very active in ensemble skating, and showed a huge talent in that.

    Personally I think that Ilia´s SOI (and pro career) would have benefitted from using an outside choreographer, a professional one, and maybe also from having somebody else selecting the music... If one has the skating as main career, one needs to have programmes and music which "speak" to the masses.

    I understand that in SOI Ilia was gradually winning a following, but four years was just a too short time for him with the system he used, to become a big name there. It is a pity that Ilia is not in SOI anymore, because there surely should have been room for two very different Russian male skaters.

    I don´t see Ilia as an underrated skater, because how his pro skating career has developed regarding the masses so far, has depended on him and on his own choices, in my opinion (choreography, music, general TV exposure, etc.).

    Anyway, Ilia has given me as a fan many enjoyable skating moments during his eligible career and during his pro career so far. Looking forward to his new programmes... I hope that in the Bacharach Tribute the skating programmes will not be totally ruined by editing, because I really like the music given to Ilia to skate there (A House Is Not A Home).

    Very, very few events (shows or competitions) for pro skaters today and lots of skaters competing about them... Those skaters with a not really big name, need to show in each of them their best skating programmewise and in quality, to be invited again.

    Marjaana
    Last edited by Jaana; 11-08-2003 at 01:47 AM.

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    Jaana,

    Good post, I agree that pro skating definitely needs a jolt. Poor musical cuts, stale choreography, etc. are not helping the situation. Something has to change. Ilia is wonderfully talented. His victory in Nagano was hugely far and above the rest of the field competing in that event. I'd love to see Ilia and other talented pros take more chances and perhaps bring back some of that excitement that has been lost in the professional world.

    LOL! I happen to think Tonya Harding was underrated. Okay...I've just opened a MASSIVE can of worms, but, when she wasn't hiring goons to attack her lead competitor or drinking in a pool tavern, she was a phenomenal skater. She wasn't the classical artist, but she had powerful style that wasn't without it's aesthetic postives. So many say she had no artistry at all, that she could only jump, but just look at the 1991 Nationals and Worlds. She skated so well. She had fire and determination and a power no one could match. I'm not at all condoning her conduct and behavior, but purely as a skater Tonya was immensely gifted. She just had a poor work ethic and moral character. I think that what she did in 1994 has damned everything that came before...and that is unfortunate. She gave the skating world some incredible moments in 1991 and those should be remembered as such.

  8. #53
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    I think that a good definition of underrated is that Stars on Ice could drop a skater of Kulik's ability with few peeps from the ticket-buying public. For goodness sake, Todd Eldredge is on the SOI roster, as are four pairs teams, according the the SOI website. (No dance; what a pity.)

    Underrated to me is being an unusual and/or artistic and/or elegant skater or team, but not being marketable in the US and Canada, because the skater or team isn't American or doesn't have a "story" that can be exploited by a marketing department.

  9. #54
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    meh... i wouldnt think so..Sasha is a really great skater.

  10. #55
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    I have mixed feelings as to whether or not Ilia Kulik is underrated. I think Ilia is an amazing skater, and I agree that he was really fun to watch the last few years in Stars on Ice. In terms of sheer jumping skill and choreographic innovation, I think Ilia is one of the best. But I also think that Ilia could have been a much better and more complete skater than he ever became; basically, I feel that he had a lot of potential that he never fully tapped. So I don't know if I would really consider him underrated; I kind of feel like the the skating public (if not the general public) has a pretty good sense of what Ilia's all about.

    I think Ilia's problem is the he's one of those skaters, along with Tara and Sarah, who kind of seized their golden moment at the Olympics, then cashed in quickly, dropped out of the eligible scene, and consequently lost the opportunity to build their fan base--*and* their skating skills--by competing and appearing on TV frequently.

    The last two things can go hand in hand. Ideally, the longer skaters compete, the better they usually get, and the more exposure they get. So ideally, by having a long eligible career, you continuously improve your skills *and* continously increase your fan base. Of course this doesn't happen with every skater. But it does happen with some skaters, and I would argue that those are the skaters who sometimes have the best skills and the strongest fan bases. Yagudin and Michelle are probably the two prime examples of skaters who chose to stay in the eligible ranks for extended periods, who worked hard to improve their skills and performance level, and who accordingly built huge fan bases over the years.

    By dropping out of the eligible scene immediately after Nagano, Ilia forfeited both the greater challenges and the greater opportunities of eligible skating. As a result, he doesn't have either the popularity, fan base, or all-around skills and performance level that Yagudin does, for example.

    So I don't know if Ilia is underrated or not. I sort of suspect that he's right where he should be, in terms of general popularity and reputation. Just my two cents' worth.

  11. #56
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    Originally posted by hockeyfan228
    Underrated to me is being an unusual and/or artistic and/or elegant skater or team, but not being marketable in the US and Canada, because the skater or team isn't American or doesn't have a "story" that can be exploited by a marketing department.
    I agree that is one aspect of being underrated. I think that there are skaters who are respected for their skills, but don't have as large of a fanbase as their talent or skills would suggest.-Does that make sense to anyone but me?!


    I need a new hobby:o

  12. #57
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    Kulik and SOI

    Rrgirl -

    Completely agree with you about Kulik. I wish that anything would occur which cause SOI to drop Eldredge off the tour and put Kulik back in. I also think Kulik's presence would keep Yags on his toes, so to speak.

    And Meno and Sand....snooze. Eldredge....double-snooze.
    But, I'd bet a grand that Kulik will never skate for them again, sadly.

  13. #58
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    underrated today...

    Liashenko, van der Perren, and that Murvanidze guy.

  14. #59
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    My opinion...Oksana Baiul.:\

  15. #60
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    Originally posted by eyria
    By dropping out of the eligible scene immediately after Nagano, Ilia forfeited both the greater challenges and the greater opportunities of eligible skating. As a result, he doesn't have either the popularity, fan base, or all-around skills and performance level that Yagudin does, for example.
    I think that Ilia dropped out of the eligible scene at the right moment. He had gotten what all skater´s are dreaming of: won the Olympic gold medal. What he should have done earlier, was to win a couple of Worlds... He had every chance for that, and in 1996 was very near to it.

    In middle August just before the Olympic season Ilia had a foot injury which took him off-ice for a month. That affected his early season. And during the Olympic season Ilia started to have problems with his back; that quad... When a skater gets those kind of back problems, it is time to do some hard thinking, in my opinion. I think Ilia made the right decision for his future career, prefer to see him skating as a healthy pro rather than as an injured eligible or pro...

    In my opinion Ilia as a Russian skater has at least the same all-around skating skills and performance level than Yagudin! They are though totally different kind of skaters, and as such not well comparable, in my opinion.

    Marjaana
    Last edited by Jaana; 11-09-2003 at 02:40 AM.

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