Layfan, I hope Mirai has some wondeful international wins. When you are skating in the shadow of a favorite champion and other world medalists it can be very intimidating. Kwan, Lipinski, Hughes, Kim are great event skaters. All do (did) well under stress and pressure for the most part. Mirai is someone who lacks that confidence. She has lovely combination jumps. Kim will be remembered for her speed and flow and her huge jumps softly landed. This years programs show the growth in her artistry under the expert team she has. As Bezic once said OGM does not always define success. People obsessed with CoP scores and Kim's will always say (especially the young, new Korean fans of Kim who really love her to death) that these scores prove she is the best now and forever, until someone (and it will have to be a Kim protege!) shatters those numbers.
To be totally fair, was MK so great because she got all those 6.0 s? More than any male or female by far? That is not how I look at it. Judges gush too. How can one say she was better than Brian Boitano? It is impossible to compare male and female single skaters. Yet if we take the scores we must all agree she is the best American skater ever, male or female. Reputation marks helped Kwan at times when she wasn't clean or the best. They will and have helped Kim and Asada. Kwan is always introduced as the most decorated American in history. No authorities ever say MK is the best lady ever. It just is not stated this way. I guess it would upset Albright, Heiss, Flemming, Hamill, Yamaguchi, Kerrigan (two Oly Medals -same as Kwan's) Lipinski, Hughes, Sumners, Lynn and their ardent fans. It is us, her ordinary fans fans that gush about her most.
As a few posters have pointed out, if you have just started watching skating since Yu-Na or some have said they have only seen the Olympics, do you feel you are as qualified to judge skating as say, Joesitz who has watched several decades?
I enjoy skaters who really are musical and skate with passion. This performance quality is a bit harder to achieve under CoP, I think. But Mirai seems to wow many people, internationally. This performance passion, or joy in the moment is why MK has fans all over the world.
No other judged sport is like figureskating. Popularity, insider favoritism, audience appeal, time in the sport (dues) affect outcomes. Look at how powerful federations are and how they lobby, cheat, even for their skaters. And powerful commentators like Button, Bezic, Hamilton can make or break a skater with their gushy favoritism. Two words. Salt Lake. Nuff said about favoritism and $$ incentives.
The best doesn't always win. And numbers are easily manipulated under CoP as they were under 6.0. Kim was going to win even if she fell on her triple triple. 23 points? Go back and read all the comments on GS or FSU on the Olympic threads to see how all the folks were so appalled by the overscoring in general. It seems everyone had personal bests in the judged sports, certainly FS.
Some may say it is cultural or personality, but Kim is rather a cool competitor. Don't get me wrong, she was the best in Vancouver, two great performances. Best packaged lady out there. Now go watch her gala skate. She had just won the Gold! I know a lot of people said they were underwhelmed. Was it her? the music? The boring choreo? They did not even get the dress right. This should have been an exciting or at least memorable skate! She should have done her Bond SP. For someone who likes to skate shows, well, it was emailed. Her moment to revel in her win and it was lacklustre. I know her ardent supporters will see it very differently. I wish she had reprised Bond as that is a great program for her. She did not look like she was happy, excited! She is a stunning pressure/big event skater but I am still waiting to see her skate without self consciousness and with her heart. Yu-Na is an ice queen and seems very sweet and nice, so everyone likes her. But I don't see passion. Maybe way too much stress to win. Her worlds was ? She seemed like a different girl.
A lot of people feel cool about Arakawa. She had everything, can do everything, but she is a very "cool" skater. Beautiful, elegant, eveything you would expect of a champion and womanly. It was not the best OGM ladies performance. It was not her best skating. Still, it was enough that night. Still her fans and Japan fans can say she's the best female because she has that gold. I wonder who Japan favors most. Ito? Asada? Sato? They have so many great ladies. I guess now it is all about Asada and her 3 axels.
For me Sato is the most elegant, naturally gifted skater. But Arakawa has Oly gold. By what criteria do you judge so many talented people? For me it comes down to performance ability and joy. Also, passion, excitement and intensity. And jumps matter. Sasha was said by Peggy to have been the greatest practice skater. As exquisite as she is, she could not compete. She even said her Oly silver was a gift. If Sasha had stayed on her feet and not two footed so many jumps, she'd have won every event. So, of course Kim's consistency is great, as well as the speed into her huge difficult 3x3. That part is stunning. But speed without proper lines, finished positions is not something I gush about. Katia had no jumps but she succeeded in part as a singles skater because she was fast, light, and had flawless beautiful basic skating. Her blades are silent. She has always been an artist, bringing her heart and soul to every performance. This is why people still watch her at nearly forty. Obviously there are other reasons for her fandom in the US.
I can't convince anyone that Mirai is super talented. I can only say that when she is on, her skating holds my attention and satisfies me. Will she be lucky? I hope so. She is someone who will get even better. At 20, I hope she wins her Oly gold, if she earns it fair and square. I'm for Mirai!
I don't want to underestimate her ability to compete. I hope she proves me wrong.
And I'm hoping Flatt gets fair scores this year. I know everyone prefers Mirai to Flatt and Wagner, but I enjoy both of these skaters as well. It's tough when you like everybody.
As for natural talent, I'd say two very hardworking people won OGM this cycle. Evan and Kim are known for natural talent plus work ethic plus best teams. It takes more than talent to get where they are.