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Thread: Kristi vs. Michelle--at their best...

  1. #1
    Tripping on the Podium
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    Kristi vs. Michelle--at their best...

    It's undeniable that both Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan have proved themselves to be great champions. But who, when at her best, was better?

    I'm not asking for a career comparison, although that would be interesting with Kristi having the Olympic gold medal while Michelle has more titles and longevity on her side. I'm asking who has come closer to sheer perfection, even if it was in a single performance.

    Personally, I think it's very close, but I gotta go with Kristi. I recently watched Kristi's Olympic performance, and although she had mistakes (fall on loop, doubled salchow), her artistry was just amazing. She had more pizazz and more of a "snap" in her skating, which I find more exciting and interesting than Michelle's lyric style, which can border on boring at times. Also, Kristi was able to master the triple lutz-triple toe combination, which is significantly more difficult than anything Michelle has done technically.

    In Michelle's favor, she was probably a bit more consistent in her jumps, and she never really had problems with one particular jump that Kristi constantly had with her triple salchow. Still, I think Kristi's very best (think her performance at the Nationals in '02) would still beat Michelle at her best (Salome? Lyra Angelica? '04 Nationals?).

    What do you guys think? By the way, I picked Kristi and Michelle, because I think they've combined technical difficulty and wonderful artistry better than anybody else (at least not since '88, when I started watching skating). If you want to talk about someone else, feel free.

  2. #2
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Great topic, TommyK. Welcome to the forum.

    Kristi or Michelle? Wow, I can't decide. These are my two favorite skaters. Even if you consider the longevity of Michelle's career (so far!), you still have to count Kristi's body of work as a professional. Both of them maintained the highest standards of athleticism and artistry for more than a decade. They equally, each in her era, presented the best in character and personality as spokeswomen for the whole sport of figure skating, and both still do.

    Mathman

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    I give Kristi the technical edge even with the troublesome salchow. But I would give Michelle the presentation and competitive edge. Kristi painted a pretty picture, but was always somewhat "contained" and reserved in her presentation IMHO. Kwan's spiral, overall flow and coverage of the ice, as well as her ability to interpret many different styles of music is much more expansive and complex than anything Kristi did in her eligible days.

    Competitively speaking, Kristi was tough. But she HATED skating in front of judges -- and was quoted as saying that many times over. It came across to me when I watched her as an eligible skater. I give her props for pushing past that dislike to really be competitive with the likes of Ito. But she never truly skated with the kind of freedom and abandon that Kwan skates. That's why I think Kristi never really came into her own until she went pro and didn't have to deal with those pressures any longer. The difference between eligible Kristi and pro Kristi is like night and day IMHO.

    Apples and oranges though. Two very complete packages.

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    Well said Mathman and Skate Sandee. Don't have anything to add except that I agree with Skate Sandee--apples and oranges. But both of the very highest calibre
    Rgirl

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    Da' Spellin' Homegirl Grgranny's Avatar
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    I agree that there is almost no answer to that. One thing I will say is that Kristi is one of the few that kept improving after she went pro. So many hold back on the tech when they go pro. (But not Ilia.) I'm glad that we don't have to vote on who is the best overall. I love them both.

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    Arm Chair Skate Fan show 42's Avatar
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    Wow, it's hard when you're comparing two truly great skaters, I love them both, but I have to agree in part with Sandee. Whereas Kristi skated to or with the music, any style beautifully, for me Michelle becomes part of the music, she draws you in. With Kristi, I can sit back and watch perfect skating. With Michelle, I actually feel I am part of the skating.......no better feeling than that........42

  7. #7
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    Fascinating topic . . . It's very hard for me to choose between Kristi and Michelle because they are my two favorite female skaters (as with Mathman). It was Kristi who first drew me into figure skating and made me a fan, and it's Michelle who has kept me interested in the sport ever since.

    What I admire about both of them is their consistency, their perseverance, their commitment to quality in their skating, their courage, their mental strength, and, perhaps most of all, their graciousness and maturity off the ice. As people, Kristi and Michelle seem to share a lot of great qualities.

    As skaters, though, they are very very different. Kristi is delicate, precise, polished, and lovely. Michelle is calm, serene, majestic. I find their styles to be very different, especially when you see them live.

    Technically they are well matched. Both are great jumpers. Overall in her career, Michelle has definitely been more consistent and reliable in her jumps than Kristi. And she gets more height in her jumps. However, Kristi definitely has the edge when it comes to the difficult triple/triple combinations.

    I would give Kristi the nod for spins. I think their speed in spins is similar, but Kristi's spin positions are nicer than Michelle's, particularly in the layback and camel spins. (Although I think Michelle does have a very nice sit spin.)

    Michelle gets the nod for speed, ice coverage, and spirals. Kristi has never been noted for her speed and she also does not have the spiral extensions that Michelle does. (Spirals were not as important in Kristi's era as they have been in Michelle's.)

    I might give Kristi the nod in footwork. Kristi has done a lot of programs in her career with fairly intricate, difficult choreography. Michelle's footwork tends to be a little simpler (although she does probably perform it faster).

    I think if both skated their absolute best in a head-to-head matchup, Kristi might win. But not by much. It would probably be a 5-to-4 judges' split--yet another of those famous judging controversies!! :-)

  8. #8
    TriGirl Rinkside
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    I couldn't even begin to compare these two. I love 'em both, and, as Mathman said, they are great ambassadors for the sport.

  9. #9
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    Re: Kristi vs. Michelle--at their best...

    Originally posted by tommyk75
    Personally, I think it's very close, but I gotta go with Kristi. I recently watched Kristi's Olympic performance, and although she had mistakes (fall on loop, doubled salchow), her artistry was just amazing.
    If I had answered the question before I got the Greatest (sic) Olympic Performance DVD's, I would have said Kwan. But having watched Yamaguchi's gold-medal performance again, I agree with you. I think Yamaguchi's presentation in that performance gives her the edge; she was superb from beginning to end of that program, and the jump flaws didn't affect her overall presentation.

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    I love both, but have to give the edge to Kwan. In the only time they competed against each other in 1996 Kwan beat Kristi.

    If you compare Kristi's 92 olympic lp (flawed with a hand down on one jump) and no triple sal, to Kwan 2000 world program TRV. I think Kwan's program will beat Kristi. Kwan's jumps overall beat Kristi's jumps, and in terms of presentation, i.e. utilization of ice surface, variation of speed, presenting the character of music etc Kwan's TRV should beat Kristi's program too.

    The artistic stuff is totally subjective. Some people prefer Kwan artistically, some prefer Kristi artistically.

  11. #11
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    well... I'm not a fan of Kwan, and I'm a huge Yama fan... so I'll be biased and say Kristi. I think she's the more artistically diverse skater, and during her professional career she really blossomed as a skater and still kept the jumps up... so yeah, Kristi gets my vote!

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    I would have to give the edge to Michelle.

    They both have great technical skills that I think in the end balance out with the weak parts. They have already been listed and I agree with what people were posting so I'll move on to the presentation side.

    I had to go back to tapes because Kristy's eligible career was before my time. I agree that she did seem very tense in competition and her pro skates were many times better in flow and ability to present. I never saw her live (in eligible competition) however, and that can sometimes make a difference. I never really appreciated Todd Eldredge until I saw him live so maybe I would have had the same experience with Kristy.

    Overall though, Michelle has so many more subtle nuances that appeal to me. I always find something more likeable and appealing on a 2nd or 3rd viewing. In contrast, there are always moments that take away from Kristy's performances and I find more that distract on 2nd or 3rd viewings. Michelle's programs grow on me while Kristy's are best seen once for my taste.

    Both are great for the sport and both made it better IMO, I just have to go with the great MK.

    I had to come back to edit with a point for Kristy. There is one program she has done that continues to grow on me every time I see it..... Madame Butterfly. I truely love that one and always hope for more like it.
    Last edited by mpal2; 01-19-2004 at 08:11 PM.

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    What a great topic! I also believe it is too difficult to really choose one, though. Both Yamaguchi and Kwan mastered something quite important in their amateur days....they made all the difficult elements of a program come together and look effortless. I also thought they shared a somewhat similar style (calm and fluid but commanding). It is also important to remember that Michelle's amateur body of work is so large and extensive compared to Kristi's that is difficult to really judge. I would have loved if Kristi had stayed for a few more seasons. Two brilliant seasons (as a major contender) and that was it! I wanted more! "Samson and Delilah" was beautiful, but "Malaguena" was more intricate and mature. I can't imagine what she would have produced for Lillehammer had she stayed eligible.

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    Has to be Kristi

    Kristy won all there was plus had 10 years as the best professional lady in the world. She kepy her triples, she was georgeous to watch, the tech content was always there like Michelle, but her presentation is the best. Plus she can do any style- she is much more versatile and a better dancer than Michelle. Scott and Kurt give the nod to her, though Michelle impresses them for sure. Artistically, I'd give Kristy the edge.

    Now a really hard question would be comparing Kristy and Yuka! Don't think I could decide as Yuka is multi talented like Kris.

  15. #15
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Oh, gosh. I'm sitting here looking at my tape of Michelle's Tosca from Nationals right now. Yeah, I know, triple-triple this and triple-triple that. Still, I've just gotta go with Michelle.

    Mathman

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