Yu-Na is a skater with no glaring weaknesses which is her biggest strength. Down the list, everything ranges from good to superb. There are areas where she needs work or others are better than her, but in the grand scheme of things those areas don't hold her back or prevent her from skating well.
Yu-Na's speed and attack are superb. She flies around the ice and always barrels into her jumps meaning she doesn't slow down or approach them tentatively. Attack and speed are the reasons why her jumps leave such a big impression on the ice. Her technique is pretty much textbook. In the ladies field very few people have the ability to do the two hardest jumps correctly (lutz and flip) and Yu-Na has both...and it just so happens the two hardest jumps that get the most points are her two strongest jumps. She also has the ability to consistently land difficult 3-3s...that immediately gives her a leg up b/c so many ladies struggle to execute 3-3s and most are hit or miss from competition to competition. Yu-Na's 3-3 is pretty much a done deal 95% of the time she steps on the ice...she's not perfect, she does make mistakes every now and then.
I don't necessarily think Yu-Na is a superior artist on the ice, but she is very good. I wasn't crazy about her programs last year but that doesn't mean she didn't present them well or that they weren't good...it just means I didn't care for them. They felt generic and unoriginal to me...I digress. Point is Yu-Na's programs are usually very well done and COP friendly. She knows how to milk points out of the system and she uses that to her advantage. I find her to be an elegant and expressive skater, though some people disagree (to each his own).
There are other skaters out there who share many of the qualities Yu-Na has. As of right now, none of her main competitors has every quality she has. Closest skater to Yu-Na is Carolina IMO. They share the majority of those qualities. Yu-Na's main advantage over Carolina is her jump content and consistency. Carolina is capable of matching Yu-Na's jump content (actually she could surpass it b/c Carolina does a loop which Yu-Na does not); however, ability to do something and actually doing it are two different things and this is why Yu-Na has the technical edge on Carolina. Carolina's consistency has gotten better in the past two or three years but she's still prone to making mistakes. Yu-Na was never known as a consistently clean skater; she often made a mistake here or there as well. Both ladies are able to make a mistake and still maintain their positioning b/c they are superior to the rest of the field when it comes to other things (mainly PCS) but Yu-Na's difficulty advantage is what keeps her ahead of the game. If both ladies had the same content, they'd be in a dead heat in competitions b/c both have correct edge quality jumps, speed, beautiful presentation, strong skating skills, and well done programs.
So, for me, Yu-Na has many lovely qualities but it's that combination of all of those qualities that make her such a special skater.
What separates Kim from the rest is that she has an OGM and she skates consistently well with big tricks, nice presentation. She has the majority of the jumps with no edge issues whereas Carolina isn't quite there yet and Mao has lots of issues hence she keeps changing her focus and still isn't consistent ie. 3A focus to 3 flip focus to 3 lutz focus etc. Carolina has had so many bad skates it will take some time for her to be considered consistent. KIm has no real weakness, not to say she is amazig but she is good musically, good spins good jumps, high difficulty of combos, good presentation, confident, etc. Not many have it all and she does.
eyria and Eclair, thanks for your posts. eyria I'm glad you commented about coming to appreciate YuNa in 2011, it's really interesting to me. Having watched figure skating casually since the early 1990's, I was extremely skeptical when I first heard the whispers among Koreans about an impressive Korean figure skater coming up in the ranks. Mostly because growing up, I was overexposed to Korean media and my parents' exaggerated reports of Korean talents, athletes, whatevers, who weren't actually at the highest elite level. Then when I saw the 16-year old YuNa, I was floored because despite some of her awkwardness and young lack of polish, I could see the athletic talent, the musicality she was displaying. And that's when I started following her and truly becoming her fan.
Now I have rose-tinted glasses that I know I cannot take off. If I were to have posted your words on here, it would just look like an uber-fan's gushing. Even I would think it's just fanatical gushing on my part so I would be too shy to post something like that. But coming from you, someone who has come to appreciate her without expecting to be impressed by her, is heart-warming for me to hear.
It's my turn to say the same for Carolina Kostner. I have always liked her, and 1-2 programs by her in the past. I could see that her technique is solid, her skating skills and other basics are very strong. After YuNa retired in 2011, I didn't follow figure skating as closely as before, but I did return here to watch and read discussions about Carolina's 2012 WC win--finally! and well-deserved. But I was definitely not prepared to be blown away by her in the London WC's. For me, only YuNa and Carolina popped out from the ice in 3-D, their performances and projection truly reaching out to me on the third level of the arena. I apologize to say that the other ladies looked "smaller" on the ice and would have come off more favourably if they had been watched on a screen.
I am not sure if Carolina is helped by being taller; it may or may not be a factor. All her moves have a grandiosity and flourish that do make her appear like a confident Champion (YuNa has these things, too.) Along with her strong jumping abilities, skating skills, musicality and Lori Nichol choreography, all of these things have me convinced that the only thing holding her back from YuNa-esque monstrous scores are the mistakes. Carolina may not "attack" her elements quite like YuNa does, but all caution is thrown to the wind when she is performing. She is really something.
So, I don't find YuNa "superior" to her. YuNa is more consistent (and consistency is no small feat.) Otherwise, I consider them equals, and am quite amenable to others finding Carolina superior. But I will say that I do consider these two to be on another plane above the rest of the current field.
Kwanatic, I really like your post and I think it explains things exceedingly well. Basically, YuNa is excellent to outstanding at just about everything, and she is able to bring these strengths to the ice almost every time. Your details about how she speeds into her jumps and how her technique is so pure really embody her in a clear and respectful way.
Deedee, I too feel protective of Mao, as you know. Between her and YuNa, I feel tremendously spoiled and indulged as a fan these days, because we get to watch such quality and beauty every time either of them skates. I don't like them both the same, because they aren't the same. I do love them both with just about equal intensity. I love some things in YuNa and love other things in Mao.
As for the adversity that Mao has faced, both on and off the ice, I remind myself that she is made of tough stuff, and she will never give up. I hope that she skates her best-ever season. In the ideal world, I'd hope for an OGM tie between her and YuNa! So I'm not the one to ask about what's possible in the coming season. Thank goodness I'm not a judge!
I agree with everything you said there. I'm a relatively new Carolina Kostner fan. For the longest time I really didn't like her. I thought she robbed Yu-Na of a silver medal at worlds in 2008 which in turn robbed Yukari Nakano of a medal that year. She frequently made mistakes yet she always seemed to outscore everyone. I didn't get it...I totally get it now.
Her speed is incredible, her jumps are lovely, her skating skills are perfection and the way she performs blows me away. In terms of artistry, I think she is the class of the field. The fact that she got me to love Bolero is all the proof I need! She's musical and expressive, has an amazing presence on the ice and a beautiful ability to interpret music. In the last three years she has improved so much and I really appreciate what she brings to the ice. As you said (and I said earlier) Yu-Na's only real advantage is her consistency and, with them being so closely matched, that's what makes the difference.
Prior to Vancouver there was no comparison when it came to Yu-Na and everybody else. She was so far in front of the field it was a bit pointless to even have a competition; just give her the medal and everybody go home! But now, as much as some people don't want to admit (for whatever reason), Carolina is an even match for Yu-Na...and to be honest I prefer it that way. It makes the sport more interesting. The two of them are on another planet and it is wonderful to have these two beautiful and talented skaters leading the way to Sochi. I'd be happy to see either one of them win...
Did anyone realize Yuna, Mao, and Carolina have been on the same podium at least 4 separate occasions.
2 GPFs and 2 Worlds, spanning 5+ years. All have managed to beat each others at least once.
Confidence, Consistency, Charisma, A "this is me, take it or lump it" attitude. For the lack of a better word the girl has "IT"!!
Yuna delivers superior results in competition compared to her rivals because of her pristine, superb and consistent jumping technique and her natural musicality. No, I don't think she's any more artistic than either Mao or Carolina. Mao and Carolina I consider very artistic and expressive no less than Yuna, uniquely expressive in their own style. In terms of jumps they even surpass Yuna in some respects--Mao has the triple Axel while Carolina has the full set of triples with the correct technique. But they do not have the steely resolve and unwavering focus that Yuna has when she wants to win. The greatest competitions are not won by pure talent--in art or in sport. They are won by champions.
This thread will be another Mao/Yuna/Caro (I am happy to see the "old" rivalry includes her nowadays, yey!) bashing. Why would anyone want Mao, Caro, or anyone elsecopycat Yuna? Just look at the 10000 Plushy copies. No current lady skater can replicate Yuna's Bond (or come even close). Many find Carolina's feel for the music (and recent programs) superior to Yuna. And with Mao, I don't see anyone skating so delicate as she did in Nocturne or Ladies in Lavender, with her quick turns and perfect lines and posture
yuna is good because people like her. she works at it. she makes it look easy like michelle, without making major glaring errors.
you have to look for them