Effects of teen growth spurts on skaters
I came across this article, it's from 2008, but really, what it's about isn't limited to five years ago
The fact is growthspurts and the onset of puberty can really disrupt a skater's career, especially girls. Even Michelle Kwan struggled with it.
Why do some skaters get completely thrown while others recover more quickly?
Tripping on the Podium
I think it's the degree of change/growth spurt between the different ladies? Although Michelle Kwan went through puberty, I don't think there was much change in terms of height and weight. Hence, it might have affected her skills less. Growth spurt mostly affect balance and coordination which are vital skills in figure skating.
Maybe .. any girls who wish to take up figure skating should look at her parents to gauge her future size?
That's true. Michelle went from around 4'11 and 88 lbs in 1995-96, to 5'2 around 105 lbs in 1996-97, she is definitely more mature and filled out after that year. Even the slightest change can effect a skater.
Originally Posted by spikydurian
I was watching Kimmie Meissner's performance in 2008 and it reminded me of Cynthia Phaneuf at the 2005 Canadians, where Cynthia only landed one clean triple. Both girls were at the forefront and carried the hype while trying to adjust to their new height and weight. Cynthia was also hampered by injury the following year, she regained her jumps and skating in 2009, though not quite able to regain that consistency. Kimmie, of course, was beaten by teens, and those girls, Caroline Zhang, Rachel Flatt and Mirai Nagasu, have all had to adjust to puberty. Mirai had to defend while adjusting to a growthspurt. With Michelle, she only started to struggle after the disaster at 1997 nationals, but in a way, the struggles that year helped her to gain the character she needed going into an Olympic year.
There's more than one factor in play. There are the physical factors and how they affect your skating, and then there's the competition you face at home. Look at Elene Gedevanishvili. Before physical maturity hit her, she was reeling off 3/3s and was a tiny whiz. Then she and her family were kicked out of Russia AND Elene filled out. Now she is inconsistent and struggles to land even a 3/2. But she is the one and only Georgian skater and has no competition, so if she isn't as great as she once was, she still gets to go to Euros and Worlds as long as she can get those TES minimums.
Carolina Kostner had her struggles with jumps as she kept growing taller and taller. Again, she didn't have a lot of competition in Italy, only Valentina Marchei who herself was almost as inconsistent at the time. But Carolina always had her speed, so judges would forgive her jump faults and still give her high PCS scores.
Cynthia Phaneuf had similar struggles with jumps after she grew and developed and had injuries too. There weren't many Canadian ladies at the time who were competitive with her even though Cynthia was far from her best, so Cynthia continued to represent Canada at international competitions until 2012, when Amelie Lacoste won the Canadian championship.
Competition in the US is tough, so skaters who get bitten hard by the puberty bug are quickly passed by other skaters. If Mirai Nagasu had skated for say, Belgium or Netherlands, she would have continued to compete at the highest levels despite her struggles with growth and development and she'd be headed for Sochi today.
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