Comparing Janet Lynn to someone like Carolina Kostner, there isn't a single "free skating" thing that Lynn does better. Her skating is lovely to watch but the top skaters now are so much more dynamic and have greater extension, spins, and jumps. I can see how someone like Yuka Sato is a modern version of Janet Lynn and I'd love to see more technically evolved versions of her skating.
If Janet had come along in the last 20 years she would have been even better. She simply did what was expected and needed for the time in terms of jumping for instance. Janet was a very good jumper for her time and i can't see Janet being less of a jumper then say Mirai or Alissa for instance.
I think she has better artistry and more charisma. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And better transitions and skating skills. Her technical skills can't be compared because different things were valued in her era--ie, figures.
Originally Posted by drivingmissdaisy
It is interesting to see the responses in this thread. Many of the replies seem to fall under:
1) We cannot compare past skaters to present ones because of the vastly different criteria by which they are judged. i.e. Lynn had to spend time training figures, whereas Kostner does not
2) We cannot compare the past to present skaters because figure skating as a sport has developed unidirectionally. i.e. Janet Lynn has laid the groundwork for Kwan who laid the groundwork for Kim etc.
3) We should look at these performances by objective criteria regardless of time period. e.g. Lynn had better edges than Kostner, and Mao has more triple jumps than Emi Watanabe
4) This is an entirely subjective matter, and thus we cannot compare anyone amongst these qualities mentioned by Dave and the OP.
5) We are human, and we can be biased by nostalgic factors such as when we first became interested in figure skating. Or, by factors such as nationality.
For me, I think we sometimes overrate older skaters under #5, but that we also underrate them in terms of #2 and #1.
Sometimes I go through phases where all I want is to watch skaters from the 70s and 80s. I think I appreciate skaters like Lynn not only because of her ethereal qualities, but because I don't have the expectation that she is going to pull off 3-3s. But sometimes I just want to watch Ito's 1988 Olympic LP over and over again.
FWIW I think Kim's Danse Macabre is a modern classic, as well as Mao's Nocturne I.
Lynn has more charisma and projection than Kostner.
I don't think Lynn has the same skating skills that Kostner has. Kostner is more striking on the ice because of her statuesque built, long limbs, pointed toe, amazing line, and one of the most inconsistent skaters of all time. Ideal for skating because the thrill is always there.
For me, it isn't only about the jumps. I believe that more thought is put into program construction these days, which is understandable since your placement depends entirely on the programs rather than being a smaller factor after figures. Aside from John Curry, I didn't find that the singles skaters of the past were effective at interpreting the nuances of the music. The best skated around joyfully and elegantly, and generally the music could have been replaced with another nice piece with no difference in how the choreography was done.
Originally Posted by kappa_1
Trixie Schuba's biggest fan!
To me, I don't think we over/underrate anyone. Without the past skaters, the current crop would have no one to look up to. Kim has admitted to looking up to Kwan, who at one time, wanted to emulate Lynn (she also wanted to emulate Harding, but only in jumps).
Which apparently she was bad at. And that is where her value lies; she was trapped between two sets of values and was an exceptional enough skater to make everyone take notice of an inherent injustice in judging what determines a great skater. Because of that she started a conversation and debate and helped usher in the modern era. Is it too much to call her the god-mother of the modern era? No. She is due that, full period, stop. Anything more? THAT is debatable. She is certainly not one of the best of the modern era and during the extent of her career internationally didn't make much of a mark. Actually, one could make the argument that there just might be a little bit of nostalgic "inflation" occurring where her performances are concerned.
Originally Posted by jenaj
Didn't make much of a mark internationally? The French in 1971 at Worlds nearly rioted because of the system which kept great free skaters like Janet down. The system was changed because of Janet and things that happened like that day in Lyon France.
Originally Posted by RABID
But if you judge her under IJS criteria--ie, edges and flow on the ice, multidirectional skating, power, etc.--they are at least equal. Janet was known for doing a minimal number of crossovers to gain speed and power. I agree that Carolina probably has the best skating skills (for a female skater) of the current era.
Originally Posted by FlattFan
I think it would be interesting to try to compare skaters from different eras according to the PCS criteria.
Originally Posted by jenaj
Of course there can never be a completely even playing field because the technical elements are so different and so are some of the general rules. As is the training, e.g., school figures or not; what kind of off-ice training, if any, is popular, etc.
But the basics of figure skating are pretty much the same no matter when.
Two things that contemporary skaters could learn from Janet Lynn:
1. Every single position is fully extended. Almost always. And you can't beat the line that you get when everything is fully extended--for one thing it sure as heck 'projects' into the audience;
2. She took her time. It makes everything look finished and polished.
Jumps may be bigger with more rotations, but those two attributes -- extension and finished/polished moves -- will always separate the good from the great.
I am aware of that, as I noted in my comment. However I am talking about her podium appearances. If we're going to talk context then this is her competitive career in context; 2 bronze, one silver from international competitions in 9 years. I don't dispute the controversy, no one does, but those are the facts as Wikipedia has it and that was the system she grew up in. My whole issue with her is not her per se, it is the CONSTANT hoisting of her and others of her era and those before her OVER those who came later as if her and others from the long past ARE the PREEMINENT reference points for great skating when in reality they and their style of skating have long been surpassed.
Originally Posted by Jammers
Trixie Schuba's biggest fan!
(Totally playing Devil's advocate, here, so please take no offense )
Originally Posted by RABID
Reality is relative to the viewer. Remember that many of the fans come from different times. Some appreciate Janet more because they come from that era. Then there are those of us who are from the later era, and are able to appreciate her because we grew up, so to speak, during 6.0.
It's not so much that they have been surpassed, as the rules have changed, which left their styles behind. If we had the hypothetical, "what if so and so skated now...," I think the skaters of yesteryear will no doubt be training as hard as Kim, Ando, Lipnitskaya.
To me, the difference is that back then figure skating was more artsy and now it is more sporty. Yuna Kim's Lez Mis is right at the top of my list, but it is a sports thrill rather than a staring-up-at-the-Sistine-Chapel thrill.
I would say the same about one of my all-time favorites, Michelle Kwan's Tosca at 2004 U.S. Nationals. It was a slam dunk, a Hail Mary complete with victory dance in the end zone (her footwork sequence). Artistry, who cares? Flutz? What flutz? Like Yuna at 2013 Worlds, Michelle knocked the other girls into next week!
Now that we have CoP scoring the difference between Janet Lynn's era and the present one is all the more stark. Points, points, points. Get points. Get more points. Get the most points. Who says figure skating is all arty-fartsy and not a real sport?