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Thread: Why is Sarah H so unpopular with so many?

  1. #1
    average opinionated skate fan
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    Why is Sarah H so unpopular with so many?

    I have read and read on this board and others about Sarah Hughes' failings as a skater. Can someone tell me what's the matter with her skating (as it stood when she was actively skating) when compared to other competitors ?

    *She's a nice person and a good example

    * If she had won the gold medal and MK had not been in the competition she would probably be considered a MAJOR national hero in light of the time she won her medal (post 911)

    *She consistantly improved from year to year and NEVER spoke ill of any of her competitors.

    *What she did at the Olympics was NOT unprecidented, the same exact results happened at Skate Canada.

    Please inform me as to why other ladies with considerably less talent than Sarah often are praised to the hilt while Sarah's every mistake or mistep is analyzed to the nth degree.

    Please don't get me wrong, I adore Michelle; however, it seems to me that Sarah's biggest failing is that she "took MK's gold away from her" IMHO.

    Is Sarah just an easy target that people like to "goof" on???

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    I don't feel Sarah took away MK's medal as much as MK lost it. I don't have a problem with Sarah as a person and she's a hell of a lot smarter than I am attending Yale and all. I just don't see Sarah as an OGM. The OGM should be the epitome of ladies skating :ie Baiul, Fleming, Witt and others: a skater for the times. People can gripe about Tara's win but Tara was considerably more polished than Sarah and was a finished product on the ice. Sarah is a consistent jumper but there were too many raw ends with her skating that needed to be polished. She had bad posture plus she doesn't have the look or personality that reaches out and grabs an audience. I think that even if MK didn't exist, Sarah wouldn't have made that much of an impact b/c there are lots of people who don't care about her skating one way or another. I think that's why she focused so much on school b/c I don't think she would have gotten a lot of mileage out of that OGM. Tara didn't get a whole lot out of hers and she was participating as a pro. Audiences want to develop a rapport with the skater. That's why people love MK so much b/c she has a history and you see the highs and lows of her career. Todd is popular for that reason as well. Sarah was non-descript and not an exciting skater. She doesn't have that IT factor.

  3. #3
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Interesting question, Sk8m8. I have had just the opposite impression. That is, it seems to me that Sarah is one of the least picked-on skaters, for all the reasons that you mentioned:

    She's a nice person and an excellent role model for young people, both for athletics and education. As you say, she never complained or spoke ill of her competitors, judges, coaches or anyone else. She represented her country proudly at the Olympics, skating a great performance when all the higher profile skaters took a tumble. Nor can we call it a fluke -- she was the World bronze medalist, after all.

    Of course that is different from discussing the strengths and weaknesses of her actual skating, just like everybody else. You might say that she swung her free leg too high on her jumps, or that she never mastered a true outside edge on her flutz -- stuff like that. But I think almost everybody likes Sarah just fine, even those who are not ardent fans of her skating. I haven't read, about Sarah, anything like the abuse that "lightning rod" skaters like Sasha and Michelle seem to attract.

    Mathman

  4. #4
    TriGirl Rinkside
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    Sarah just doesn't draw me in as a skater. I don't find her style aesthetically pleasing. She seems a bit awkward and unnatural - as though she trying to paint someone else's vision on the ice rather than her own. I'm sure that has more to do with her age than anything else.

    That being said, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Sarah. She has a wonderful work ethic. She sleadily worked her way up the ladder until she reached to top. I applaud that.

  5. #5
    Mr. Michelle Kwan Spirit's Avatar
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    Wow, soogar, you and I must have seen two different skaters.

    Sarah's my favorite, and I also think -- without bias as far as I can tell -- that her OGM was well-deserved.

    Sarah got my attention in the year leading up to the Olympics because she was so graceful and so lovely on the ice, more so than almost any girl or woman I'd ever seen. She had a genuine ability to connect with an audience, and she just seemed to flow so smoothly. She just seemed so down-to-earth while having a great presence on the ice at the same time, IMO the very "it" factor you say she doesn't have.

    On one night in SLC, she decided to let it all flow out of her and skate for fun, rather than for a medal. The result was one of the most spectacular performances I've ever seen, filled with incredible, genuine joy and seven 3/3's.

    Her joy, her smile and her skating connected with the audience so thoroughly that night that for the last 30 seconds of her program, she couldn't even hear her music -- the people were that loud.

    Her performance that night was awesome, and for those of use who'd seen her perform before, it wasn't that much of a surprise.

  6. #6
    Crazy Armchair Fan/Resident Nerd
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    I hate to say it again: it's the flutz issue. A lot of people feel that Sarah never got the issue of flutzing her jumps worked out and so many people felt the OGM was too hastily awarded. I'm not a real big fan of Sarah's skating, but I thought that, under the circumstances of the ladies event at SLC, that she deserved the gold medal. I think also that when she tried to come back after the Olympics, there was a lot of pressure for her to consistently skate like she did at the Olympics. The two programmes she did skate were not up to that calibre (La Bayadere was awful, IMO) and so a lot of people felt let down, that she had more that she could do in skating and more that she could grow that she didn't take advantage of, though I would say taking advantage of being accepted early action to Yale more than made up for it.

  7. #7
    Mr. Michelle Kwan Spirit's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Mathman
    I have had just the opposite impression. That is, it seems to me that Sarah is one of the least picked-on skaters, for all the reasons that you mentioned:
    I suspect -- but I don't know -- that this thread was started because Sarah was mentioned a lot in the "least favorite winning performances" thread.

  8. #8
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Thanks for your posts, Spirit. I love stuff inspiring like that. That's what makes figure skating what it is, the ability to touch the hearts of the fans.

    MM

  9. #9
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    Why is Sarah H so unpopular with so many?

    I don't see Sarah as unpopular. I agree with Mathman she is one of the least criticized skaters.

    For me, it all comes down to style. Sarah Hughes does not skate with the style that I prefer. She doesn't have the wonderful stretch, positions and stellar posture that I find most attractive. Sarah, like I said in another post, lacks pizzaz. I believe at her tender age, she didn't have time to mature and develop into an all-around great skater. Perhaps if she had remained eligibile or at least turned professional, that part of her skating may have developed.

    I feel Sarah Hughes is a great role model and appears to be a nice person. I have respect for her decision to attend Yale and even to end her skating career. At least it seems like she is ending it.

    I do not resent her for defeating Michelle Kwan. Personally, I would like to see others defeat Kwan as that is the only way to push figureskating forward. Sarah is a great Olympic Champ and deserved to win the gold medal.

    Is she the best woman figureskater? No, I don't think so. Does that make me anti-Sarah? Of course NOT!

    Dizzy

  10. #10
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    I don't think Sarah's popularity or lack of it has anything to do with Michelle, but more a function of Sarah's particular style. To me she was always a very inward skater. I personally found her skating to be accomplished, if not very exciting. However, on HER night in SLC she really was dynamic. I wish I could have seen more performances like that. Comparing her to Tara, Tara was more exciting perhaps, but not more polished. Tara always struck me as far too juniorish with her waving arms and squeals at landing jumps.

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    I agree with soogar, tharrtell said.

    I just don't like her skating style, before/after SLC. But I've always respected her achievement in school. As a person.

    That's why people love MK so much b/c she has a history and you see the highs and lows of her career. Todd is popular for that reason as well. Sarah was non-descript and not an exciting skater. She doesn't have that IT factor.
    For me it takes a lot to become a fan of a skater beside the winning. Although I've liked quite a few skaters' skating. It was not until 2003 season that I can say I truely became a fan of MK and her skating. And which soon become a fan in more general sense in FS, since then I took time to learn what type of jumps, edge qualities, etc.
    Last edited by mzheng; 03-18-2004 at 04:08 PM.

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    I agree with what most people have said here. I gretly respect Sarah; I think she got the best of both worlds by having experienced both the big-time sport, and an Ivy League college. Having said that, I was never her fan, because for me she just did not have the "it" factor. Her strength was her discipline and her consistency. I think that had everyone at the '02 Olympics skated their absolute best, Sarah would have been approx. 5th (give or take a couple of placements). Which does not mean that she stole anything from anyone -- both Irina and Michelle had sub-par uninspired skates, giving the medal to Sarah, who certainly skated her best.

  13. #13
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    I have always assumed that Sarah was unpopular for the same reason that Tara was unpopular: because she won the gold medal that many people wanted Michelle to win. But, based on people's posts here, I guess there are other reasons for her unpopularity.

    I personally lost a lot of respect for Sarah when she skipped Worlds after the Olympics. Yagudin competed . . . Michelle competed . . . why couldn't she? I don't know why this bothered me so much, but it did. It just seemed really lame. I had the same reaction when Tara and Ilia skipped Worlds after Nagano. And, much as I loved them, I was also really disappointed in Gordeeva&Grinkov for skipping Worlds after Lillehammer.

    The way I see it is: As a skater, you only get so many opportunities to make your mark--to earn your place in history. Why let go of an opportunity like that because you're feeling temporarily lazy and unmotivated? To me, winning Worlds is just as impressive and meaningful as winning the Olympics. (And these days, with qualifying rounds at Worlds, it's arguably harder.)

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    Comparing her to Tara, Tara was more exciting perhaps, but not more polished. Tara always struck me as far too juniorish with her waving arms and squeals at landing jumps.


    I'll respond to that. When you compare the Olympic performances of Tara and Sarah, Tara was the better of the two. Tara was exuberant and had a lot of energy and speed crossing the ice. Plus a lot of people dogged Tara about her artistry but I always thought Tara had a nice polished presence on the ice and off as well. Plus Sarah was a gawky teenager which took away a lot from her skating. She reminded me of the band camp girl from American Pie in her mannerisms and the way she carried herself (before you get on me, Alyson Hannigan who plays the character is really pretty) and I just couldn't warm up to her.

    Also I have a lot more respect for Tara b/c Tara was World Champion going into the Olympics and skated with Olympic pressure. No one expected anything of Sarah so there was no pressure to produce. Also the way she won was really unclimactic: everyone had a crappy skate so she wound up on the podium. Tara beat a clean Michelle program and skated under enormous pressure and media spotlight.

    The flutz issue is moot: Sasha and Tara both flutzed but it doesn't stop people from having a passionate reaction (positive or negative). Their skating grabs you by the throat and forces you to look at them. Sarah never had that star quality which was why she was lurking quietly in the spotlight when the media focused on Naomi Nari Nam and Sasha Cohen.
    Last edited by soogar; 03-18-2004 at 05:01 PM.

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    I remember some people saying that Sarah's 3/3 combos were cheated and that she was flutzer. Hunched shoulders was another criticism. I sometimes thought she did not have the grace or maturity to skate some of her choices. I found her exhibition piece to Bye Bye Blackbird cute but a really bad choice. No Fossi dancer she. But I found many her competive programs to be rather well skated. I wanted Kwan and [color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color][color=red]*[/color] to be above Sarah at SLC but they did not skate well. She skated well enough.

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