Bona Fide Member
Did Olympic gold change their lives?
Leading up to the Salt Lake City Olympics, Kristi Yamaguchi made the comment that whoever wins the gold medal, his or her life would be changed forever -- unless it was Michelle Kwan, who was "already as famous as it is possibly to be in figure skating."
Certainly, this was true in the past. In 1976 Dorothy Hamill said, I'll either win the gold and have a career with Ice Capades (she later bought the show), or get silver and go back to secretarial school. Skaters like Katarina Witt, Victor Petrenko, Oksana Baiul and Torville and Dean gained a lot of opportunities that might otherwise have been closed to them. Scott Hamilton and Kristi herself said that life just wouldn't have been the same without that medal in their pockets.
But I don't think that Sarah Hughes' life would have turned out much different in the long run if she had won silver or bronze at Salt Lake City. I don't think Tara's career would have changed much. With a silver instead of a gold she still would have had professional opportunities for endorsements and touring with SOI, etc.
What about Alexei Yagudin (an immensely popular performer with or without a medal), Sale and Pelletiere or Berezhnaya and Sikharudlidze? Did the Olympic gold medal "change the lives" of Anasinna and Peiserat?
it's different in N. America for N. American skaters than it is for European skaters... Katia Gordeeva mentioned several times in her book "My Sergei" that the N. American skaters get paid/offered more than teh other skaters. Because they are the ones that ultimately sell tickets to the common person...
Most definately I think Scott Hamilton, Dorothy Hamil, Brian Boitano, and Kristi Yamaguchi made skating more popular in America and therefore made it possible for more opportunities for skaters to skate... regardless of their medal's color
Sarah Hughes is a seperate story; she controlled the situation, instead of others deciding for her if she was worthy of this or that deal.
Anissina and Peizerat are actually an interesting case. Peizerat was dead set on going into business and quitting skating. I think it was "a little extra" that the Olympic gold gave that made him stay (as for Anissina, I always felt bad for her thinking that Peizerat would quit - she would have been in a foreign country without a profession).
Yagudin, Kulik, Tara -- well, I think their lives would have been different because I don't think they would have gone pro when they did had they gotten silver.
Lovin' the Kween ... Now and Forever
This is an interesting question Mathman. Even with Michelle's popularity and earning abilities before then, I would imagine a gold would have put her way over the top. Even without an OGM, she has had many opportunities usually afforded to Olympic champions only.
I would also guess that both pairs winners in SLC ultimately benefited by all the media coverage of their event. I would think they are all more popular now, than if it had been just one of them winning with no controversy.
I don't know about Tara ... now we hear that her hip was bothering her even then, so who knows if she would have been able to continue as an eligible skater. You're probaby right that she would have gone on to SOI anyway.
I doubt Sarah's life would have been any different. I think school was always what she wanted to do, win or lose in SLC. It might be that in later years we will see more of the effect of the OGM with her.
It's fun to think about, but I guess we'll never know for sure.
One thing is for certain. When you win the gold, you never have to worry about unemployment for the rest of your life. Even if you can't find any work with a traveling ice show of some sort, somewhere, there will always be a rink happy to have you on staff as a teacher/coach. For instance, out here at the Healthsouth Training Center, Irina Rodnina teaches classes about four days a week. Whether or not these same opportunities would be open to silver or bronze medalists as well, is subject to debate.
I think that the Olympic gold medal probably changes everyone's life in some sort of way-just some more than others-and some in more obvious ways.
Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi are the closest figure skating has to household names. I think it is their gold medals and the ability to 'connect' with the public.
Kurt Browning, Torvill & Dean, Katerina Witt, Katia Gordeeva and Oksana Bauil are exceptions to the rule of non-US firgure skaters not being very well known by the general public. Again it is not just the Olyympic Gold(Browning has never won one) but also a more of a "story" and "personality" reason.
Even skaters who are not household names-their lives still change by winning medals. They get invited to do major tours-where they can make a very nice living.
I think B/S and S/P's popularity has increased somewhat because of SLC. I think that if there was no second gold-B&S would not be very well known by the casual skating fan.
Anissina & Peizerat are popular in France-having done game shows, charity fashion shows and more.
In Russia, Evgeni Plushenko, B/S and Lobacheva & Averbukh are 'household' names over there. However-besides B/S none of them have won an Olympic Gold-so again I think it is something more than just winning the OLYGM