I watched my videotapes from the 1998 and 2002 Olympics. Michelle's triple flip from Nagano was landed a bit roughly, but otherwise, she skated a clean long program. She looked a little tight and tentative, but she landed all of her triples, and her choreography was beautiful. Tara Lipinski was no match to Michelle, artistically, but she (Tara) landed a great triple loop/triple loop combination, and she finished her program with another triple combination. She won on the basis of higher technical content.
Originally Posted by Vash01
HOWEVER, I agree with Vash01 that had Michelle skated after Tara at Nagano, the result might have been different. The judges might still have awarded Michelle 5.8s instead of those 5.7s for technical, and, perhaps she would have received a solid string of 5.9s for presentation. Lipinski had greatly improved her artistry, but she was an ingenue, compared to Kwan.
Salt Lake was another story. Michelle fell on her triple flip, and that pretty much sealed her fate. Had she landed a triple toe/triple toe, perhaps she would have managed to finish second in the long program, ahead of Slutskaya, and that would have won Michelle the gold medal. On the other hand, Michelle skated before Slutskaya, so the judges were probably saving marks to award to Irina.
Remember that three of the judges gave Slutskaya 5.9s for technical? How in blazes did that happen? Irina landed her triple flip way forward, she made several other mistakes, and she did not land a triple/triple. Biased judging!