In honor of the debates that we have going on about the importance of high powered technical elements versus beautiful presentation, and how the CoP fits into the equation, here is a three-part homage to the ladies who have pushed the technical envelope and established the gold standard for ladies figure skating in the post-figures era.
The triple Axel club
Midori Ito. Remains the greatest jumper in the history of ladies figure skating. Beloved the world over for her charm and modesty.
Live by the triple Axel, die by the triple Axel. When Ito fell on her first triple Axel attempt at the 1992 Olympics, this opened the door for Kristi Yamaguchi to win the free program. Ito reportedly felt "ashamed" that she had let her country down. She remains a popular icon of the sport, but did not skate outside of Japan much as a pro.
Tonya Harding. Best U.S. jumper, the height and power of her jumps have never been matched by a U.S. lady. Unfortunately, by the 1994 Olympics she was past her prime ... plus, of course ...
Tonya made a series of terrible life decisions off the ice, the worst being her choice of men. The attack on Nancy Kerrigan and its attendant publicity made millions for everyone else in the sport, but Tonya never saw a dime of it.
OT -- Tonya's skating career was sponsored in part by George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees.
Yukari Nakano and Ludmilla Nelidina. I was lucky enough to be in the audience at Skate America when both of these ladies hit triple Axels, one after the other. The first triple Axels in a decade.
But it was kind of an anticlimax. Neither of the jumps was of excellent quality (I couldn't tell if the rotations were cheated on not), and the programs were otherwise unmemorable. Nakano never achieved top ranking in Japan, and Nelidina found that she could not handle the pressures of competing on the world stage and retired.
Mao Asada So far so good for this prodigy. How about that super 3A she landed in the LP at junior worlds! So far, she looks like the complete package, with presentation skills quite mature for her age. Go Mao!
Kimmie Meissner Was it underrotated? How would it have been evaluated under the new judging system? If the tech specialist had downgraded it to a double, with a minus 1.0 or minus 2.0 GOE for the landing, she might have received as little as 1.9 points for it.
Under 6.0 judging, it got her the U.S. senior ladies bronze medal. Go Kimmie!