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Thread: What skaters have left the biggest legacy?

  1. #1
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    What skaters have left the biggest legacy?

    I am struggling to get into figure skating this year and I know that it is partly because many of my biggest favourites have retired or are taking a break. I have realised that I am a person who takes a while to warm to new skaters - Gilles and Poirier are a case in point; I really like them now but it took me a while to get into them (almost my only exceptions that I can think of were Oksana Baiul, Kurt Browning and Virtue and Moir). This made me start thinking about how much legacy was dependent on longevity. I have watched figure skating for years, but I don't think I have enough detailed knowledge about some of the most famous skaters to be able to answer. How many of the really remembered skaters, or the ones who changed their disciplines were around only a short time?

    I realise this is a bit of can of worms because some people will have different ideas of legacy e.g how much of a legacy did Tara Lipinski have? But I thought I might throw it out there for discussion

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    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    I would say that Sonja Henie had the biggest impact by far. She single-handedly changed skating from a man's sport to a women's sport, from somber gentlemen carving figures to show-girls cavorting in short skirts. After winning ten straight world championships and three Olympic gold medals, she then took figure skating to Hollywood. She became one of the highest-paid movie stars in the world and transformed skating from a Scandinavian and Alpine amateur hobby to the realm of main-stream spectator entertainment.

    Others also contributed to this revolution of course, but none to be compared to Henie's influence, IMHO.
    Last edited by Mathman; 11-26-2018 at 09:10 AM.

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    Tripping on the Podium
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    Lutz, Axel, and Salchow. We're still talking about them all of the time to this day.

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    Medalist koatcue's Avatar
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    Rittberger* in Russia also

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    “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good” Sam-Skwantch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zanadude View Post
    Lutz, Axel, and Salchow. We're still talking about them all of the time to this day.
    Don’t forget Zayak and Beillmann.

    Hopefully one day Lipnitskaya

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    "I took a chance to build a world of mine...." Ic3Rabbit's Avatar
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    Boitano and Rippon too if we’re talking about jumps, spins and popular variations.

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    I'd say Toller Cranston has had a huge impact on development of artistry in the men's side of skating and he was always avant garde in his approach to performing.

    Even though she doesn't have an Olympic gold, Michelle Kwan is absolutely iconic, and the epitome of incredible skating even, for those who don't closely watch the sport.

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    New quad, new drama GGFan's Avatar
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    This could be a fascinating thread if posters keep it historical instead of finding a way to hype their favorites.

    For ice dance I would add Irina Moiseeva & Andrei Minenkov. Although they never won an Olympic gold (Hi Michelle and Kurt) their artistry influenced the development of ice dance. Torvill and Dean openly acknowledged their influence on their groundbreaking programs of the 1980s.

    We once had a more experienced poster tell us a story about traveling over a day on a train to watch Minnie and Mo skate in their prime.

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    On the Ice asiacheetah's Avatar
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    I was going to say how do you define legacy? I guess I would define it as their overall accomplishments during competition days, their accomplishments after retirement from active competitions, the moves they pioneer and are still being performed, the style they bring that people still emulate, and their impact on the next generation (who says they were inspired to skate because of X skater).

    Obviously for that last question, the current generation of skaters are all too young to have influenced a current active skater.


    I'll go back to my old favorite, my queen Michelle Kwan. I haven't read enough interviews from active skaters, but I believe quite a few American ladies (particularly of Asian descent) were inspired to skate because of her. Same with Kristi Yamaguchi.


    Plushenko obviously had a big impact. There are still emulating his style (cough Yuzu cough).


    Daisuke has some influence on current skaters, notably Shoma.


    Brian Orser obviously has influence due to being a coach now.


    Also, Shen and Zhao had a huge influence on the Chinese Pairs dominance.


    That's all I can think for now.

    I think all of these skaters I listed were around long enough (a full quad or more) to gain the audience, fans, and influence. I think Yuzu, Yuna, Mao, Patrick Chan will all be cited as influences in future skaters (and some current).

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    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zanadude View Post
    Lutz, Axel, and Salchow. We're still talking about them all of the time to this day.
    Quote Originally Posted by koatcue View Post
    Rittberger* in Russia also
    Strangely, although these names have become part of the figure skating lexicon, I think that most skating fans would be hard-pressed if you asked them who Alois Lutz or Werner Rittberger was, or what is the last name of the once-famous speedskater named Axel.

    Edit: Or for that matter, the last name of the show skater "Charlotte."
    Last edited by Mathman; 11-26-2018 at 05:07 PM.

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    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asiacheetah View Post
    Brian Orser obviously has influence due to being a coach now.

    Also, Shen and Zhao had a huge influence on the Chinese Pairs dominance.
    Coaches absolutely should be included. Shen and Zhao were the culmination and crowning glory, but pioneering coach Yao Bin was the genius behind the spotlight. He "learned" how to skate by looking at still pictures of pairs skaters and he entered the 1980 World Championship (with partner Luan Bo), where he finished last. "We'll see about that!" said he -- and the rest is history.

    Another coach that deserves top billing is Gustave Lussi. Together with his most famous student, Dick Button, he invented the "back spin in the air" method of jumping which allowed skaters to do astonishing feats like double Axels and triple jumps. This forever changed free skating from a gliding sport to a jumping sport.

    He is also credited with inventing the flip jump, and, according to Wikipedia:

    Lussi introduced checking the jump landings instead of turning a three after landing, a program as composition with a beginning and ending instead of the official just banging a gong to signal the end of the allotted time to perform, closing the figures on the backward pushes which until that time were left open, the original design for the Pattern 99 blade, the flying sit spin, the flying camel or Button Camel spin with Dick Button, the crossed-leg rotation position in jumping and spinning, the double Axel jump, the triple jumps, the delayed Axel and delayed-rotation double and triple jumps.
    Without Lussi we would still be banging gongs.

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    Great topic! For pairs I would add Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov: two-time Olympic gold medalists, beginning the extraordinary run of pairs OGM for the USSR/Russia, inventors of three of the four possible death spirals, pioneers of the lyrical balletic style that characterized so much great pairs skating for so long. (Not saying that theirs was the best or the only great style, just one enormously pleasing and influential style!)

    Googling to make sure I was spelling her name right, I came across comments from Dick Button and Toller Cranston praising the Protopopovs for their greatness and impact on the development of pairs skating. So, as LeVar Burton would say, you don't have to take my word for it!

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    Ice Is Slippery - Alexie Yagudin Dee4707's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rugbyfan View Post
    I am struggling to get into figure skating this year and I know that it is partly because many of my biggest favourites have retired or are taking a break.
    Boy, do I know what you mean, I'm still back in 2002-2006 skating time, loved that time frame. I found favorites currently(2018) two disciplines; pairs (Sui & Han) and dance (Papadakis/Cizeron).

    Legacy wise, the one person I thought of immediately is Michele Kwan and all those who had jumps & spins named after them.

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    Katarina Witt!! Such a long and successful career including 2 OGM'S. Being from Germany, she was a huge star and though I was in the US by the time she became famous, she always had a special place in my heart.

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    If we're listing people who had elements named after them, let's not forget Ina Bauer.

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    Medalist DSQ's Avatar
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    Maybe John Curry? He really moved the sport forward artistically for male skaters. He recently had a documentary made about him called The Ice King.

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    New quad, new drama GGFan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DSQ View Post
    Maybe John Curry? He really moved the sport forward artistically for male skaters. He recently had a documentary made about him called The Ice King.
    I so want this to be true since John is my all time favorites but is it? I hope so.

    As some have noted the word influential is tricky. Janet Lynn and John Curry were two of the most beautiful skaters who were committed to their art, but did they really influence other skaters? I know they must have but it almost feels like they were so superb and unique that no one really tried to emulate them (I know I'm generalizing big time here).

    I would put Dick Button on the list as someone who pushed the technical boundaries and really made figure skating more athletic. Hilarious that he was the jumper given his years of critiquing laybacks.

    ETA: I reread OP and it says legacy. Fascinating that I read in the word influential. Yes, I would definitely say that Janet and John left a very rich legacy of artistry. YouTube has only helped to amplify this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GGFan View Post
    I so want this to be true since John is my all time favorites but is it? I hope so.

    As some have noted the word influential is tricky. Janet Lynn and John Curry were two of the most beautiful skaters who were committed to their art, but did they really influence other skaters? I know they must have but it almost feels like they were so superb and unique that no one really tried to emulate them (I know I'm generalizing big time here).
    I don't know how many skaters have specifically tried to model themselves after Curry in all ways.

    I know of several skaters who credited his influence as inspiration for choosing to skate to Don Quixote (my least favorite warhorse ) and balletic or edge-based artistry. Most prominent being Mark Mitchell in 1993.

    Also, his professional companies and training methods laid the foundations for professional ice theatre (e.g., Ice Theatre of NY, Next Ice Age), some of which influence has also permeated the development of competitive Theatre on Ice. Skaters who worked with him as pros and then went on to coach younger competitors continued his legacy even if the connection may have been at one remove.

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    "I took a chance to build a world of mine...." Ic3Rabbit's Avatar
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    Dick Button, Scott Hamilton, Robin Cousins, Paul Wylie, Kristi Yamaguchi.

  20. #20
    New quad, new drama GGFan's Avatar
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    I'm definitely not trying to shortchange the great spinners of the past (Krieg, Bielmann, Ruh etc) but when the IJS came about it felt like a lot of the skaters trying to get their levels were emulating Stephane Lambiel positions.

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