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1996 worlds: Michelle Kwan, Chen Lu, and Irina Slutskaya

Updated on February 12, 2015

Michelle Kwan in 1996

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Michelle Kwan and Irina Slutskaya share many things.

Though two athletes are from different countries, both were on record one of the most dominant forces in ladies figure skating.

Kwan was famous for her longevity, and Slutskaya was no less than Kwan particularly for that matter. Especially Slutskaya's skating career went over a decade, from 1995 to 2005.

Here in free program, Kwan performed brilliantly. I guess the judges weighed more in maturity and musical interpretation when they marked for Kwan.

But except Slutskaya's young age and her less-than-perfect program management, Slutskaya's skating skating was mature, accurate and its flow was well balanced; nothing in her skating showed any sign of juniorism.

And in Kwan's skating, jump height was always a problem.

In today's standard, if the game was set between Kwan and Slutskaya, it was Slutskaya's day rather than Kwan's. I am especially impressed by Slutskaya's skating asset.

Slutskaya at 16 had everything she needed to be a champion; her skating could even beat Katarina Witt in 1980s.

Michelle Kwan in 1996

I admire the US judge who gave Kwan the lowest score among the judging panel.

In short program Kwan did a good performance. But it wasn't a kick-ass performance.

I totally agree to the U.S. judge who gave Kwan 5.6 for technical mark and 5.8 for presentation. If I were a judge at that time, I would mark the same.

In the 1996 Worlds the U.S. judge was a symbol of integrity.

Chen Lu in 1996

I won't lie to you.

I know many of you may disagree or may feel hurt, but I don't think Kwan's win in the 1996 Worlds quite justified.

Simply Chen Lu and Irina Slutskaya were too good skaters to get beat even by Kwan's impressive performances.

I think this is another version of Katarina Witt's story.

Remember how Witt ruled despite the strong opposition from many of her rivals whose skating were actually greater than hers. In Witt's time, Witt's presentation ability, well I should say pretentious or hoodwinking, helped her get away with her rough skating.

I think here again Kwan got away with her presentation that could not have worked today's standards. Kwan's physiological handicap certainly won't give her an edge over her competitors.

The judges got carried away with Kwan's so called presentation.

Chen Lu in 1996

Chen Lu was a complete skater.

Lu was also much more expressive than Kwan, very conscious of aesthetics.

Of course Kwan too was a remarkably expressive skater; however, Kwan's presentation ability was often seen less natural, impeded by her physiological disadvantages.

What makes Lu's skating outstanding was that her expressiveness permeates through her skating elements. That is, she presents musicality more indirectly than Kwan does.

And here the quality of Lu's elements are surely superior to that of Kwan's.

The correct score will be :

Michelle Kwan: 5.6T, 5.8P

Chen Lu: 5.7T, 5.9P

Irina Slutskaya: 5.8T, 5.7P

Irina Slutskaya in 1996

Irina Slutskaya, born in 1979, is perhaps the most famous Russian ladies figure skater ever.

Slutskaya is a two-time World champion, a two-time Olympic medalist (silver in 2002, bronze in 2006), a seven-time European champion, a four-time Grand Prix Final champion.

Slutskaya was known for her double Biellmann spin and was the first female skater to land a triple luts/triple loop combo jump.

On record she was the most dominant European figure skater ever, having won the European Championships title seven times in total.

Irina Slutskaya in 1996

In this competition three contenders were brilliant and the differences among three were marginal. Though the judging wasn't the product of any kind of fraud or conspiracy, it wasn't correct.

Chen Lu should have won the game or Irina Slutkaya could have won.

Who do you think is the winner of the 1996 Worlds?

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