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Irina Slutskaya vs. Michelle Kwan

Updated on October 15, 2014

Irina Slutskaya: a power skater in the 90s

Irina Slutkaya is one of the leading power skaters in the 90s.

As you can guess from the term, Slutskaya's skating is characterized by her speed and power. Though Slutskaya looks pretty rough in her executional skills in today's standards, power skaters typically have superior edge control.

Of course, the risk power skaters are taking is higher than others. But reward can be greater too if they succeeded in executing elements.

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

She is a two-time World champion, and won silver in 2002 and bronze in 2006 Olympics. She is also a seven-time European champion in 1996 through 2006, and a four time Grand Prix Final champion and a four time Russian champion.

Irina Slutskaya in 2002

Assuming the program above is similar to todays' skaters

How do you grade Slutskaya's free?

See results

Slutskaya without edge

The competition pool in Kwan's tenure was very strong and competitive. Slutskaya with power and speed is good enough to compete with Kwan.

Both Scott and Sandra point at Slutskaya's lack of speed and power, however; they are not necessarily nitpicking at her because she is competing American girls.

Slutskaya's merits lie in her power and speed. Back then, quality wasn't established yet, but even then, her performances come short of her average.

Basically Slutskaya's jump quality is low in general to her contemporary standards. Compared to Kwan, Slutskaya is superior to Kwan in speed and power while Kwan is to Slutskaya in skill and polishing.

What lacks in her skating is detail; Her jumps are mostly -3 to -1. Other elements are not impressive either.

Michelle Kwan in 2002


Hughes' deficiency vs. present Russian skaters'

As you hear from Scott and Sandra, it’s 6.0 math even back then. Under the 6.0, its own logistics, though too simple to call it math, worked pretty accurate in retrospect. They are virtually tied, as Scott constantly said it's become a balancing game.

Hughes, Kwan and Slutskaya have not only under 6.0 perspectives, but also under COP, equal chances for the win.

That stems from a fact that they are all close in skating level. In other words, though Hughes is the least competent skater among the lot, she isn't too far away from Kwan and Slutskaya.

Honestly I still have a bit of discomfort about Hughes’ win. The more I muse over Hughes' deficiency in overall skating and skills, the more doubts I find in me. I keep asking myself, Is Hughes worthy?

Obviously Sandra thinks so while Scott isn’t quite sure.

You may tell me “Hey, Jesse, you said that Hughes’ winning has reasons, and Hughes has won.”

Indeed, I did and still I do, but in figure skating the level of skating is also very important. I can’t say with confidence that Hughes’ skating was good enough to overcome the hurdle.

Nevertheless, it is fair to say that Kwan or Slutskaya didn’t win. So I think the kind of psyche that makes me feel uncomfortable about Hughes’ win is more like fear of random success without verifiable skating assets, especially marred by glaringly flawed moves.

The key was how deficient Hughes was as opposed to how both Kwan and Slutskaya’s skating were drastically compromised in that event.

But in retrospect, Hughes’ deficiency compared to Kwan and Slutskaya is almost nothing compared to the current Russian skaters, such as Lipnisitskaia or Sotnikova or other Russian skaters the ISU promotes for that matter.

If Kwan and Slutskaya, as leads of competition, are hypothetically assigned to 9.0 in PCS, Hughes may be placed 8.0 by default, Sontnikova, 6.0 and Lipnnitskaia 5.0 or even lower.

Irina Slutskaya in 2002

Slutskaya: solid in speed, power and edge

Slutskaya's skating is powerful and fast. They are her advantages. Her weakness is polishing and skillfulness compared to Kwan.

There is no doubt Kwan is the best among the lot in skills. Slustkaya's skating actually fails to evoke aesthetics due to her lack of polishing.

Slutskaya, though still fast and powerful, didn't maximize her advantages in this competition. Likewise Kwan too didn't max out her assets when she needs them most.

However, Slustkaya's skating is very satisfying in many aspects. Her good jump height, and edge control and speed are good enough to threaten Kwan's lackluster skating.

Assuming Slutskaya's layout is similar to today's skaters

How do you grade Slutskaya's short?

See results

Michelle Kwan in 2002

I stand by the result.

I think 2002 Olympics was a cut-throat competition. Anyone in the last group could be the winner.

If Kwan had shaken off the pressure and skated as she did normally, the competition could have been one sided, but unfortunately Kwan kind of chickened out.

Slutskaya also didn't perform well. The two most competent skaters balked, but Hughes, a dark horse, skated to her best.

There are a few things that were factual about the 2002 Olympics.

The three contenders were virtually tied in their deficiency. And it was a fair possibility for any of them to win. However, after applying today's standards into the competition, my final verdict favors the original result.

The result stands.


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