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Great Skaters: Michelle Kwan and Katarina Witt

Updated on August 9, 2014

Michelle Kwan: The Last Queen of 6.0 System

Michelle Kwan is a skater who represents the golden age of U.S. figure skating as well as 6.0 system. Kwan's achievement is simply unprecedented.

Kwan was an unchallenged ruler in the 1990s through 2000s and her dominant reign was practically the longest of all except Sonja Henie.

Although Kwan failed to win an Olympic gold, her achievement was in fact comparable to Katrina Witt's two time Olympic gold or even surpassed.

Moreover, Kwan wasn't defeated by Tara Lipinsky in her final Olympic gold quest.

The judging wasn't particularly foul; only judges' psychological resistance to Kwan's decade stretched dominance had been exploited by Lipinsky's daring play.

Now, meet one of a kind skater at her 15.


Michelle Kwan in 1996

Michelle Kwan

Do you see anything juniorish in Kwan's skating? It was done at her 15.

Before Michelle Kwan emerged as a figure head of U.S. ladies figure skating, the world of figure skating was rapidly changing.

The popularity of figure skating reached a new height thanks to TV coverage. The rules that once strictly kept skaters in amateur status changed to allow professional skaters to return to competitive field. More importantly financial success for winner through endorsement grew exponentially and allurement from professional opportunities was as strong as ever.

Inevitably some people began to see the sport as a means of investment, and winning by all means became the part of their psyche.

In 1994, Tanya Harding was found involved in the attack of her rival Nancy Kerrigan. This was the most notorious scandal ever in the figure skating history.

It was after this meltdown that Michelle Kwan emerged.

Michelle Kwan was the most dominant female skater in the U.S. ladies figure skating history, and the most accomplished skater in the world in 1990s through 2000s.

Kwan's tenure stretched a decade. During the time, Kwan won five World titles and nine U.S. Championships titles. Ironically Kwan failed to win an Olympic gold despite her unprecedented success.

Kwan was known for her stability and consistency and artistic expressiveness as well as technical versality.

Especially, in the 1998 U.S. Championships , Kwan, despite barely recovered from injuries, skated to Rachmaninoff's piano piece, which would be recalled as one of the greatest performances by many. Kwan received seven 6.0s on the short program and eight 6.0s on the free program.

In the 1998 Olympics, Kwan's second Olympic gold quest was crushed by her rival Tara Lipinski. The result was not completely free from controversy. In today's perspective, Lipinski's jumps were too poor to be fully credited while her expressiveness perhaps edged Kwan out.

It is no coincidence that Kwan was a role model for Yuna Kim.


Michelle Kwan in 2004

What do you think is the greatest asset of Kwan's skating?

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Katarina Witt: The Queen in 1980s

After the introduction of short program, ladies figure skating was looking for a new star who could point a direction for the future.

While still the remnant of compulsories at heel, skaters tried various experiments in order to mold the ideal for their generation.

Those attempts were divided into two different trends: one was acrobatic figure skating, the other was artistic performers.

Into the 1980s, skaters began to unleash triples, and there was a skater who defended the old artistic fortress single-handedly against the unassailable jumping wave.

Her name was Katarina Witt.

Born in East Germany, Witt was a skater of two time Olympic gold. It was highest achievement anybody could ever reach since Sonja Henie's three time Olympic gold.




Katarina Witt in 1986

The young Witt in 1980

Katarina Witt: a skater who knew how to beat her foes

Take a look at her way of skating.Though her jump technique seems to be desired, the young Witt skates solidly.

Especially in her upper body move, you can see a glimpse of someone in those powerful, fast yet a bit laborious connections.

By now you may guess what I am trying to say, right? Does she remind you of someone?

Yep! it's Gracie Gold there.

Of course, Witt is far superior to Gold even in one-to-one comparison. Don't forget Witt was a skater thirty years ago. But I am hoping Gold ascend to the level of Witt someday.

They look alike stylistically.

Witt was the biggest star in the 1980s. Witt was also super competitive, always ahead of her peers in artistic presentation, leaving her unprepared competitors in the ruin.

What is the most impressing elements in Witt's skating?

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