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The Best Skaters: 1990s

Updated on February 13, 2015

1.Oksana Baiul: skater who defined the 1990s

Oksana Baiul is a Ukrainian figure skater who won the 1993 Worlds title and the 1994 Olympic gold medal.

Baiul is the only skater who won gold at the Winter Olympics representing Ukraine.

Oksana Baiul was a skater of extraordinary talent. If the 80s had Denise Biellmann, the 90s had Oksana Baiul.

Sadly Baiul retired too early before her skating grew to its full potential.


2. Chen Lu: the most artistic skater in the 90s

Chen Lu, born in 1976, is a Chinese figure skater who won Olympic bronze medal in 1994 and in 1998.

Chen Lu was also the 1995 Worlds champion. Chen Lu won the first ever Olympic medal in figure skating for China.

Chen Lu was a rare complete skater from the 90s. If the 80s had Liza Mary-Allen, the 90s had Chen Lu.

Not only conscious of aesthetics in her skating, but technically proficient, Chen Lu was a skater who defined artistry of the 1990s.

3. Irina Slutskaya: Katarina Witt of 90s

Irina Slutskaya was famous for her rivalry with Michelle Kwan.

Although on record, Slutskaya was overshadowed by Michelle Kwan, Slutskaya was perhaps the most victimized skater of 1990s by judging bias or its inaccuracy at the time.

As a matter of fact, Slutskaya was a qualitatively a bit better skater than Kwan or Lipinski, but she was not necessarily more skillful than they were nevertheless.

If Kwan and Lipinski found their way of getting around by optimizing their skating, Slutskaya faced down the technical challenges, that is, her skating was straightforward and honest.

Therefore, each quality of Lipinski's skating elements is superior to that of her two rivals. In today's standards, Irina Slutskaya is more likely to win over Kwan and Linpinski when they are all clean.

4. Michelle Kwan: the biggest champion of 90s

Michelle Kwan was the biggest name in the 1990s.

Kwan's unprecedentedly long reign contributed to the rising popularity of figure skating in U.S.

Ironically though, Kwan too, like Katarina Witt, faced strong opposition from her rivals whose skating often beat hers.

There is a stark contrast between Katarina Witt and Michelle Kwan:

Kwan's skating, unlike Witt's skating that was powerful but unpolished, was characterized by skillfulness. While Witt flaunted with big jumps, Kwan's jumps were in scale barely acceptable. Above all, Witt succeeded in winning two Olympic gold luckily with very small margins; Kwan failed twice unluckily in upset defeat.

5. Tara Lipinski: pure talent of 90s

Like Kwan, Tara Lipinsky was also a skater whose skating was not completely free from physiological impediment.

Although Lipinski was lionized by her contemporary for her incredible talent and maturity, strictly speaking, her jumps are not fully credited or ratified in today's standards.

Lipinski's skating is, however, an example that shows how a skater, either junior or senior, should skate. Especially those Russian skaters today need to learn from her.

6. Yuka Sato: the most underrated champion of 90s

Yuka Sato was a Midori Ito type skater, perhaps the most underrated figure skater of 1990s.

Sato was a power skater like Ito, but her skating was balanced and more definitive than Ito's skating.

Unfortunately Sato's reign was very short.

7. Kristi Yamaguchi: balanced skater

Kristi Yamaguchi was never a strong figure skater.

Like her modest persona, her skating was characterized by balanced management. While her competitors sought for huge jumps to tilt the balance of competition, Kristi Yamaguchi focused on minimizing errors.

And she was more than successful in the end, as her skating level was adequately competitive and well rounded.

8. Nancy Kerrigan: skater who could have been Katarina Witt of 90s

Nancy Kerrigan was a skater whose skating style closely resembled Katarina Witt's.

Kerrigan was a muscular and power depended skater, but unlike Witt, she lacked of agility. However, alongside of Kristi Yamaguchi and Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan contributed to the ongoing reign of U.S. ladies figure skating.

9. Tonya Harding: talented desperado

Tonya Harding was a typical power skater.

But her ambition to top the world crashed with her scandalous involvement in attack on Nancy Kerrigan.

Compared to Katarina Witt in the 80s, Harding was indeed a skater of more definitive line. But it appears that as soon as she earned spot lights, she failed to keep up with her training.

And most importantly, the scandal sealed her fate as a figure skater too soon.

10. Maria Butyrskaya: skater who beat Michelle Kwan

Maria Butyrskaya is a Russian skater whose career spans over ten years.

Butyrskaya won the 1999 Worlds, and she was a three time European champion, and she was also the first Russian to win the World ladies title, and also the oldest skater to win the European ladies' title at age 29 in 2002.

After Butyrskaya had been long overshadowed by international big shots for all her career, she finally took gold in the 1999 Worlds beating the great Michelle Kwan.

Who do you think is the best of all from the 1990s?

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