Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Great Rivalry

Kristi Yamaguchi could give Kimmie Meissner useful advice about handling criticism from the press. The press moved Yamaguchi to focus solely on singles, much the same way they have pushed Meissner to make a coaching change.

The press had a field day when Yamaguchi lost two competitions during the fall of 1991. Both Tonya Harding and Midori Ito beat Yamaguchi with performances that included strong Triple Axels. The two losses only causes Yamaguchi to work even harder, leading her to the top step on the Olympic podium.

Shortly after splitting with Rudy Galindo, Yamaguchi scored a big win over Ito at the 1990 Skate America International. (She even lands a Triple Salchow!)

Ito couldn't match Yamaguchi's balanced program.

The 1991 Nationals were supposed to catapult Kristi Yamaguchi into the 1991 Worlds as the reigning US Champion. Yamaguchi lost the event 7-2 after Harding (who skated to Batman) landed a Triple Axel.

Tonya's shining moment:

The Triple Axel wasn't enough for Tonya to win the 1991 Worlds.

After having two throat surgeries leading up to the World Championships, Midori Ito's season was best characterized by her short program in Munich.

Ito's loss of confidence was obvious during her long program.

Yamaguchi's loss at Nationals fueled a fantastic performance in Munich.

Yamaguchi tried her best, but was unable to get a Triple Axel in time.

Ito made changes after Munich and was peaking for the 1992 Olympics.

Yamaguchi's Triple Salchow continued to plague her as she entered the final stretch.

Ito scored a critical victory in Paris. The press assumed the Olympics would be a showdown between Ito and Harding. Whoever landed the Triple Axel was supposed to win the Olympics.

Yamaguchi fought back at the 1992 US Nationals and finally won a title the senior ladies event.

Midori Ito seemed unstoppable when she first arrived at the Olympics.

Yamaguchi was a picture of consistency during her Olympic practice sessions. Practicing in Megeve helped her avoid the heat of the press. When she returned, it was apparent that there would be a showdown between the "athlete" and the "artist" for Olympic Gold.

The draw for the short program.

Under immense pressure, Ito's final practices rattled her nerves. Bonaly's controversial practice furthered Ito's downward spiral.

Disaster Strikes.

Harding actually landed her Triple Axel during the warm-up.

Harding took a risk and wound up two spots behind Ito.

The pressure was affecting the entire field on the night of the long program.

Yamaguchi nearly locked up the gold medal with this long program victory. It would've taken superb efforts from Ito and Harding to overcome her lead entering the long program.

Ito fought for her long program and turned her luck around. The last 90 seconds of her program created a frenzy.

It was all too overwhelming for Laetitia Hubert. A strong short program found her in the unexpected position of challenging for a medal in front of her home crowd. She would forever be coined "the human zamboni" by skating fans.

Ito was relieved for the competition to finally be over.

Kristi backed up her gold medal by winning the world championships. She is the last female Olympic Champion to defend her title at the following world championships.

Her winning ways continued as a professional. Yamaguchi was undefeated in 1992.

Ito would eventually rain on Yamaguchi's professional party.

Kristi did not like losing her world professional crown. She returned determined to regain her thrown.

It appeared that Ito would ruin Yamaguchi's party again.

Yamaguchi unleashed her newfound fierce sex appeal.

With a bevy of prize money available in the many pro competitions, Yamaguchi was well prepared for 1994-1995 and her earnings continue to increase three years after winning her Olympic title.

1 comment:

Brad said...

Why you gotta pick on Tonya?