Friday, April 15, 2011

World's Greatest: Alexei Yagudin (RUS)

Alexei is considered one of the greatest skaters of all time. He's one of the few skaters that has 4 titles to his credit as well as an Olympic title. Plagued with injury through most of that time, he made it a full cycle before being taken out of competition by his knees. They just couldn't handle the stress and strain. He skated with Stars On Ice after his forced retirement from competition. Now he's still Mr. Celebrity in Russia and his the father of an adorable little kid.

Alexei got me hooked on men's competitive skating. Most of the time I waited until they were pros to make a determination on if I would like them, but Alexei did for competitive figure skating what Kurt Browning does for the pro world. He was able to seamlessly weave athletics with musicality/art. Skaters like Alexei are rare.

Alexei had the difficult hardware, but he was more known for his footwork. Many still claim it's the best ever, however if one takes a look at what he does it's not only simple in comparison with other skaters - it's pretty much the same step sequence over and over (and the same from program to program). Tarasova and Morosov found a formula that worked on their skater, and people blindly follow.

That does not diminish Alexei's mark on the sport, however. He is a fantastic showman and athlete. I truly believe we'd be hearing more out of him competitively but his injuries - and knee surgery - kept him out of the running. Still, four world titles and an Olympic title is nothing to sneeze at.

My favorite program of his at worlds - a year he didn't win - his SP to Revolutionary Etude:

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