|Irina Slutskaya at the European Championships in 2001|
One of my all-time favorite figure skaters is Irina Slutskaya.
Slutskaya was the best athlete of her generation of skaters, constantly pushing the limit of athleticism versus "artistry". Although her career was certainly a success, she was ahead of her time in that judges were looking for "grace, elegance, and performance" rather than awesome jumps and physical daring. Therefore, she was generally overshadowed by the undeniably poised Michelle Kwan, costing her a few gold medals over the years.
When Slutskaya developed vasculitis, I was bummed that such a great and distinctive skater was effectively retired, or so I thought. Her swift recovery and return to the ice, better than ever, amazed me. Although an Olympic Gold would have perfectly capped a legacy of excellence, her spirit and competitive energy were inspirations enough.
|Irina Slutsakaya at the European Championships in 2005|
Therefore, I'd like to wish Irina Slutskaya a Happy 33rd Birthday!
Let's look at some vids:
1996 European Long Program
2002 World Championship Free Skate
2005 Cup of Russia Long Program