In reviewing this thread, I realize I forgot to answer your question.
The guys have it easier; just use shoe polish. White skates do take a little more. Back then, the gals just used cheap liquid shoe polish with a sponge applicator. But these are better suggestions:
How can I clean my ice boots? +BQ? - Yahoo! Answers
How to Remove Scuff Marks From Figure Skates | eHow.com
I also like Yagudin, especially his head-to-head matchups with Evgeny Pleshenko around the beginning of the century. Pleshenko only got really good after Yagudin retired.
Kulic was the Men's Olympic champ in '96, just before Yagudin. His graceful 'easy' style and versatility is unmatched, imho. Yagudin skates macho, but like a cat in his balance and jumps. Pleshenko is a little too 'rock star' for my taste.
Any of these guys would skate circles around Evan Lysachek except for last year. I also like Johny Weir for his creativity and individuality.
I was so disappointed in Tanith and Ben; they missed their year. But the Canadian kids deserved it.
The Chinese still have a stranglehold on pairs, I guess.
I haven't followed the ladies closely since Sasha went pro (Stars on Ice) and Michelle retired. Really not much there, anymore. Of course the new points/judging system does little to foster creativity or originality in a routine.
Oh, and congratulations on taking your first step.