Eldredge, Russian couples lead after short program
Posted: Thursday July 30, 1998 02:20 AM
UNIONDALE, New York (AP) -- Todd Eldredge stood in the middle of the ice Wednesday night and let the applause pour down around him.
The former world champion put on a brilliant show of spins and jumps to lead the men's figure skating short program at the Goodwill Games and now the crowd was saluting his performance.
"The reaction from the crowd was fantastic," he said.
So was Eldredge, who put on a flawless performance but felt there was more that he could have done.
"Everybody can skate a little better," he said. "There were a couple of spins I could do better."
He gets another chance Friday in the long program with the Goodwill gold on the line. And once again, the competition comes from 1994 Olympic champion Alexei Urmanov, second to Eldredge after the short program.
Urmanov is coming back from a groin injury that forced him to miss the 1998 Olympics.
"It is not so big a difference from 1994," he said, "because again I am competing with Todd."
Two world championship couples from Russia moved in front in ice dancing and pairs.
Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze led after the short program in pairs, edging ahead of Olympic gold medalists Oksana Kazakova and Artur Dmitriev, and Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov were in front following the compulsory dance.
Eldredge, a five-time U.S. champion who was fourth in the Olympics and second in the world championships this year, got a standing ovation from the Nassau Coliseum crowd of 4,009 - about a quarter of capacity - as he finished his program with a dazzling combination spin in the middle of the ice. Skating to music from the Broadway show "Les Miserables," he was spectacular from start to finish.
All seven judges awarded him marks of 5.8 for the eight required elements. He also received 5.9s for presentation from the judges from France, England and the United States.
Trailing Eldredge were two Russian skaters, Urmanov and Evgeni Plushenko. Americans Michael Weiss and Timothy Goebel were fifth and sixth.
The short program counts for one-third of the total mark, with the remaining two-thirds coming from Friday's freestyle skate.
Skimming over the blue ice at the Coliseum, Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze were flawless, running through the eight required elements and smiling broadly when they were done. They skated to 'Scenes From Swan Lake' and received no mark below 5.7 from the panel of judges.
Kazakova and Dmitriev, who withdrew from the world championships because of food poisoning after winning the Olympics, were second, followed by the Chinese pair of Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo.
Kazakova was satisfied with what the Olympic champions had done.
"We were pleased with our performance because we had been on tour and are very tired," she said.
The American pair - 16-year-old Johnnie Stiegler and his 14-year-old sister Tiffany - received all 5.1s or lower, and their scores were booed by the crowd. They stood last.
"We did a good job for our ages," Johnnie Stiegler said. "We just need to get older and be patient."
The short program counts for one-third of the final mark in pairs, with Friday's freestyle completing the competition.
In the compulsory dance competition, Krylova and Ovsiannikov took the lead. Skating to the Golden Waltz, the Olympic silver medalists received two 5.9s for timing-expression, the highest marks awarded to any of the four couples.
"I'm very happy because it's 3 1/2 months after the world championships and we've only had a week to prepare for the compulsories," Ovsiannikov said.
Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh of Russia, silver medalists in the 1994 Goodwill Games, were second, followed by Elena Grushina and Rusian Goncharov of Ukraine, and Jessica Joseph and Charles Butler of the United States.
The American teen-agers, world junior champions, received four marks below 5.0, prompting boos from the crowd.
"We're a new team," Butler said. "This is our first year. We just moved up from the junior tour. We don't have a lot of experience."
The compulsory dance counts for 20 percent of the final score with Thursday's original dance counting for 30 percent and the free dance on Saturday making up the remaining 50 percent.
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