What next? What
would possibly happen next to Scott Davis at the U.S. Figure Skating
Championships in Phoenix? He had already endured the worst possible draw in
last Friday's short technical program—going first out of 19 skaters—a draw so
lousy that his first thought, a tad over-dramatic, was, My life is over. He
survived and skated flawlessly.
Then his pants
were stolen, lifted right out of his bag in the skaters' dressing room at
America West Arena. So when Davis, a shy Montana native, was asked if he had
seen the performance of Mark Mitchell, the only man ahead of him after the
short program, he blushed and admitted that he hadn't. "I was sitting
around in my underwear, wondering where my pants were," said Davis. He
never did find the darn things. He finally made it back to the hotel, after
another skater lent him a pair of trousers.
So what could
happen next? Would Davis's skating outfit simply come apart, as poor Tonya
Harding Gillooly's did during the women's technical program on Friday evening?
(She was granted a re-skate.) Would he sprawl and splay and bounce repetitively
off his bottom, as the women would in unprecedented numbers during the
Saturday-night massacre that was passed off to ABC-TV viewers as a free-skating
program? Almost any scenario would, in Davis's mind, have been more likely than
what came to pass last Saturday.
Davis, who had
assumed he would be skiing in March instead of competing at the world
championships in Prague (the top two men would qualify for the worlds), had his
vacation plans torpedoed when he won his first senior national championship,
thanks to a dynamic free-skating performance that brought 7,803 people out of
their seats even before he had completed his final spin. His first thought,
which was not overly dramatic, was, My life is just beginning.
The title moved
the 21-year-old Davis closer to fulfilling his dream of skating in the
Olympics, a dream he had nurtured since he was nine and had his picture taken
with 1984 Olympic champion Scott Hamilton. After winding up eighth at the
nationals in 1991 and fourth in '92, Davis hoped to finish third in Phoenix,
behind Mitchell and two-time U.S. champion Todd Eldredge. But when Eldredge
performed a long program that his coach, Richard Callaghan, accurately termed
"totally lifeless," Davis came to the fore. Skating to music from West
Side Story, Davis landed seven perfect triples, including a triple Lutz, triple
toe combination that so excited his mother, Wallie Jean, that she broke her
camera when she bounded out of her seat.
Mitchell, who was
third at the nationals last year, was the last man to skate on Saturday. When,
in the opening seconds of his program, he fell while attempting a triple Axel,
it became apparent that Davis would prevail and that Mitchell would have to
settle for second.
performance, the men's competition looked as if it would be overshadowed by the
presence in the stands of 1988 Olympic gold medalist and four-time national
champ Brian Boitano, who is "95 percent sure" that he will seek
reinstatement as an amateur in time to try to qualify for the 1994 Olympics in
Lillehammer. Under new rules, professional skaters who wish to compete in the
Olympics must seek reinstatement with their own country's governing body before
applying to the International Skating Union to be reinstated as amateurs. Which
means Lillehammer could have several intriguing battles among former Olympic
champions. The 1992 men's gold medalist, Viktor Petrenko, a Ukrainian, has also
expressed interest in being reinstated. So has Katarina Witt, the 1984 and '88
women's Olympic champion. Kristi Yamaguchi, the '92 women's gold medalist, is
reported to be weighing her options. This should be great for the sport,
It has certainly
been great for the groaners. "I can't understand why it's so difficult for
these kids to have the guts to get on with the rest of their lives," said
Ronna Gladstone, Mitchell's coach, when asked about Boitano's potential
think it was fair when the professional tennis players came into the Olympics
in '88, when the pro basketball players came in in '92, and that's the way I
feel about the skaters," Mitchell kept saying last week. "They've had
their turn, and I think it's time for them to move on."
I see. Now we're
taking turns to compete in the Olympics. Pardon me, Brian, but I'm next in
line. Nothing like rising to a challenge.