- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
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.
Before Davis's 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, right?
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 reinstatement.
"I didn't 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.