Eldredge withdraws; Li wins Four Continents skating
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Forget next week's Grand Prix finals. Todd Eldredge is keeping his fingers crossed about next month's World Figure Skating Championships after jamming an ankle at Four Continents.
Eldredge led after the short program, but landed awkwardly on his left ankle during practice Friday. He tried physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medicine, but withdrew after warming up for the evening free skate.
"I never had a chance to give it enough rest to get better," said Eldredge, the 1996 world champion. "It's a new injury, same ankle that I've hurt before, but a completely different injury."
That opened the door for Li Chengjiang of China, who hit a quadruple jump during a demanding program and went on to win. Takeshi Honda of Japan was second and American Michael Weiss placed third.
Eldredge came to Four Continents against the advice of his coach, Richard Callaghan, who wanted him to use the Grand Prix to prepare for worlds, scheduled for March 18-25 in Vancouver.
But Eldredge felt it was important to honor his earlier commitment, especially after being invited to participate in a midweek ceremony where Olympic organizers marked the one-year-out date for the Salt Lake Games.
Now, it's unlikely he can compete next weekend in Tokyo.
"More than likely, I'm going to say the Grand Prix is out," Eldredge said. "I'm going to get home."
He planned to have tests Saturday before leaving Salt Lake City to determine the extent of the injury.
"The biggest thing right now for me is the world championships, so we'll get home, get healthy and hopefully get ready for worlds. Canada's always been great, so hopefully it will be again."
Eldredge won his only world title in 1996 in Edmonton.
Li, who finished second at last year's Four Continents behind three-time world champion Elvis Stojko of Canada, capitalized on Eldredge's misfortune by hitting a quadruple salchow, one of many jumps where he had outstanding height.
"I felt so relieved at the end," the two-time Chinese national champion said. "My practices have been going well this year, but then I couldn't do it (quad) in competition."
American Matthew Savoie placed fourth.
Weiss skated first in the final group and started by double-footing his quad and, seconds later, a combination. He was shaky landing a triple flip and a triple toe loop, but broke into a smile after performing.
"It was just kind of typical of the way things have gone for me this year," said Weiss, who missed two months this season with toe and back injuries. "I had to fight. It was all guts."