March 21, 1996 in Sports

Elvis Falls From Grace Champion’s Tumble Shocks Skating World

Michelle Kaufman Detroit Free Press
 

Oh, poor Canada. Kurt was snubbed, the King is dead, and Canadian figure skating fans at the world championships are beside themselves.

A day after the International Skating Union banned hometown hero Kurt Browning from the opening ceremony because he’s a pro, twotime world champion Elvis Stojko stunned the sellout audience at Edmonton Coliseum Wednesday when he fell on his triple axel, plummeting to seventh place and out of medal contention after the short program.

More than 16,000 who had waved Canadian flags furiously during Stojko’s introduction stared in disbelief as his technical scores were posted: 5.1, 5.4, 5.2, 5.2, 5.1, 5.2, 5.4, 5.3, 5.3.

Russian teenager Ilia Kulik leads going into today’s long program. Todd Eldredge of the U.S. is in second, and 1994 Olympic champion Alexei Urmanov of Russia is third.

In fourth, very much in the medal hunt, is U.S. champion Rudy Galindo, who was such a non-factor coming into this season that he wasn’t listed in the U.S. media guide. Galindo landed everything Wednesday, and his elegant style pleased the judges. The San Jose, Calif., native even has an outside shot at the gold medal if he wins the long program.

Rudy ahead of Elvis?

In this new-and-improved world of figure skating, performances carry more weight than resumes. When Stojko fell, cynical reporters were convinced that the judges would find a way to prop him up, perhaps ahead of Galindo. They didn’t. Nor did they hesitate to put Olympic and 1995 world bronze medalist Philippe Candeloro 16th after his sloppy program.

“The results are different from what anyone expected,” said Richard Callaghan, Eldredge’s coach. “The skaters are being judged by the way they skated, and it’s nice that way.”

Russia’s Marina Eltsova and Andrey Bushkov made their first win of 1996 a big one, taking the pairs competition, with Americans Jenni Meno and Todd Sand rallying for a bronze medal.

Germany’s Mandy Wotzel and Ingo Steuer, leaders after the short program, took the silver for the second time in four years.


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