It’s almost sinful how easy Todd Eldredge can make even the most difficult routine look.
The world champion, seeking his fourth national title, hit everything in the short program Thursday night in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. It was almost a workmanlike performance, yet it was done at a level none of his competitors could challenge.
Eldredge, 25, of Chatham, Mass., was the only skater to do a triple-triple combination, nailing a smooth triple axel-triple toe loop. His footwork was masterful and his spins, particularly a segment of four different spins done in quick succession, were superb.
Not that it wasn’t expected. Eldredge has been in a groove since the fall of 1994.
He received all 5.8s and 5.9s for his work to “A Walk on the Wild Side.”
“I think he is skating with a lot more confidence. Getting that world title has made him seem much more confident,” coach Richard Callaghan said.
Also Thursday night, Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow avoided disaster after an early fall and won their fourth national title. They are only the third couple to win at least four U.S. crowns in ice dancing.
“The fourth title is significant for us,” Punsalan said.
Punsalan slipped about 40 seconds into the routine, but her husband never lost hold of her hand. He literally dragged her until she regained her feet.
Damon Allen, with the performance of his life, was second in the short program, worth one-third of the overall score. Allen, who missed most of last year with a stress fracture of his left shin, never has been higher than fourth in nationals and skated in only one significant event this year, placing third in the Vienna Cup.
But he didn’t miss a thing Thursday, and his triple axel-double toe was massive.
“It was a little bit difficult. The process of coming back was slow,” Allen said. “I did a lot of mental preparation to get ready to compete.”
Scott Davis, like Allen on the comeback trail, was third. If not for touching his hand down on a triple lutz, the 1993-94 national champion might have been second.
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