Thanks to Michael Weiss’ quasi-quad, Todd Eldredge’s little piece of history didn’t seem so significant.
That’s because Weiss seemed to grab a big chunk of history Saturday at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships as the first American to land the four-revolution jump in competition. An hour later, that achievement was no more as the USFSA announced it would not recognize the quad after a review of a slow-motion replay.
“He came down on his landing foot and, essentially pushed off with his second foot,” said Morry Stillwell, president of the USFSA and a long-time judge. “I was sitting in the audience and didn’t see anything that looked strange to me. I didn’t see it on the regular speed tape. But when I returned from looking at the slow-motion tape… . If I was on the panel, I don’t think I would have seen it.
“Our official statement is it can’t be recognized as a clean quadruple jump.”
Weiss didn’t agree.
“As far as I know, I landed it,” said Weiss, who was tracked down outside the arena and did not know of the USFSA decision. “As far as everybody else saw, I skated great.”
“I don’t know whether it’s true or not. I don’t know what they said.”
Weiss’ father, Greg, said he wanted to look at the videotape to see why his son’s jump was not recognized.
Even if the quad was recognized - nobody claimed Weiss didn’t complete four revolutions and six of the nine judges gave him near-perfect 5.9s for technical merit - it wasn’t enough to lift him past Eldredge.
The 25-year-old world champion won the U.S. title for the fourth time, tying him with such greats as Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano. He also took nationals in 1990, ‘91 and ‘95.
But he certainly recognized the headlines belonged to Weiss, particularly after Eldredge turned conservative Saturday.
“I watched it,” Eldredge said. “It was great for Michael. There is always going to be somebody behind you coming up. That’s what the sport needs.”
It was also the excitement the men’s event needed in what had the look of a walkover for Eldredge before Weiss’ magic.
After the controversial jump, Weiss kept right on going. The sharp guitar riffs of Carlos Santana punctuated each of his leaps, including two massive triple axels, one in combination, and two triple lutzes, one in a jump series.
“I wanted to keep my composure,” he said. “There are a lot of other jumps left in the rest of the program.”
When Weiss was done, the crowd rose in unison with a loud, long ovation. He punched the air in celebration, then skated off to hug coach Audrey Weisiger, who was in tears. They didn’t say a word to each other, and then they watched his marks.
The marks were superb for technical merit. He also had four 5.9s for presentation, and that was enough to give him second place, just behind Eldredge, in the free skate, worth two-thirds of the total score.
Eldredge finished first with five judges to four for Weiss, who soared from fifth after the short program to second overall. The difference was one-tenth of a point in presentation from one judge.
“I would have liked to have skated better for it,” Eldredge said of winning his fourth title. “Not to have gotten it last year, it feels great. I am happy about the title, but not totally happy with how I skated.”
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