Originally created 02/07/98

Eldredge debating quadruple jump



NAGANO -- Will he or won't he? To quad or not to quad, that is the question.

Todd Eldredge won't say if he will attempt a quadruple jump during the men's figure skating competition at the Winter Olympics this week. But he has changed his program only days before he is to skate, a rare acknowledgement that he must create some magic if he hopes to unseat favored Canadian Elvis Stojko.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Michael Weiss hopes to use his strength, the energy of his program and his own quad to sneak past both older skaters for the gold medal.

"The pressure is on a lot of other people and that will make it easier for me," said Weiss.

The pressure is on Eldredge to shed his image of winning everything except an Olympic medal.

The pressure is on Stojko to end his country's streak of never having a male figure skating gold medal. The holder of a black belt in karate, the muscular Stojko won silver in Lillehammer in 1994.

"The biggest amount of pressure is at the national championships," said Weiss. "I skated well at the national championships. That gives you a lot of confidence going into the Olympics. Now I can just relax."

Eldredge skated well enough to win the national championship. He has always been a smooth, lyrical skater, but many people believe he will need to create some excitement with his performance to win the Olympics. Apparently Eldredge is one of them.

"We tried to get the feeling of the program a little bit more exciting. The excitement comes from skating to the music a little better," he said Friday. "Making every movement mean something for the music is important. As for the jumps, I wouldn't count out the quad.

We'll wait and see. It went well in practice today . "I was looking for something refreshing and something refreshing and something new. Maybe it would have a little bit more impact on the judges if I came out and did something they hadn't seen before and they liked it."

Eldredge is feeling pressure to attempt a quad because Stojko and Weiss have the jump in their repertoire. Eldredge attempted it at the nationals, but couldn't land it cleanly.

Eldredge says he's trying to treat this as just another competition and not put the weight of Olympic expectations on his own shoulders.

"This is just another competition and I'm looking at it to go out and work as hard as I can and try to achieve what I want to achieve.

I can still come here and enjoy it and have a lot of fun."

Eldredge said he identified with John Elway, the successful quarterback for the Denver Broncos who finally won a Super Bowl. Now he hopes to duplicate Elway's success in what probably will be his last Olympics.

"A gold medal's gonna make it great, a silver medal will be good as well," he said. "When I go out to skate, I wanna win; there's a big difference between gold and silver."

Weiss said he can't wait for the hockey players to show up in the Olympic Village because he is a big hockey fan.

"I'm looking forward to sitting down and having lunch with like Eric Lindross on this side and another player on the other side," said Weiss. "And I'd notice it if Wayne Gretzky would walk by."

Asked if he thought any of the hockey players would notice him, Weiss laughed and said, "Probably not. Probably not. Yeah, I'm sure they're all sitting around watching figure skating. I'm sure all their wives are watching it. But it is becoming more universal."

The men skate their short program Thursday night and their long program Saturday night. The women's singles, where Michelle Kwan, Tara Lipinski and Michele Bobek hope for a U.S. medals sweep, skate next Wednesday and Friday.