U.S. Figure Skating Championships : Chin Is Fast and Flawless in Winning Women's Title

Associated Press

Tiffany Chin took charge of her skating career and now she's in charge of the U.S. women's skating crown.

Chin, 17, one of America's bright hopes for the 1988 Calgary Olympics, won the women's title Saturday at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Judy Blumberg and Michael Seibert, who lost a bronze at Sarajevo by fractions, won their fifth straight U.S. dance gold medal Saturday night. They skated to three distinct tempos--unlike the single piece of music called "Scheherezade" they danced to win the 1984 championship.

The dance competition concluded the week-long U.S. Championships at 18,000-seat Kemper Area, which was only half full on most nights.

Chin, of Toluca Lake, Calif., was fast and flawless on the ice, a far cry from the nervous teen-ager who made mistakes Friday night in the short program.

"Last night I wasn't happy at all with my skating. Today, I decided I would be on my own. My coach told me I had to be more independent," said Chin, runner-up at last year's nationals to 1984 Olympic silver medalist Rosalynn Sumners.

"I felt pretty aggressive going into it. I decided if I land a jump I'm really going to land it and if I fall, I'm going to do it aggressively," she said with a laugh.

"The great thing wasn't the way she skated today, but the way she came back after skating poorly Friday," her coach, John Nicks, said.

"I think that's a sign of a champion," he added.

Debi Thomas, 17, of San Jose, Calif., finished second.

Caryn Kadavy, 17, of Colorado Springs, Colo., finished third in her first U.S. championship.

Chin, who nearly won a bronze medal at the Sarajevo Olympics, skated far more conservatively than she did last year at both nationals and the Winter Games, where she finished fourth.

Her program included just two triples--a triple toe walley and a triple toe loop. Last year, she also landed a triple flip and a triple salchow.

Her technique, however, remains of championship caliber and her choreography was enchanting.

Her marks ranged from 5.4 to 5.8 of a possible 6.0 for technical merit, but she got all 5.8s and 5.9s for style.

"There were some things I left out," she said of her program.

"She said she didn't feel comfortable going into a triple salchow and she left it out," Nicks said. "I thought that was extremely good judgment."

The 5-foot-1, 99-pound schoolgirl and Thomas will represent the United States at World Championships March 2-14 at Tokyo.

In October 1983, Thomas became the first black skater to win an international senior singles' competition when she finished first in a Tours, France, event.

She will be the first black singles skater to compete on a World team.

"It hasn't hit me yet. I'm still a little bit in shock," she said.

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