Event Is Held on Ice, but It's Hard for Contenders to Stay Cool

They paced, they picked at their food. One sat solemnly in the stands.

Figure skaters in contention for a spot at next month's U.S. nationals handled the post-competition pressure a number of ways Saturday afternoon in the Pacific Coast Championships at the San Diego Ice Arena.

"I think I'm going to throw up," said Steven Smith, who sat slumped in the stands while waiting for the final results in the junior men's competition to be announced. He had been third going into the final long program of this event, the qualifier for the nationals in Salt Lake City.

Four skaters advance.

They waited 30 minutes for the standings to appear on a monitor hung high in the arena. Some couldn't stand to watch, so family and friends broke the news.

San Diego's John Baldwin Jr. was apprehensive, but for other reasons. He was first going into the long program and not the least bit worried about making the trip to Utah.

"This is where I skate and train," Baldwin said. "And I was skating well all week."

Baldwin continued to skate well, but Scott Davis of Great Falls, Mont., was better by a hair, or so said the judges. Davis received four first-place votes, two seconds and one third. Baldwin had three firsts and four seconds, giving Davis the title. Baldwin was second, Smith third.

"It was the triple lutz that made the difference," said a visibly disappointed Baldwin.

Baldwin skated after Davis and changed two of his five planned triples--a flip and a lutz--to doubles.

Davis, 17, who skates for the Lakewood Winter Club in Tacoma, Wash., attempted six triples. Although he fell twice, his routine was smooth. The difficulty, tight spins and presentation were rewarded.

"It was the whole program in general," said Davis, who also beat Baldwin here last year but finished behind him both in worlds last month (Baldwin was third, Davis fourth) and at the 1989 nationals (Baldwin was fourth, Davis sixth).

"People think second is great," said Baldwin's father and coach, John Sr., "but when you're third in the world, second here is a little disappointing."

Especially when the margin is so slim.

"John's performance was good," he said, "he just lacked the jumps. Scott tried everything."

Said John Jr.: "I just threw the doubles instead. I'm upset because I'd been doing them (the triples) all week, and I felt real confident."

For Baldwin, representing the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club, a slight bobble on a triple toe loop was the only glitch in an otherwise stylish and inventive program.

"This was the best I've skated all week," said Baldwin, 16, in his third year on the junior circuit and one of its youngest competitors. "It could have gone both ways."

Baldwin sees a trend here. Since Davis defeated him at this sectional last year, he hopes he will again finish ahead of him at nationals.

"I'll get him there," he said. "I'm just going to keep training hard to be ready."

Skating Notes

Rory Flack of the La Jolla Figure Skating Club finished sixth in the senior women's competition, won by Holly Cook of the Utah Figure Skating Club. . . . San Diego's Todd Eldredge completed six triple jumps in his long program late Friday to come from third place and win the senior men's title. . . . San Diego's Camille Boatwright and Mike Thompson, both of the San Diego Figure Skating Club, finished second in the adult junior dance competition to qualify for nationals. . . .Another local pair, Brigit Luciani and Robert F. Engle III, was second in the adult senior dance event. . . . Robert Davis of the La Jolla Figure Skating Club teamed with Dana Schneider of Arctic Blades Figure Skating Club and finished second in junior dance.

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