Triples lift Boitano to 4th title in row

December 08, 1991|By Susan Reimer | Susan Reimer,Sun Staff Correspondent

LANDOVER -- Brian Boitano strung together a batch of his trademark triples and made it a quadruple -- a fourth straight men's title at the NutraSweet World Professional Figure Skating Championships.

And it was his hardest-fought title, as Scott Hamilton and Robin Cousins -- gold medalists who had been eclipsed by Boitano -- cut him no quarter.

"It really means a lot to me," said Boitano, who edged Hamilton by seven-tenths and Cousins by eight-tenths of a point out of a possible 100 points.

And it did it with the quick-footed fun-packed style that they have made their own.

"It is difficult for me," said Boitano, who thrilled the women with his version of Harry Connick Jr.'s "Just Kiss Me."

"Slow and strong is me. It was a reach," he said. Boitano scored perfectly in the technical program, but Cousins, with a "happy feet" style that belies its difficulty, scored perfectly in the artistic portion on a similar number by Manhattan Transfer.

Brian Orser, who included a tribute to friend and skater Rob McCall, who died of complications of AIDS, fought back tears at the conclusion of "My Buddy."

So did McCall's former partner, Tracy Wilson, who was a judge and awarded Orser a 9.9 out of 10.

It is Debi Thomas' last year of professional skating -- medical school looms in the fall -- and she made it count, winning her third title here before 14,517.

The $40,000 first price will go a long way toward tuition.

"This is the icing on the cake," said Thomas, after her graceful artistic performance to Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, helped her edge defending champion Denise Biellmann.

"And since it is my last time, it feels even better," said the engineering graduate from Stanford.

The Soviet pairs team of Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov took the pairs title, overcoming a serious challenged from newly paired Cindy Landry and Peter Oppegard, who appear to be the heirs apparent to the steamy duo of Paul Martini and Barbara Underhill, who did not compete this year.

Skating in black-and-white clown costumes to music from the opera Pagliacci, they scored 10s from five of the seven judges to edge out the Oppegard and his new partner.

The dramatic Moscow pair of Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin won the ice dancing title for the second time in three years.

In four years here, Boitano has not made an error in the technical program. And he made none last night, winning the first round with 10s from six of seven judges.

He hit five triples in a program skated to Aaron Copland's Symphony No. 3, music which distracted no one from the purity of his skating.

Hamilton, returning to this competition for one last time he said, "before the next group of Olympians pushes me out," was second after the technical program.

"I've been struggling with some jumps, but when I show up here, they come back," said Hamilton, who shook his fist in triumph after hitting his first triple jump in a crowd-pleasing, jazzy performance to Connick's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore."

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