LANDOVER -- Brian Boitano finished off the fall season last night with a title-clinching performance in the COMPLETE World Professional Figure Skating Championships.
"It feels great to get my title back," he said, after ousting defending champion Paul Wylie, 99.5 to 99.1. "I've won this title so many times, and to get those 10s tonight, it was wonderful. It's a stabilizing moment for me and sets up next season."
Perfection in the technical program was Boitano's contribution to the competition that also included the glamour of Kristi Yamaguchi's winning performance in the women's competition, and some good old-fashioned humor in the pairs.
Boitano, 31, won five straight world professional titles here at USAir Arena from 1988 to 1992, and reclaiming the title last night seemed to ease the pain that had come from a lesser performance in the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
"I thought if I skated well tonight, I could be perfect technically," Boitano said. "You never know if you're going to skate well, but I knew I had a program with the difficulty necessary to earn 10s."
Seemingly dressed for a role in the "Three Musketeers" -- with a goatee surrounding his mouth and billowing white shirt and tight black leotards covering his body --- Boitano wowed the judges with his precision.
While skating to music from "The Godfather, Part III," Boitano cooly demonstrated just how to immediately follow a triple Axel with a double toe.
"The technical program is the most important to me because the artistic is so subjective," he said.
Boitano needed every bit of his technical advantage, because Wylie, the defending champion, was determined to try for perfection in his artistic program -- and five of the nine judges felt he reached it.
"I really wanted a good performance of 'Schindler's List' on ice," said Wylie. "And I did it. I feel like I've just gone through final exams.
"I expect Brian to skate perfectly technically. I know I have to land the triple Axel in the technical program perfectly to beat him there. But I'm very happy to have won the artistic side [49.9 to 49.5].
"I'm not Jewish, so for me to really get into that music, I have to act. I have to think about that and at the same time, in this competition, skate the toughest program I have. It was a solid performance, and I'm thrilled with it."
Yamaguchi, who last won this title in 1992, also was pleased with her accomplishment.
She skated to "100 Percent Pure Love," and was 100 percent grace and charm as she came within .5 of a perfect score in her artistic program.
"This is probably the best I've ever skated -- except for being a little careless on the very last triple toe," she said. "[Midori] Ito was wonderful, too. You can only admire what she does. She inspires me."
But Ito, the defending world professional champion, was still dynamic.
The only difference between the two was Ito's triple Axel landings in the technical and artistic programs. She completed both jumps perfectly, but had to use her hands on each landing to keep from crashing into the ice rink walls.
Yamaguchi won with a total score of 99 to Ito's 98.5. Yuka Sato finished third, 97.8, and Katarina Witt was fourth, 97.2.
The pairs competition produced a wide variety of performances, including the one by Russians Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, who won with a fluid, beautiful performance to "Vocalise" by Rachmaninov.
But it was "Patricia the Stripper" who filled USAir Arena with laughter and made the sold-out crowd go nuts.
Isable Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler reversed roles and showed up in drag, earning the only standing ovation during pairs competition.
Though it didn't earn the wholehearted support of the judges, it was Eisler -- executing a full Axel and a triple twist in the role of Patrica the Stripper -- who stole the show when he shed his feathery pink stole and sequined skirt.
In the dance competition, Russians Maia Usova and Alexander Zhulin, who were making their event debut, won the title.
Dancing to Mozart, they outpointed defending champions Natalia Annenko and Genrikh Sretenski, 99.0 to 98.5. Susie Wynne and Rusty Witherby were third at 97.1.