Photo by Paula Slater

ESPN Professional Skating Championships - 1999

"Am I the only one who thought Rudy Galindo way outskated Jumpin' Joe?  All right, they both had several technical bobbles, but I thought Rudy was light years ahead of Joe artistically.  I don't understand Joe's lead at this point."


 "I completely agree, but much as I love Rudy, he's GOT to do something about that costume.  Completely x-rated!"


 "i loved rudy's program....does anyone else think his layback is more gorgeous than any of the ladies?"


 "I was very surprised to see so many triple axels attempted, albeit unsuccessfully in most cases. Galindo especially hasn't attempted one that I can remember recently. By the way, I absolutely loved Galindo's music. It was simply gorgeous, and I'm a sucker for a cappela harmonizing. Ugly costume, but this program did have more substance than most of his recent fare."


 "Well, on that note, let me just say that I was pleased to see Rudy Galindo holding his baby nephew on his lap while waiting for his marks on ESPN Monday night.  I understand that Rudy's sister means a lot to him, and I bet a nickle that he is a great uncle and absolutely nuts about his nephew.  Bet he has pics in his wallet two feet long!!!!  And I also bet he is thinking more about the future than he ever has.
I was also pleased that the network put this on the air."


 "I liked Rudy's number the best in the men, but his jumps just weren't there that night."


 "I love Rudy Galindo and his costumes....he is gay as hell and damn proud! That man has more confidence then anyone I have ever seen!!!!!!!!!!!"


 "Also, regarding Rudy Galindo...(and Mark, don't take this the wrong way...) We all know he's gay, and confident, and that's great! BUT, I don't want to see *ANY* man dressed like that, gay or not. I just did not like his costume. I wish he would go back to tasteful, beautiful things like his nationals costume...or the one with "wings"..this one didn't do it for me. Just my opinion..."


 "I thought that Rudy's program was the closest to being good, not considering jumps at this point since I've completely lost track of who landed the most, etc."


 " I really enjoyed Alexei Urmanov and Rudy Galindo's programs.... though Rudy had one of THOSE revealing costumes again (no, I'm not a prude - just wondering how much tighter Rudy's velvets can get before we see more skin than we asked for!)"


 " I was so disappointed with the men, they all looked slow and the so called artistry looked forced except for Urmanov, Rudy and Phillippe."


The ESPN Professional Skating Championships held in Huntington, WV, October 18 and 19 provided a pleasantly different kind of skating experience for one who had only attended such events in much larger venues. The Huntington Civic Arena and the Holiday Inn, headquarters for the skaters and many of the fans, were across the street from each other with most of the other hotels within walking distance of downtown. There were many chances for fans and skaters to interact, and the small lobby of the hotel was often the scene of autograph and photo opportunities. The hotel dining area was a part of the lobby, as were the elevators, so breakfast was a particularly interesting time to walk cooly by! There were few after hours establishments open that served food, as well as liquid refreshments, and the skaters and fans discovered the main one the first night.

 On to the event...predictibly Rudy-centric. Sketchy notes and much of the music was a mystery.

 Technical Programs

Zagorodniuk (hereafter Zaggy) skated a jump filled program which included a triple axel, triple toe (I think) combination and various other completed triples. He was the surprise and deserving winner. His music was Elvis, from Love Me Tender to Tutti Frutti.
Technical scores 9.8, 9.8, 9.7, 9.7, 9.8
Artistic scores 9.7, 9.7, 9.7, 9.6, 9.7
Total 97.2

 Urmanov fell on his 3A (I think--an early jump anyhow and big fall), seemed to tire toward the end of his performance, and ended up second. Costume was leather look and dramatic music predictibly Urmanovian.
Technical scores 9.7, 9.6, 9.6, 9.6, 9.7
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.7, 9.8, 9.6, 9.7
Total 96.8

 Sabovcik's music was also typical for him. His warmup jumps were huge, but he seemed a little duller in the performance. The first jump, maybe a 3lutz was there, though he faltered on the 3Axel. He was even a little close on the back flip. Same old same old music and costume.
Technical scores 9.6, 9.8, 9.7, 9.5, 9.5
Artistic scores 9.7, 9.8, 9.6, 9.5, 9.6
Total 96.3

 Rudy was fabulous in the warmup--mostly with some new moves, including what looked like a Charlotte spiral, and a new entrance to his Y, or martini glass spin. The latter is sort of a sitspin coming up to the full stretch, and it's very effective. Unfortunately, this five minute session was the first time Rudy had been able to get on the ice. He had less than 24 hours each day separating Saturday night's Ice Jam, Sunday's benefit Great Skates IV performance in Andover, MA, and this Monday night competition. He couldn't make it to Huntington in time for the men's practice session (flying in the mountains of West Virginia can be treacherous and time-consuming!).

 The program was to "The Rose," the Stanford Fleet Street Singers version. Rudy's costume was deep, dark red, long-sleeved, plain neckline. The bottom seems to be a velvety material and the top a different texture with a subtle design and sparkles on it. I later found out the these were actually tiny Swarovski crystals! Rudy looks very fit and trim now and the costume is perfect for the program. Rudy bravely tried a 3A right off, and stayed on his feet, but stepped out of it. This was apparently his first one in some time! He had an uncharacteristically wonky 3L, but the rest of the program was lovely. This one will only get better with time (this was the second performance of it--the other being the night before). In my opinion, he was very undermarked. Others have noted the same thing, but jumps and not much else seemed to be the order of the day.
Technical scores 9.5, 9.7, 9.6, 9.4, 9.5
Artistic scores 9.7, 9.8, 9.7, 9.6, 9.7
Total 96.2

 Philippe Candeloro, skating to music from Mission Impossible, probably spent a full 45 seconds of his technical program climbing on and around the judges table. His jumps weren't on, but the audience was and screamed uproariously.
Technical scores 9.5, 9.6, 9.6, 9.4, 9.5
Artistic scores 9.9, 9.8, 9.8, ?, 9.5
Total  96.1

 Eric Millot, ever the gentleman and seemingly pleased to be there, skated a competent and attractive program  to dramatic music with a patriotic tone which lacked the more difficult jumps. There was a group of young boys (yes, really) who kept wanting the skaters to come and get their flowers, and Millot made them happy by accomodating them.
Technical scores 9.5, 9.6, 9.5, 9.5, 9.5
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.6, 9.7, 9.6, 9.8
Total 96.1


 Lots of tangos and tango-variations!

 Rahkamo and Kokko are always appealing and fun to watch, and were it not for the unbelieveable couples mentioned above, they certainly would have placed higher. They did an expectedly whimsical tango.
Technical scores 9.7, 9.7, 9.7, 9.7, 9.7
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.7, 9.7, 9.7, 9.8
Total 97.2

 Punsalan & Swallow were brilliant and gave notice of their prowess with a fascinating warmup in which they skated in complete unison at good speed around half of the ice several times. Their tango was even more fabulous (and different) than at World Pros last year and they were the hands down winners.
Technical scores 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, 10, 9.8
Artistic scores 9.9, 9.9, 9.8, 9.9, 9.8
Total 98.5

 Usova and Platov still seem a little forced to me, from the costumes to the skating. They are obviously superb skaters, but there was a fluidity about P & S that made them much easier to watch. Usova fell on something on the ice.
Technical scores 9.6, 9.8, 9.7, 9.9, 9.7
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, 9.9, 9.7
Total 97.7

 Romanova & Yaroshenko performed to music from Cabaret, which Rahkamo and Kokko used to much better advantage the next night.
Technical scores 9.6, 9.6, 9.6, 9.6, 9.6
Artistic scores 9.7, 9.6, 9.6, 9.7, 9.7
Total 96.3


 This was basically the same group as last year with the same exciting down to the wire matchups that gave us another opportunity to see some of the best pairs competition of recent years.

 Leonova & Khvalko skated to a fast-paced heroic kind of number that really set off their strengths. It never let up and neither did their inventive lifts and shows of her flexibility. It was a very impressive beginning, and they won this part.
Technical scores 9.9, 9.9, 9.9, 9.9, 9.9
Artistic scores 9.9, 9.8, 9.7, 9.8
Total 98.5

 Bechke and Petrov, like last year came in and performed a perfect program to Russian music, but it didn't have quite the forward flow of L & K's.
Technical scores 9.9, 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, 9.8
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, 9.8
Total 98.1

 Woetzel and Steuer had a bobble on the throw,  and may not have had side by side triples as did the first two pairs, but were otherwise excellent. Piano music, maybe their Olympics music??
Technical scores 9.7, 9.7, 9.7, 9.7, 9.6
Artistic scores 9.9, 9.7, 9.7, 9.6, 9.8
Total 97.1 (this could be wrong--have another total of 97.8)

 The French Canadian pair, Savard-Gagnon & Bradet completed a very pleasant and competent program to romantic music which was somewhat along eligible lines.
Technical scores 9.7, 9.6, 9.8, 9.7, 9.8
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.7, 9.7, 9.4, 9.7
Total 96.9

 Hartshorn and Schweiding were again audience favorites, but their moves were not quite what the other skaters were doing, i.e., throw single, etc.
Technical scores 9.6, 9.5, 9.4, 9.5, 9.5
Artistic scores 9.6, 9.8, 9.7, 9.5, 9.8
Total 95.9


 This was probably the weakest field.

 Surya Bonaly was easily the class of the group. Tonya Harding showed flashes of promise on her spins and non-jumping moves, but fell on at least two of her planned triples in the technical program. The most notable thing was Tonya Harding's relatively warm reception and support. Rory Burghart, as usual, had some lovely and interesting moments, but still had jump problems. Tonya Kwiatkowski and Liz Manley were pretty unmemorable this night, except that I really liked Tonia K's costume. For those who care, here are the scores
Rory Burghart -
Technical scores 9.6, 9.7, 9.6, 9.6, 9.6
Artistic scores 9.7, 9.8, 9.7, 9.6, 9.7
Total 96.6
Liz Manley -
Technical scores 9.5, 9.5, 9.5, 9.5, 9.5
Artistic scores 9.7, 9.7, 9.6, 9.5, 9.7
Total 95.7
Tonia Kwiatkowski -
Technical scores 9.6, 9.6, 9.7, 9.6, 9.5
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.7, 9.7, 9.5, 9.6
Total 96.3
Surya Bonaly -
Technical scores 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, 9.7
Artistic scores 9.9, 9.8, 9.8, 9.6, 9.7
Total 97.7
Tonya Harding -
Technical scores 9.7, 9.6, 9.6, 9.4, 9.6
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.6, 9.6, 9.5, 9.6
Total 96.0

 Artistic Programs

 These programs played to a much larger audience than the first night.

Only artistic scores were given--and doubled. Millot was much like he was in the Technical programs--doing a rousing program to Don Quixote music (Man of La Mancha) that was well received.
Artistic score 9.6, 9.6, 9.6, 9.5, 9.5
Total 95.6
Overall score 191.7

 Philippe's rest period in his bullfighting themed program was spent in a long undressing segment which apparently appealed more to the judges than his visit to their quarters in the Technical program! His jumps were better, but still pretty sloppy. He fell over one of his breakaway sleeves which caused us all to take a deep breath. For this, he was rewarded with straight 9.8's.  OK if the audience's vocal output determined the scores.
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, 9.8
Total 98.0
Overall score 194.1

 Rudy did the Studio 54 program he did at last year's Battle of the Sexes with some changes. His skating was clean--one or two triples and a couple of double axels, the usual best spins in the competition, and a final split that was better than anyone's except maybe Nicole Bobek's. The costume was the mustard colored pants (again with crystals!), which look great on Rudy, and a purplish-blue sheer shirt--oh, and hair sparkles! He pulled a bit of a Philippe with the audience, but only for about 10 seconds or so. The audience was not as willing to go on a Rudy ride on this one as with the Village People, though the reception was good. For one thing, the music doesn't have the same participatory effect.

 Philippe can be Philippe, but Rudy can't be Rudy without doing parody or being so over the top that audiences dare participate. And the judges are much less receptive than the audiences. Rudy isn't allowed to "dance around," but Philippe can stand around removing articles of clothing or shamelessly judge-taunting. There are going to be people who are uncomfortable with this number, much as they were with the Brady Bunch. The scores reflected attitudes more than Rudy's skating, and they were pretty absurd in a few cases.
Artistic scores 9.5, 9.7, 9.4, 9.7, 9.5
Total 95.6
Overall total 191.8

 Sabovcik's music and choreography was pretty much as usual. He again seemed a little less spirited in performance than I've seen him.
Artistic scores 9.7, 9.6, 9.6, 9.6, 9.7
Total 96.4
Overall total 192.7

 Urmanov skated to a competitive program he has used previously. He tired noticeably at the end, but had completed lots of jumps by that time in an ambitious effort. The audience was polite.
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.8, 9.7, 9.8, 9.7
Total 97.6
Overall total 194.4

 Zaggy skated to an Austin Power (?) song that most of the audience didn't know and didn't seem to get his interpretation. He had lost his jumps entirely from the previous evening, saving the judges the problem of having to figure out how to keep him out of first place. However, he did put in a good effort in this competition.
Artistic scores 9.5, 9.7, 9.5, 9.5, 9.6
Total 95.6
Overall total 192.8

Romanova & Yaroshenko skated to...Titanic. They were competent, but a little overfaced in this field.
Artistic scores (only have total) 95.4
Overall scores 191.7

 Rahkamo & Kokko performed a long program of Cabaret music. Petri did an extensive and very expressive Joel Gray bit at the beginning, and the number was quite appealing, though probably too long.
Artistic scores 9.7, 9.8, 9.8, 9.8, 9.7
Total 97.6
Overall total 194.8

 Usova & Platov again skated a very competent program, but something seemed to be missing...
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.9, 9.7, 9.7, 9.8
Total 97.8
Overall total 195.5

 Punsalan & Swallow have done some little things with the Sonny and Cher number that sharpen it up noticeably, and their performance was flawless. In what were the highest scores of the competition, they easily won the Dance championship.
Artistic scores 9.9, 10, 9.9. 9.9, 9.9
Total 99.2
Overall total 197.7

Hartshorn & Schweiding's scores were again roundly booed.
Artistic scores 9.5, 9.6, 9.5, 9.5, 9.5
Total 95.2
Overall totals 191.8

 Savard-Gagnon & Bradet skated a very nice program to lovely music (??).
Artistic scores 9.6, 9.7, 9.7, 9.6, 9.6
Total 96.4
Overall totals 193.3

 Woetzel & Steuer did the nice "let's dance" program with the chair, and the audience loved it. They skated flawlessly, but the leaders had yet to go.
Artistic scores 9.7, 9.8, 9.8, 9.7, 9.7
Total 97.4
Overall totals 194.4

 Bechke & Petrov performed an absolutely gorgeous number I hadn't seen before with elegant and inventive moves, and they skated it perfectly. Artistic scores 9.9, 9.8, 9.9, 9.9, 9.9
Total 98.8
Overall totals 196.9 (tie broken with artistic program)

 Leonova & Khvalko lost on their program. It was also very well skated, but the music didn't have the impact of Bechke & Petrov's and the moves weren't as creative.
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.9, 9.9, 9.8, 9.8
Total 98.4
Overall totals 196.9 (tie broken with artistic program)

Liz Manley did "Cowboy Sweetheart" and got a bit of a rise from the audience.
Artistic scores 9.5, 9.6, 9.5, 9.4, 9.5
Total 95.0>br> Overall totals 190.7

 Tonya Harding skated quite presentably. She completed three triples--a loop, and I think a triple toe and a salchow??? She singled a double axel. Her costume--black skirt and white top was very tasteful. Incidentally, she had quite a good warmup in which she did a few more triples. Good spins, too. Don't know the music, but it started slow then went into an upbeat number.
Artistic scores 9.8, 9.8, 9.6, 9.6, 9.8
Total 97.2
Overall totals 193.2 (tie broken with artistic program)

 Tonia Kwiatkowski had on the blond wig and white dress (Monroe?? She did Channing songs). Honestly, she didn't complete more than one double jump, let alone a triple.
Artistic score 9.4, 9.5, 9.5, 9.3, 9.7
Total 94.6
Overall totals 190.9

 Rory Burghart skated to "Summertime," a beautiful number for her, but the jumps weren't on.
Artistic scores 9.7, 9.7, 9.7, 9.5, 9.7
Total 96.6
Overall totals 193.2 (tie broken with artistic program)

 Surya Bonaly did a program to what sounded like African music with lots of drums, and I actually liked it as well as anything I've seen her do. It really showed off her athleticism, and she seemed to cover the ice better than usual.
Artistic scores 9.9, 9.9, 9.9, 9.8, 9.9
Total 98.8
Overall totals 196.5

 Check out the rest of this review from Nicole M. on Rudy's Message Board. It presents another perspective on many of the skaters from the review above. Below are the Rudy-related comments

 Just had a few comments about the review of the ESPN Pros. I think part of the problem with doing the "Studio 54" number in West Virginia is that the event was in, well, West Virginia! Not too be stereotypical or anything, but I think the percentage of homophobia in West Viginia is slightly higher than that of New York City, for instance. There was a surprising high number of men in the audience who looked like they would normally be watching World Championship Wrestling. I think many people who were there came mostly to see the Tonya Harding show, and were not particularly figure skating fans. So I hope Rudy wasn't too discouraged by the mixed reception to this number

. I remember Rudy doing the "Charlotte" in the warmup on the first night of competition, and it was at least as well done as Kwan's, with a more interesting exit. Does anyone know if he plans to include this in an upcoming program? I certainly hope so. I also loved the new spin that he did in the warmup. Too cool!

 Anyway, it was great to see Rudy's new program ("The Rose"), which was lovely. When he skates it to the best of his ability, it will be something special. He has really kept up his skating technique. I could watch him do nothing but skate circles around a rink, he does it so gracefully. I look forward to seeing him perform in the rest of the season. Good luck to all the skaters this year!

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Last updated September 7, 2001