Photo by Dana Alessi

Jefferson Pilot Pro Skating Championships - 1998

Friday Night

I'm Rudy's east coast web master for this site (so there is a bias!) and am attending both nights of the Jefferson Pilot Pro Skating Championships at the brand new Bi Lo Center in Greenville, SC, October 9-10. This event features all four disciplines (men and women's singles, pairs, and dance), with three performances from all of the competitors. The men completed two of their programs, the technical and artistic, on Friday night during nearly five hours of wonderful skating. Competitors in the men's event in addition to Rudy were Brian Boitano, Victor Petrenko, Philippe Candeloro, Viacheslaw Zagorodniuk (Zaggy), and Igor Pashkevich.

 The men led off, with the skaters entering the ice area about 30 feet from where I was sitting. I first saw Laura with the coaches, then Rudy in the sailor suit, so two questions were promptly answered...She is still traveling with him, and he was doing the "Village People" program first. The skaters went out for a six minute warmup, and all did not appear to be well with Rudy, although he didn't seem to be injured. He glanced back at Laura several times, shook his head, and had a bad fall. (Laura, on the other hand, looked gorgeous. The people around us kept asking who she was and were intrigued with how her hair shone under the bright lights as well as the fact she was expecting a baby in mid December!)

 I hoped maybe I had read something false into the warmup, but when Rudy skated the "Village People" number which he did with great energy night after night on the COI Tour, it just wasn't there. He tried his heart out, but singled the opening triple axel (?) attempt, had a fall, and wasn't the powerhouse he had been all year in this program. To his credit, he got the crowd behind him, and they really enjoyed the lighter number after several more serious offerings. This was one of the first times since Rudy turned professional that I thought he got an ok break on the scores, receiving a total of 97.0, putting him in third place after the technical program behind Brian Boitano and Victor Petrenko. (More about Boitano later.)

 Rudy did "Send in the Clowns" flawlessly in one of the evening's few standing ovations. He gained 0.2 points on Petrenko by finishing second in the artistic (to Brian), putting him in third place 0.2 points behind Victor. Boitano was not about to be defeated--or even touched--on this night.

 It was moving to watch Laura cajole Rudy through this when he apparently didn't feel well. She gently encouraged him, patted and touched him, and he went out and did his job. He seemed to be having some difficulty with his breathing after the second program. It's easy to see why Rudy responds so well to Laura. Her calm, but solid support is extraordinary.

 Laura also seemed to be helping Liz Manley, who skated better than I've seen her in a few years now. She dug in for a triple toe/double toe, beautiful double axel, some lovely combination spins, and seemed very determined, then pleased with the result. Had she completed one singled jump early on, she might have bettered her third place finish in this program behind Tara and Surya Bonaly (who did a lot of jumping, but had a less artitistically pleasing program). Liz' hair is dark again, and it is a HUGE improvement. She looked and skated like a different person. Same rock solid Laura on the sidelines! I wondered if this was a temporary or permanent arrangement.

 Speaking of hair, Rudy's longer shaggier look was a little strange under the sailor hat (would the Navy really let it go by??!!), but I loved it sort of slicked down a bit in "Clowns." Gave him a rugged look.

 General observations about the event:

 1) This may have been the best Pairs competition I've seen, amateur or professional, in some time. Hartshorn and Sweiding commanded a standing ovation with their "Columbus" program--and they were in last place after the first night. Bechke and Petrov were in first place with a program filled with inventive and difficult moves. Woetzel and Steuer were in second with an almost equally strong program. Kovarikova and Novotny and Leonova and Khvalko were in third and fourth, can't remember who was what, but they were close and both pairs were excellent. The audience was treated to some exciting and technically proficient pairs skating.

 2) Ice dancing wasn't far behind. Pasha and Sasha made an auspicious debut with "Smooth Operator" followed by an odd in every way program which got a wide range of scores, but seemed to be well received by the judges involved with ice dancing, Paul Duchesnay and Igor Shpilbaud (sp?). They will be exciting and interesting to watch. Rahkamo and Kokko did another Titanic number, maybe the best one out there, and were second at the end of the evening.

 3) Boitano was brilliant. In his technical program to Bocelli's "The Prayer", he had a shaky, but held landing to the triple axel, then completed a triple loop(?), triple salchow, triple toe/ double toe combination, and 'Tano Lutz. Plus all of the other Boitano moves, including tracing a Maltese Cross figure at the beginning of the program. His costume also had what looked like Maltese crosses on it. Has any amateur skater been this good this year??

 4) Philippe Candeloro didn't complete a single jump other than the back flip in the technical program to place sixth. He moved up to fourth after the artistic program.

 At the end of the first two mens programs, the results are:
Boitano, Petrenko, Galindo, Candeloro, Zaggy, Pashkevich

Saturday night

Rudy did Saint-Saens' "Rondo Capriccioso," the Sasha Zhulin choreographed number, and it is truly a masterpiece. He received four 9.9's and three 9.8's (Brian got all 9.9's), which moved him into second place over Petrenko. For those who care, the final scores and standings were Brian Boitano (196.6), Rudy (195.1), Victor Petrenko (194.9), Viacheslav Zagorodniuk (192.0), Igor Pashkevich (190.0). Had Rudy been feeling better Friday night, it would have been closer, but this was Boitano at his finest.

 The costume was quite ingenious--sort of a berry/purple velvet with one sleeve and arm nude material and a gold violin appliqued (or embroidered?) on the left side. Rudy had to skate after Philippe Candeloro had done his scream evoking Saturday Night Fever program, but he got the audiences' attention pretty quickly. He began kneeling on the ice "playing" the bow over the violin on the costume, becoming the violin. He actuallly is the violin, not just playing it.. I was entranced from then on. He kept the bow throughout the program integrating it into spins, jumps and footwork (yes, Rudy did some very nice footwork during a sort of frenzied conducting pass down the center of the ice, brandishing the bow--and his longer, wilder hair was perfect for this and the entire number). The spins were gorgeous creating new and beautiful positions and images. The jumps happened--a triple loop, triple toe, and double axel that I remember, another I missed at the end of the rink. The bow always enhances, never interferes. His character assumption ranged from delicateness to tempestuousness. All in all it combined some of the best qualities of Rudy's earlier programs--the exquisiteness of "On Golden Pond" and "Ice Castles," elegance of Pachelbel's "Canon in D," the inventiveness of "Send in the Clowns," and even the dark humor and arrogance of his "Swan Lake." Really a special program that Rudy performs like no one else could.

Rudy should be absolutely thrilled with the result. Friday night he struggled; Saturday he performed what may be a signature number for him (two in one year; from Village People to this!!). He seemed to feel much better tonight, was like a different skater. Maybe it was a 24 hour bug he had, allergies, whatever? He cheered for Tara and looked happy.

Laura had her hair up tonight and was again the most attractive person in the kiss and cry area. Liz Manley skated passionately and very well to Alanis Morrisette's "Uninvited" and held her third place, gaining a little on Surya Bonaly. Laura and she seem to work very well together and we all had lots of fun cheering for Liz.

 The pairs continued to be a stellar group. Leonova and Khvalko, the virtually unknown pair who won the US Open last year had a stunning final program and won! Her flexibility is unbelievable, and they have smoothed it out into very beautiful performances. Bechke and Petrov were as good as ever, but this new pair's last program eclipsed even their very fine last offering. Woetzel and Steuer's performances would have won any other competition (including a lovely rendition of "Mandy"), and they were third.

 Pasha and Sasha did a gorgeous and passionate number which won the Dance hands down. Rahkamo and Kokko were second with a strong performance, and, more important, seemed finally to really win the audience over.

 Rudy and Ingo Steuer joined Laura to watch Tara skate and cheer for her. She was the unquestioned class of the women's field. We couldn't help but notice that her mother, dog in arms, awaited Tara when she came off the ice from her last program. We thought the dog was waving (with help)!

 This was a wonderful competition for the audience--five hours of great skating two nights in a row in a brand new arena. Our seats on Saturday night were on ice in Row AA, and we had a blast taking pictures and finally getting to see everyone up close and personal. They even had a fall festival in downtown Greenville which must have had food booths from every restaurant in South Carolina!

 Most of all, we were proud of Rudy! All of you who can go to US Pros in San Jose have a treat in store.

"It was obvious that JP Sports and Bill Graham Presents were doing this as a big-time Landover type event. Everything looked very much like Landover in style. The judges were similar...Kerry Leitch was the referee and the judges were Paul Duchesnay, Barbara Roles Williams,Mark Russum,Igor Shpilband,Peter Burroughs, Petra Burka, and Bernie Ford. The scoring was like the old Landover...10 being perfect, and high and low thrown out. The remaining five judges were totaled. The technical (first) program had two marks, a technical and an artistic, and the other two artistic programs had only one mark each. This meant each competitor had a total of four sets of marks added for their final score...

 "They [Greenville, SC] have a beautiful new arena, only open one month, the BI-LO Coliseum (BI-LO being a local grocery chain) and have a hockey team, the Greenville Grrowl, starting this year. I was told that tickets for the COI Winter Tour here are already sold out for a February appearence...

 "Rudy Galindo did Macho Man and had jump troubles. He fell once and doubled some others, which hurt the continuity of the program. I don't think these difficult jumps are usually in this program. All of the men had upped the technical content of their programs. Rudy got low technical marks and high presentations, which seemed correct as the crowd loved this program as always...[second program] Rudy did Send in the Clowns very well and was rewarded with very good marks...[third program] Rudy did a new number, he is dressed like a violin, and carries a bow, and he did really well. He landed all of his jumps with the bow in his hand, most impressive was a beautiful 3L, and he also did a few elegant spins. He got almost all 9.9s, and the crowd was very supportive too."

 ---Cynthia McGinnes.

"Rudy Galindo--Wearing a burgundy velvet bodysuit w/one shoulder bare. It also had a violin embroidered across the chest with the strings running down one arm. He skated the whole program with a violin bow in one hand (even during jumps and spins). Not sure what the music was (a violin piece, of course). Elements: 3 flip, camel-open scratch spin, 3 loop, flying camel spin, 2 axel, scratch spin w/end of bow resting on one foot, 2 axel, crossfoot spin while holding the bow overhead.

 Marks: 9.8, 9.9, 9.8, 9.8, 9.9, 9.9, 9.9

 --When Suzanne & I saw him come out in that costume we both said "OH MY GOD!" (very loudly, I might add). I figured this had to be really strange. Oddly enough, he really won me over. I liked the program a lot. Whether you like Rudy or not, you have to admit it takes some serious guts to get out in front of thousands of people and skating programs like his with those kinds of costumes. Not only that, but he usually manages to make me like them. --Interesting side note: When Rudy finished the program, Pasha was clapping wildy, jumping up and down and hugging Rudy. I think she was more excited about the program than he was, LOL."


JP Pros - ESPN Television - Nov 30

"I just saw Rudy's violin number again (on that Jefferson Pilot thingy), and I must say I *do* love it! I've always loved that music (anyone skating to violin music will get the benefit of the doubt from me, anyway ;), and he skates to it very, very well. Great choreography."


 "Rudy: What can I say. The "violin" program is beautiful and I thought he deserved some tens. I most certainly thought this was the best artistic presentation of the night among the men. His jumps are consistant, his spins lovely and great extension and line. I'm beginning to see what Rudy is whining about. The judges do undermark him. Compared to Phillipe, Rudy was perfect."


 "RUDY: I love this Saint-Saens program. A quintessential Rudy!!"


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Last updated October 6, 2001