San Jose Mercury News (CA)
January 19, 1996
GALINDO HAS THE MARK,
IF NOT MARKS, OF CHAMPION
Ann Killion column
Edition: Morning Final
WHY, PEOPLE have been asking
this week, does Rudy Galindo keep skating?
He answered the question
In a spectacular homecoming
before a supportive crowd, Galindo, 26, skated the solo performance of
his career. It was a special moment, reminiscent of the magic he created
on the ice seven years ago when he and Kristi Yamaguchi stunned the figure
skating world and won a gold medal in pairs at the Baltimore nationals.
Thursday was another one of those rare confluences of artistry, skill and
timing for Galindo.
The performance put him in
third place, the best finish after the men's short program of his singles
career, and in position to win the gold medal with his long program Saturday
And, you could argue, Galindo
should have been placed even higher.
After all, he landed the
most difficult combination jump of the evening, a triple-Axel, triple toe.
His performance was clean, his moves balletic, capturing the emotion of
''Canon in D'' by Johann Pachelbel. Scott Davis, who finished second, touched
his hands down to the ice on one landing and performed a triple-Axel, double-toe
combination. Todd Eldredge, who is in first place, also did the easier
There's no way Galindo deserved
being marked down to a 5.4 (out of a perfect 6.0) for the technical part
of his program, as he was by two judges.
But Galindo wasn't having
any part of a judging controversy.
''I'm happy with my marks,''
Galindo said. ''Todd and Scott are Olympic skaters and world-ranked.''
And who could blame him for
toeing the safe line? Galindo has been dogged by tragedy and turmoil for
most of his skating career.
The uproar over his remarks
to be etched on the statue honoring local skaters across from San Jose
Arena - Galindo asked that his original quote concerning being Mexican-American
in an ''All-American'' sport be changed - was just a recent example of
There was the difficult breakup
with Yamaguchi in 1990, after winning two national pairs championships.
In the aftermath of the split, Galindo struggled with his feelings at seeing
Yamaguchi's career soar while his stagnated. A new skating book, ''Inside
Edge,'' reveals Galindo's concerns with perceptions of his sexuality, information
he now describes as confidential. Galindo has been plagued by financial
trials throughout his career. Living with his mother in a trailer park,
he took eight months off last year to coach skating, to earn enough money
to keep skating.
And then there are the funerals.
His father died of a heart attack in 1993. Over the years, his older brother
died of AIDS, and his first coach Jim Hulick and his second coach Richard
Inglesi also passed away. Inglesi succumbed to AIDS a year ago, just a
few weeks before the 1995 U.S. Figure Skating Nationals where Galindo finished
''There has always been something
tragic going on,'' said Laura Galindo, Rudy's sister, coach and strongest
supporter. ''This year he made up his mind that there wouldn't be an excuse.''
When Galindo got ill a few
weeks ago, Laura told him to take some medication and ''get over it.''
And he did.
Brian Boitano has described
Galindo as the hungriest skater in the competition. And Galindo's endurance
over the years has proved his fighting spirit.
He took the ice after Davis,
earning a loud round of applause.
''I was overwhelmed,'' Galindo
said. ''I knew when I stepped on the ice, the crowd would be behind me.''
He hit the combination right
away. He had been practicing it all week and knew if he landed the Axel
solidly, he'd be able to pull off the triple toe.
When he finished his program,
Galindo was greeted with a thunderous, standing ovation. Among those rising
to their feet was Kristi's mother Carole Yamaguchi, a woman Rudy used to
describe as a second mother.
Galindo covered his face
with his hands, and jumped in delight.
''There have been a lot of
high points in my life, and this is one of them,'' he said.
The emotion on his face was
''I was thinking of all my
friends and family that passed away,'' he said. ''I feel they're watching
me. And before I skate, I always say, 'Please help me.' ''
Skating is full of controversies
such as Thursday night. It's difficult to figure out why a certain judge
marks a skater down. Galindo has a goatee and the judges are said to dislike
facial hair on skaters. Galindo has been outspoken in the past, something
that scares the politically uptight skating world. Galindo isn't one of
the ''favorites,'' like Eldredge and Davis.
But Galindo wasn't worrying
about the politics of his sport. He was, finally, capturing the moment.
Why, some ask, does he keep
This is why.
''I've had a lot going on
in my life, and that's one of the reasons why I get so emotional after
I skate,'' he said. ''I've been through so much. Skating is a whole new
world for me, a place not to think and dwell on the bad things that have
happened to me. It's why I love skating.''
Copyright (c) 1996 San Jose
to Rudy In Print