San Jose Mercury News (CA)
March 22, 1996
RUDY BAGS A BRONZE; GALINDO
PROVES SAN JOSE SHOW WAS FOR REAL;
U.S.'S ELDREDGE WINS
ANN KILLION, Mercury News
Edition: Morning Final
Dateline: EDMONTON, Alberta
There are a lot of great
skaters out there on God's earth - hundreds, maybe thousands.
And Rudy Galindo is better
than all but two. Third best in the world! In the world!
Seven months ago he was sitting
in his trailer home in San Jose, watching soap operas, feeling sorry for
himself and riding his bike to and from the ice rink.
But then deliberately, carefully,
building atop pillars of belief only he and his sister Laura could see,
he structured a champion.
Thursday, the champion Galindo
built from the bottom up stood strong. Battered by talent from all corners
of the world, whipped by the winds of pressure, shaken by nerves, haunted
by the ghosts from the past, Galindo didn't wobble once.
''I thought I wouldn't be
nervous,'' Galindo said. ''But when I walked down the hallway from my hotel
room, I was the most nervous I've ever been. I was shaking and sweating.
Being in the last warm-up
was overwhelming. I didn't think I'd be there. Everyone is so good.''
Everyone was so good. The
talent level of this competition was mind-blowing. Canada's Elvis Stojko
landed a perfect quadruple jump early in the evening. The top three men
all skated flawlessly. The competition was decided by splitting hairs,
on how many combination jumps were performed.
And Galindo didn't wobble.
He held his own against the
He skated first in the final
group. The electricity that charged San Jose Arena in January was missing,
but the crowd was supportive. Signs cheering ''Rudy!'' hung from the Coliseum
as well as - maybe for the first time ever at a world championships - a
couple of rainbow flags, symbols of gay pride.
An ABC camera was inches
from Galindo's face as he waited to take the ice. He hid his nerves well,
skating to center stage with confidence, waiting for the strains of Tchaikovsky's
''Swan Lake'' to begin.
''There were a lot of things
going through my mind,'' he said. ''I skated well at nationals, and I wanted
to prove I could be consistent in my performances.''
He was. He hit his first
two triple/triple combination jumps perfectly. With the difficult moments
behind him and his confidence booming, he nailed four more triples. At
the end of four flawless minutes, the crowd rose to its feet to salute
''Three for three on standing
o's here,'' he said with amazement later.
His marks could have been
higher. His technical marks ranged between 5.6 and 5.8 - about right. But
his artistic mark could have been much higher. Still, Galindo was in first
place when he finished.
And then he waited.
Olympic gold medalist Alexi
Urmanov fell down, but Todd Eldredge skated the program of his never-ending
''Really, I have to thank
Rudy for beating me at nationals,'' Eldredge said.
And then the young Russian
wonder, Ilia Kulik, hit a few slam dunks on his triple jumps and became
an immediate favorite for the 1998 Olympics.
''It was great, tough - it
was total quality out there,'' said Stojko's coach, Doug Leigh.
And when it was all over,
Galindo was third best in the world.
As the anthem played, the
bronze medal resting on his chest, Galindo's eyes brimmed with tears. ''I
was standing on the podium and wishing my Dad and brother were there to
witness it,'' he said. ''I'm a very emotional person.''
It has been an emotional
journey for Galindo, one filled with illness and death and disappointment.
The only person constantly by his side has been Laura, and when he stepped
away from the microphones Thursday night he leaned over and placed the
bronze medal around his sister's neck. And then took off his skates and
put on the Nikes he bought with some of his newfound money.
More money will be coming
in for the kid who was riding a bike out of necessity a few weeks ago.
Galindo earned $20,000 for finishing third. A book deal has been finalized;
a movie deal is in the works.
He will head on Sunday not
home to San Jose but to Boston for a Pro-Am challenge that will also pay
good money. Then it's right out on a tour of skating champions that will
earn him approximately $375,000.
Galindo won't be back in
San Jose until mid-July. When he left town last week, he had to pack for
a whole new life. A life he built from the bottom up.
He never expected to be here.
He thought he'd spend this week in March at home watching the best skaters
in the world on TV. He didn't dare dream he'd be one of them.
But he is.
''It's been hard,'' he said.
''But now it's a happy ending. I'm going to go on with my life and train
Rudy is wrong. This isn't
an ending. It's a beginning.
Caption: PHOTO: ANNA MARIE
REMEDIOS - MERCURY NEWS
Rudy Galindo continued to
defy all odds when, on the heels of his victory in the U.S. Figure Skating
Championships in January, he finished third at the World Championships.
''I wanted to prove I could be consistent in my performances,'' Galindo
Copyright (c) 1996 San Jose
to Rudy In Print