The boy can SKATE?
Totally, personally, all by his little old American-boy lonesome, kicked a hole in the roof of the Target Center?
Let's roll out the quotes: "The slopmeister of American skating"?
"The boy who can't skate"?
"We just elevate him because he's pretty"?
How many big-timers about dropped dead that night? Just watching him skate?
"Todd Eldredge can skate?" I did catch that phrase.
"Huh? What's he doing?"
"How about that? Todd Eldredge can skate, can't he?" Take that one as a compliment, Eldredge.
Goddamn. He did it.
Todd Eldredge can skate.
Lord have mercy. I cannot believe that. I just cannot believe that.
Give me some help, guys. I was honestly so stunned I might have missed something.
I counted two edge drops. Obviously, the misplaced edge coming down out of the quad. (Took guts to try it anyway. It really did.) Check it out at about midpoint of rotation #2. He sort of tucks it under him instead of getting it right out there, ready to land. And the angle was just not there to hold, what, 180 pounds of rotating person? once he started to come down. That'll be taken care of soon, I do believe. He just wasn't ready for it. And another, believe it or not, was on an edge change. Eased back down into that sitspin and it just flopped a little. Near the end. You had to be looking real closely. Goddamn, the way the arena was vibrating at that point, could anyone have held an edge all the way through? Um...about halfway through the program, it looked like he was wobbling an edge a little getting ready to pop one of those big jumps of his. You know the way he does. (Did.) But he didn't. I had camera on the inner edge and saw it. It held. (Fun for viewers: Who was watching him all the way through, popping out fingers to count the dropped edges, and was astonished when he only lost three? And almost pulled that third one back in? I saw it. I call it two. The lean-in was cool.) (Fun stuff. Watch the same person's face on Slute.)
Todd. Eldredge. Yup. He can do it. An American title is going to mean something once again.
I want to talk about Nagano. The boy about stopped my heart. He really did.
In previous editions of this site, I had film of Midori Ito's 1992 Lillehammer second-chance triple axel up. (Check the Midori Ito fan site.) Damn near perfect technique. Damn near. Very few guys do it Midori's way. They haven't been trained properly. They really haven't. So I about fell over when Todd Eldredge blew his first axel and then, at the end of the program (just the way Midori did), went up for, I swear to God, a "Midori," as they call them. Almost had it, too. Could see him fighting for the landing the way she did. He didn't have her edge strength at that time. He does now. Roll it back to that axel at Worlds (long). There it is. Done right. "Midoris" are about as hard to get through US customs as wild chrysanthemum blossoms. Anyone feel like they're being listened to? Realistically, from that moment on, I have had no doubt. This site is being clicked in on. I can throw in all the disclaimers I want to, but that's because I have no proof. I still get cold chills. Put in extra time on this site. And hope it's helping. I knew. Right then. I knew.
So. Todd. Not many people could have worn that costume. It demands to be skated in. But you did it. Michelle may kill me, but I have never seen more absolute centering on a spin. It was one pure line all the way through. I said you ran me over the border to root for Elvis. Can I come back now? Just go visit him once in a while? That was just incredible. Just incredible. I'll be good. I really will. (Well, I gotta pick on Ilia once in a while....)
"Russian boys are judged on edges. Americans are judged on talk."
Sorry. Gonna have to bury that one.
Now who does the Committee to Stop Trash Talk At The Rink go to work on?
Slute. Who never has. Never would. And never will.
And for the record.
Neither has Todd. So shut up.
Just shut up. And before you start, she doesn't either. When I pick a kid to get ready to go ballistic on, I know what I'm doing. So don't even try it. You know my code words. You know my reputation. So don't start.
I'm not the only one who has a VCR memory.
Go get into that one last argument with Richard if you haven't. Sort of a ritual. Okay. Got that out of the way?
You can get your skate guards off quickly, right? You don't like to fool with that until the last minute.
Hair. Okay? Good. Costuming. Crucial for you. Always has been. Decide who you're going to bitch out about what after you get off the ice. There's always somebody.
Everything in place?
"Ladies and gentlemen, from the United States, Todd Eldredge!"
What is it about this boy that makes him so appealing and yet gets him bashed on so fast? Has anyone yet figured this out? Fans love him, and yet the love can turn to spite in an instant. I think it's that deep, hardworking aspect of his personality. He is very solid and very pure. We are a country that respects results and not what it took to get there. This boy has both, and sometimes it is incredibly obvious. How difficult can it be to be a high-achieving American skater and not have been driven crazy by the media nastiness? And in this case it is truly the media as bad as it is the "fans." He has been around so long and has achieved such a solid reputation that I think people honestly believe he doesn't notice. He just keeps skating. Well, any human being is going to notice. Sorry. That's just the way it is.
Cute. Sweet. All-American type. How does he succeed in an industry that so obviously rewards the dark appeal these days? It's like you've got to have some deep something deep down inside of you to be rewarded in this sport nowadays. Hmmmm...what does that tell us about him? He is good at keeping himself to himself. I think he likes it that way. I honestly think he would have been happier if he had been born in the Soviet Union or one of the other old-line skating countries where hard work and seriousness are appreciated. We almost want them to do it without trying. And everything Todd does shows so clearly on his face (you just have to look sometimes) that it is almost like he has been fighting an uphill battle for years.
So when does he get the recognition? Why does it have to always be one more medal, one more something, before it is good enough for the fans?
What is wrong with us that we cannot appreciate just simple good skating and not have to hate somebody?
Although Todd's fans are legendary in their devotion, I have also noticed that they are legendary (at least in my book) in their hatefulness. Elvis fans cut him so much slack it's unbelievable. Ilia fans figure they just don't know Soviet ways and leave him alone.
One wrong move (and it sometimes doesn't even have to be a wrong move) and he's nailed. My God. What does it take to maintain the image?
Y'Know, The Boy Really Can Skate