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Jill Trenary Favored in U.S. Figure Skating : (- 5p8)

February 05, 1989|Associated Press

BALTIMORE — It's time to get serious, real serious, for Jill Trenary.

Trenary, the 1987 national champion, barely missed a medal at the Calgary Olympics, finishing fourth.

With all three medalists gone professional, Trenary not only is the top-rated American woman figure skater, but in line for the world championship, as well.

This week, Trenary goes after her second crown in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships--she also finished second to Debi Thomas in the 1988 nationals and was fifth in the worlds.

"I know what it feels like to win and, obviously, I would love to win that back," says Trenary, 20, of Colorado Springs, Colo., who trains with world-renown coach Carlo Fassi. "I skated well at nationals last year, too. It just happens that Debi just edged me out a little bit. That was fine. That's competition.

"Being that I did come in second last year, it would make winning all the more exciting this year."

And expected. While the men's competition has no overwhelming favorite, Trenary clearly is the frontrunner among the women, who get started with the compulsory figures on Wednesday.

"I feel it already," she says. "It's going to be a little more intense, a little bit more work. But I'm smart to recognize that and I'm ready. know what to expect, and if I know it and am prepared for it, I can just skate. I don't have to open a newspaper if I don't want."

If she does some reading, she'll know that Caryn Kadavy, third in the last two nationals, is sidelined by a stress fracture of the left ankle. Jeri Campbell, fourth in the '88 nationals, also has a sprained ankle.

The toughest competition could come from Kristi Yamaguchi, who began her season with a strong second place in Tokyo. Trenary calls Yamaguchi "technically very strong" and expects a "tough challenge from her."

Yamaguchi also skates pairs with Rudi Galindo, with whom she won the world junior title in 1988.

Galindo also skates singles but shouldn't be a factor. The key to the men's competition could be Chris Bowman's leg injury.

Bowman suffered a gash of his left ankle while performing a comical routine in an exhibition Dec. 1. The cut needed four layers of stitches and, according to Frank Carroll, Bowman's coach, the 21-year-old Californian's condition is "uncertain."

"It was a serious injury, on the inside and outside of the ankle," Carroll says. "There was some muscle damage.

"He hasn't had a lot of work--Chris also had a pulled groin muscle. But he's been skating recently."

Bowman was edged for second place in the nationals a year ago by Paul Wylie of Denver. Wylie won the Lalique Trophy in Paris last November but is not as spectacular a free skater as Bowman.

"It's kind of like comparing apples and oranges," Wylie says. "Chris has one extra trick, but I have a program that I think is more moving than his. This is the brass tacks, the long-program analysis, because it's going to come down to the long program."

If it does, Bowman might have an ace in the hole, a triple axel.

"I hit it at Skate America and that was a big step for me," says Bowman, 21, of Los Angeles. "But I also might have focused too much on it; some of the later jumps were difficult because, by then, my mind was out in the parking lot."

The men's battle could be spiced by former world junior champion Todd Eldredge, who also has been sidelined by physical probems. Eldredge has bruised cartilage in the back.

Back problems forced Scott Gregory to retire and his ice dance partner, Suzanne Semanick, found a new sidekick in Ron Kravette. Semanick-Gregory had won the last two U.S. crowns, but Semanick-Kravette are considered longshots in the dance, where significant movement in the standings is unusual.

The dance favorites are Susan Wynne and Joe Druar, who were runners-up in the '88 nationals.

"We were just happy to make the Olympics," Wynne says of 1988. "Eveybody was asking us, 'Aren't you mad you weren't first?' I thought, 'We're in the Olympics. It's OK.'

"This year, it's just as nerve-racking for us. This year, it's first place, just like last year it was the Olympics as a goal. If we come in second this year, we wouldn't be happy."

April Sargent and Russ Witherby are the main challengers.

In pairs, with Olympic bronze medalists Jill Watson and Peter Oppegard now professionals, 1986 national champs Gillian Wachsman and Todd Waggoner figured to move up. But they returned to school, leaving Olympians Kim and Wayne Seybold as the top duo.

"Right now, we're the top-ranked team in the United States and we want to come here and prove that and win a gold medal," Wayne said. "We've been skating together 16 years and we've been junior national champions, we've been on the world team, the Olympic team, we've been second, third, fourth, fifth and ninth at senior nationals. We've won international competitions and things, but the one thing that's eluded us is the national championship. That's what this year is all about."

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