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FIGURE SKATING NOTEBOOK : Bowman Still in Pain, May Miss Freestyle

February 11, 1990|RANDY HARVEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SALT LAKE CITY — Christopher Bowman, whose chronic back pains returned before Friday night's original program in the national figure skating championships, had difficulty completing a workout Saturday and might not skate in today's freestyle program at the Salt Palace.

"He would like to skate, but we are still trying to decide," said his coach, Frank Carroll. "We may wait until the last minute."

Bowman, from Van Nuys, all but lost his chance to repeat as national champion when he finished fourth in the original program, leaving him in fourth place overall.

Asked if Bowman's notoriously lax work habits contributed to the problem, Carroll said, "He is a little heavy right now, and that might be a factor."

The U.S. Figure Skating Assn. hopes to learn the fate today of its emergency petition, which asked the International Skating Union to waive a 10-year-old rule and allow Natasha Kuchiki of Canoga Park to compete in the World Championships next month at Halifax, Canada.

Kuchiki, 13, and her partner, Todd Sand of Thousand Oaks, finished second Friday night in the pairs competition to defending national champions Kristi Yamaguchi of Fremont, Calif., and Rudi Galindo of San Jose. Although the first three finishers are supposed to represent the United States in Halifax, Kuchiki and Sand are ineligible because she is too young.

According to ISU rules, competitors must be 14 by July 1 in the year before the World Championships. Kuchiki will not be 14 until October, also making her ineligible for the 1991 World Championships.

USFSA President Franklin Nelson said Thursday he believed the chances of having the rule waived were less than 50-50. But after Friday night's competition, he said he had "some optimism."

In any event, he said the USFSA will ask for a change in the age-limit rule before next year because it no longer is relevant.

"Many years ago, our friends from Russia would come over with a 6-1 or 6-2 man with a 12 or 13-year-old young lady, who was 4-10 and 88 pounds," said John Nicks, who coaches Kuchiki and Sand in Costa Mesa.

"There were no restrictions on lifts and throws. The semi-giant would lift his little partner and throw her 10 or 12 times in a program. But there are restrictions on lifts and throws today. The rule is outdated. It doesn't relate to our pair today."

At 5-feet 1-inch, 107 pounds, Kuchiki is larger than the 5-foot, 87-pound Yamaguchi, who is 18.

Twice previously, Kuchiki qualified for junior World Championships but was ineligible because she was too young.

Yamaguchi and Galindo dedicated the pairs championship to their late coach, Jim Hulick of West Covina, who died of cancer in December at age 38. He will be honored in a ceremony today at the Salt Palace.

"We definitely were thinking of him this entire week," she said. "This performance was for him, and we know he's still here with us."

The junior women's champion, Alice Sue Claeys of Burnsville, Minn., is exceptional not only as a skater. Only 14, she is a freshman at the University of Minnesota.

She is taking five courses this quarter and plans to graduate in three years with a major in Theatre Arts. She wants to go to graduate school in International Law, and her fluent French should be useful in that field. She also is learning German.

She said that she got on an accelerated academic track by taking correspondence courses, which were necessary because she was too busy with skating to go to school. She never entered a classroom until she was 11, when she enrolled in the 10th grade.

"I'm no more intelligent than anyone else," she said, "but I've had more opportunities to achieve than others."

Tristen Vega of Torrance and Richard Alexander of Simi Valley won the junior pairs championship. Alexander skated with Kuchiki in the nationals last year. The junior men's champion is Scott Davis of Great Falls, Mont. John Baldwin Jr. of San Diego finished third.

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