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Exclusive Required Elements Interview with Todd Eldredge

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I had the pleasure of interviewing former world champion Todd Eldredge the other day as Smuckers Stars on Ice visited the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. I was especially interested in asking him about the Denver Post article that I blogged about which quoted him as stating that Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir are unlikely candidates for improving skating's popularity in the U.S. because:

"They're so concerned with their own persona as opposed to the crowd, bringing in the crowd," Eldredge said. "When I watch them skate, they don't bring me into their performance. They need to do that."

Todd spoke about those quotes and more. I've transcribed the answers below.

Required Elements: In a Denver Post article, you were quoted saying that Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir were not the answer [to increasing skating's popularity] and that they were concerned too much with their personas and not as much with connecting to the audience. Was it taken out of context - do you stand behind those comments?

Todd Eldredge: It was absolutely incorrect. Never would I have ever said that. Anyhow, I believe obviously Johnny and Evan winning Nationals for the last several years (no, not this year), but the last several years, they're obviously fantastic skaters. So, no, there's no way I would ever say anything like that.

It's also great, in the same token to see other skaters in the mix. It's great to see those guys, it's great to see the fact that men's figure skating in the U.S. is pretty strong right now. And whether it be Johnny, Evan, Jeremy [Abbott] or Brandon [Mroz] or whoever, they're all great skaters. They're all different skaters, and I think they're all hopefully going to do some pretty good stuff this year at the Worlds.

RE: Do you think the American men will win medals at Worlds? Who do you expect to?

TE: It's hard to say. I mean, you can throw all three medals up in the air, and whoever jumps the highest is going to grab it. laughs. Because I really think it's that mixed between the U.S., Asia, and Europe. Even Canada. But, there's no one clear-cut winner. And I think that's kind of been proven over the last couple years with different people winning worlds all the time. So, I mean it's pretty much up there for anybody to take.

RE: You've done some coaching with Kimmie Meissner and others. Do you want to work with her more, are you planning on working with her more?

TE: Absolutely. She's still down in Florida (well, I don't know if she's there right now), but she was, and when I get back off tour, absolutely. Hopefully she can get her injuries healed up and get back into training this summer and get ready for next season.

RE: Do you ever want to become someone's main coach and have that responsibility?

TE: I don't know, actually. It's hard to say yes or no right now. Because I'm mostly just involved as a supplement right now. So, it's hard to say. I mean, would I want to be in there, coaching all the time? Maybe. I can't say no. Later on in my career, when I'm not performing as much and not doing as many shows, I think it's something to do. Just to get in and I think I've enjoyed working with Kimmie and I enjoyed working with Mike* a few years ago, a little bit. Different skaters. I think it'd be fun.

RE: If you had the chance to change anything in the code of points, what's the first thing that you would change?

TE: Where to begin? I honestly think that the value, the point values for a lot of the elements that they give are not good...(laughs). The fact that a combination jump as simple as...(and I can't think of all the points right off my head right now) but, a triple lutz/double toe, gets you more points than a triple axel, because there's no comparison how much harder a triple axel is than a triple lutz/double toe. So, in that respect they definitely need to go back and refigure how those things, the different values and the points and how the separation has to be in order to make things like a simpler combination not as many points as something that's much more difficult.

RE: What's your favorite part of Stars on Ice this year?

TE: Wow. Favorite part...I really like the finale. I think it's a fun piece, I think it's a great song, I like the song, but it's just a fun piece of music and it's kind of got a lot of energy. Actually, both Act 1 finale and the finale of the whole show, I think are to me, two of the more fun and exciting numbers.

RE: Have you ever forgotten part of your routine while you were out there, if so, what did you do?

TE: Fortunately, in the show, I haven't done that. However, I did do that in my career competitively a couple of times, and kind of went, what's next? just kind of skate around a little bit and try and go, and hope it comes to you. And it usually comes to you, you go, I got it, I got it...but by then you're usually missing the music anyway and ..whatever. But, it's usually very entertaining because your heart rate goes from like 120 to 250 in like half a second (laughs).

*I forgot to follow up and ask Todd which Mike he worked with in the coaching questions (bad reporting on my part!) I figured it was Weiss for some reason. Does anyone know?