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Thursday, February 14, 2002
Updated: February 15, 3:31 AM ET
 
Goebel ends 10-year skating drought

Associated Press


SALT LAKE CITY -- For a guy who came to the Olympics just to have fun, Timothy Goebel sure is taking home a nice souvenir.

Goebel won the bronze Thursday night, the first U.S. man to win a figure skating Olympic medal since Paul Wylie took the silver in 1992. He also made Olympic history, becoming the first man to land three quadruple jumps in one program.

Timothy Goebel
Timothy "Quad King" Goebel skated his way to the United States' first Olympic skating medal in 10 years.

The crowd gave him a raucous standing ovation when he was introduced for the medals ceremony, and he turned around to acknowledge the entire arena after the medal was placed around his neck, smiling broadly.

"I'm just so excited to be sitting up here with a medal around my neck," Goebel said. "It's great we've got an American man back on the podium. We've got so many great skaters and we sent such a strong team.

"Any of the three of us could have medaled, and I'm really happy it's me."

Todd Eldredge recovered from a disastrous short program to finish sixth. Michael Weiss was seventh.

"I have no regrets," said Eldredge, a six-time U.S. champion. "It is a great feeling. I've been through a lot and trained for a long time. It's great to see all the hard work come together in a good performance."

Goebel, 21, said all along he was in Salt Lake City simply to enjoy the Olympic experience and have fun, and he wasn't going to stress about a medal.

He got exactly what he came for -- and then some. He stayed in the athletes village, only moving to a hotel on Monday night, and has become buddies with some bobsledders and members of the speedskating team.

"I think it made a huge difference," he said of his laid-back attitude. "There's so much external pressure at the Olympics, it's different from anything else."

But if he was nervous, he didn't show it. Not even the standing ovation as he was introduced could rattle him.

While Goebel has the best springs in the world, the knock on him has always been his artistry, that he tightens up when the pressure is on. But he looked positively whimsical in his routine to "An American in Paris."

His happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care attitude would have made Gene Kelly proud. During his footwork, he toyed with the crowd, shrugging his shoulders and grinning coyly.

His jumps were as clean as usual, pulled off with the ease most men do triples. He did three quadruple jumps and his last quad, a salchow, came near the end of the program.

That last quad made Goebel the first man to do three quads in the Olympics, and coach Frank Carroll jumped up and down when he landed it. He's also the first man to do a quad salchow in the Olympics; he did two in the free skate and one in the short program.

"I'm really proud of him," said Carroll, whose guidance has turned the jumper into a true skater. "He made two Olympic records here. ... I was very excited about that and I think it's something he should be very proud of."

Goebel's only real mistake was a small turn after his triple axel, but he saved it without putting his hand down.

The crowd was on its feet 15 seconds before his music finished. As he ended with a flourishing spin, a big smile crossed his face and he pumped his hands in jubilation. Skating to center ice, he blew kisses to the crowd and pumped his fists again.

He then skated off the ice and into a big hug from Carroll.

"I knew I had the potential to be up here," Goebel said. "To actually make it a reality is a whole other thing."