A Different Kind Of Olympic Hopeful

Associated Press

PARIS, FRANCE - For any figure skating coach, watching a student compete during the Olympic season can be nerve-wracking. But try being Malcolm Redgrave of Great Britain, watching not one but three of his four elite students take the ice.

"It can be a bit trying," Redgrave admitted in a teleconference on Saturday. "The Olympics are three months away. By this time, you begin to see everything as a barometer of how your students may perform there."

The students in question are reigning men's world champion Eric Lansing of the United States, ladies' world silver medalist Kay Malloy of Great Britain, and young U.S. hopeful Ryan Williams--who, just last week, won his first senior title with a gold medal at Cup Of Russia. The three have followed Redgrave to Paris to compete in the Trophee Lalique, the fifth of six annual Grand Prix events leading up to the finals in December.

Already an accomplished lot? Yes, says Redgrave with pride--but it's difficult reaching the top, and even harder staying there.

"Kay, Eric and Ryan have worked incredibly," he says. "They have to. The sport is so much harder now than it was in my day, yet to them it's just as routine. They've never failed to give me their best."

Redgrave's "day" was his own competitive career, distinguished by six British titles and two world championships. The one prize that never found a home in his trophy case was an Olympic medal, although he competed twice. And he admits this is all the more reason he hopes to see his students succeed in Salt Lake City: "Coaching a (Olympic) medalist is something of a reincarnation of my own past Olympic dreams."

But if Redgrave has any expectations about the outcome of the Olympics for his skaters, he isn't sharing it.

"A great deal can happen in three months, or just one day. There are so many talented skaters competing now. The future is far from being written."