Brian Boitano

Newsweek February 15, 1988


The men's figure skating at Calgary could turn out to be a battle fo the Brians. Orser a Canadian known for his artistic elegance, has brought in a psychologist to help him concentrate on his once overlooked tecchnique. Brian Boitano, 24, a reformed roller skater from Sunnyvale, California, has countered his rival's sports shrink with a choreographer, who is suppose to mke him less of a self-confessed "technical robot." Instead of cold, contemporary rock and roll, the muscular Boitanowill skate to Meyerbeer's ballet "Les Patineurs" and rousing military music from the 1927 movie "Napoleon"; instead of bowling-league satins, he'll be doning billowing, 18th century garb. Orser, 26, looms as a slight ffavorite. But Boitano, the U.S. champion four years running and the world titleholder in '86, just may out-elegance the current world champon the competitions's final day. "My programs are now so artistic," he has said, "that people will think it's a different person out there."

The real question with Boitano is not whether he'll be breathing down Orser's sequined vest, but whether, in true romantic fashion, he'll attempt too much, and flirt wih disaster. In 1982 Boitano shocked the skating world by becoming the first competitor ever to perform a triple axel in the U.S. nationals. Now he has his sights set on the quadruple toe loop- four revolutions from a backward take off, a Loch Ness monster of a move that has been much discussed but never actually completed in competition> Will Boitano use the Olympic stage to attempt a quad toe loop? His coach of 16 years, Linda Leaver, will say only that while Boitano is not inclined to take the risk, "the option is never closed off."