Second Silver Disappoints Orser

by Steve Woodard

USA Today

CALGARY- Thunderous echoes of stamping feet filed the Olympic Saddledome when Brian Orser, silver medalist, was introduced to thousands of fellow Canadians.

But Orser, 26, could not share their enthusiasm. He had yielded the Olympic men's figure skating title Saturday night to the USA's Brian Boitano.

The scene was familiar.

"Many have said that I should have won the gold in 1984, but I didn't," said Orser, runner-up to USA Olympian Scott hamilton four years ago. "I was waiting until '88. It's disappointing. It's not the same. In 1984, I was thrilled."

Orser, narrowly trailing Boitano before the long program, was considered a heacy favorite to win the title. Many anticipated a supportive Canadian crowd. But few anticipated that Orser would land awkwardly while executing a triple flip jump 90 seconds into his 4 1/2 minute program.

"That's what costs me,"he said, "But when I finished skating I was pleased. I felt I had done it."

Five members of the nine-judge panel disagreed. A two judge swing was crrucial. Both gave Boitano marks of 5.9 for technical merit, while Orser recieved 5.8s. Two-tenths of a point denied Orser the prize he had envisioned for years.

Early last week,Orser said he thought he was in 'perfect position' and that his programs had been refined to 'an absolute peak." He talked about being prepared to handle 'any obstacle' after working with Dr. Peter Jensen, a sports psychologist.

"I felt like (Orser) was saying that to convince himself," said Sandra Bezic, Boitano's choreographer.

Saturday's development did not detthrone Orser as skating's world champion. In fact, he and Boitano will soon be returning to the practice rink. The 1988 World Championships are next month in Budapest, Hungary.

"Now I've got to focus on Budapest," Orser said. "I've got a world title to defend."

Given the tremendous built up to the Orser-Boiano Olympics showdown, it is difficult to imagine that a similar drama will emerge at the World Champioships.

"This was one of the finest nights of skating in history," aid Orser's coach, Doug Leigh.

But it mightbe a while until Orser shares Leigh's assessment. "I didn't win a gold medal in Canada at the Olympic Games," said Orser, who wept as he stepped atop the podium Saturday. "That's what I came here to do, and that didn't happen."