Profile - USA Today

Boitano: Skating Innovator

by Steve Woodard

Brian Boitano' preperation for the '88 Olympic Games began with a visit to figure skating coach Linda Leaver - 16 years ago.

Together they have built one of the sport's most enduring and successful partnerships. It has produced a world title (1986) and four consecutive USA titles, including the one Boitano won last month.

At the Olympics, Boitano, 24, is considered a top gold medal contender along iht reigning world champion Brian Orser of Canada.

Boitano is among the innovators of figure skating in the 1980's, and one o the only skaters in the world to have attempted the quadruple toe loop jump. Part of the credit goes to Leaver, whose coaching philosophy is rooted in the simple approach: "If you don't try it, you can't get it."

Confidence is one of Boitano's assets. That, too, has taken time.

"In 1982, I wasn't at the top yet, but I wasn't in the middle anymore," says Boitano, who lives in San Francisco. "They were considering me as someone who would be a great skater someday. But someday is a scary word. maybe it's never."

Other than skating, one of Boitano's obsessions is coffee. "I'm a coffee-holic. I think most skaters are. I was up to eight cups a day once, and after about three days of that, you usually lose a night's sleep. But I love it."