t wasn't Todd Eldredge's best performance. Nevertheless, it was good enough to earn a berth in the World Championships in March at Vancouver.
The berth did not come easy. He needed a committee vote and had to wait more than an hour after yesterday's competition at the FleetCenter to get the good news.
The competition did not live up to its billing. Even Eldredge was unhappy with his 41/2-minute performance in the long program. But the Chatham native finished second to Tim Goebel and earned one of two tickets to the worlds.
Eldredge still had to wait for a US Figure Skating Association committee to punch that ticket to Vancouver. Association by-laws state: ''The US World Team shall include the current US champion ... The remaining selection shall be based upon the results of the two most recent US Figure Skating Championships, the most recent World Championships, the most recent Four Continents Championships, and all other international events and the current International Committee Ranking System placements.''
While the committee was deliberating, Eldredge, who had skipped nationals the past two seasons, was philosophical about his chances.
''If I'm on the team, that's fine. If I'm not, I'm not,'' said Eldredge, who is bidding to become only the third American to compete in three Olympic figure skating competitions.
He said yesterday's competition was more difficult than the worlds will be.
''There is a lot of pressure in this, more than the worlds, where you win only medals,'' said Eldredge. ''This sets up your whole year.''
There will be additional pressure in Vancouver for Eldredge and Goebel. If the United States is to have three men's skaters in the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Goebel and Eldredge's combined finish must add up to no worse than 13th. Any finish lower will result in the US sending just two skaters.
If Eldredge's Vancouver performance is similar to yesterday's, there will be only two US men at Salt Lake City. Eldredge's troubles began right out of the gate. His attempted quad, his first jump, turned into a triple, and four of his triple jumps turned into much easier doubles.
''After I missed the quad, I tried to come back and get my focus back,'' said Eldredge. But he never really hit it.
If the missed jumps weren't bad enough, he also encountered a costume problem. During his routine, a piece of his apparel snapped off.
''It was a snap that holds my vest to my pants,'' he said. ''When it came off, I changed my routine and skated around it. It's something I usually don't do.''
At that point, Eldredge knew he needed to hit all of his jumps.
''My triple axel and toe was fine,'' he said. ''My triple lutz was fine. I had practiced doing the quad later in the program in case that situation came up. That's what I was going to try and do.''
But he never found a place to slip one in.
After his performance, with defending US champion Michael Weiss and Goebel yet to perform, it looked as if Eldredge would be missing the worlds.
He thought he was out.
''I didn't think they were good enough marks, but they were definitely good enough for what I did,'' said Eldredge. ''Obviously, it didn't go as well as I hoped. Whatever ...
''That's the way it goes. It's kind of disappointing because practice has been going very well. We'll sit and wait and see what happens.''
While Goebel used his jumping ability to land in first, Weiss had a meltdown and tumbled to fifth. That opened the door for Eldredge to slip into second.
''I'm happy to be a part of the team,'' said Eldredge. ''This competition was nerve-wracking. I think we'll do OK. It won't have the same amount of pressure as this event.''