Timothy Goebel's bronze-medal performance at the Salt Lake City Olympics was, according to him, the inevitable conclusion to years of dedication. "The long program was the easiest one I did all year," says the 21-year-old figure skater. "I felt very comfortable and wasn't even that tired at the end."
Goebel, a former Lakewood resident who logged nine years at the city's historic Winterhurst rink, is now part of Champions on Ice, which includes fellow Olympians Michelle Kwan and Sarah Hughes, among others. After the rigors of international competition, this tour is more or less playtime for the skaters. "Since it's just an exhibition, we can have fun," Goebel explains. "We can try different moves and styles of skating. Because if we do make mistakes, it doesn't really count toward anything."
Goebel's accomplishments are impressive, even if we're not sure what they mean: He's the first man to land a quadruple Salchow triple-toe combination; the first person to land three quadruple jumps in the long program in competition; etc. But Goebel's most proud of his recent performances in Nagano, Japan -- where he won a silver medal in the World Championships -- and Salt Lake City. "Any kid who skates dreams of getting a medal at the Olympics," he says.
"I knew for the past few years that I had the potential of winning a medal. But to actually go and win one in that environment is surreal."
Goebel says Champions on Ice allows him to hone his craft, without the arduous training required for competition. "This is sort of a vacation from the grind of being on the ice for four hours a day," he says. "But in a way, it's harder, because for nine months, we're used to training a certain way, and then, suddenly, we're training for less than half of that."
So, now that the quadruple Salchow has been conquered, what's next? "When this tour ends, I'm taking some time off," he says. "And then I start training for next year's [competitions]."