Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Meissner Coach Hops

A week ago, I suggested that the best chance for figure skater Kimmie Meissner to make a quick fix of her jumping problems would be to work with coach Richard Callaghan.

Guess what Meissner announced she was doing?

I didn't know I had that kind of power," I told Callaghan when we spoke Monday.

"I guess you do," he said, laughing.

Thus emboldened, I sent this text message to Meissner's agent, Yuki Saegusa of IMG:

"Do I get a finder's fee?"

Saegusa played along.

"If she wins worlds, we can talk," the agent replied.

Seriously, Meissner's decision to leave longtime coach Pam Gregory was a sign she had realized what I had written in December: that her career is at a crossroads.

"I needed to make some changes in order to regain my focus and confidence," Meiss- ner said in a Monday statement.

She has been up and down at best since winning the 2006 world title, showing consistency only in the worst of ways at her last two competitions: Meissner fell three times in the free skate at both the Grand Prix Final and U.S. Championships.

She has gone from U.S. champion to seventh in a year. Meissner got one of the three U.S. women's spots for the March 18-23 world meet in Sweden only because three skaters who finished above her are too young, and a fourth is too inexperienced.

Callaghan, who has coached skaters to Olympic gold, three world titles and eight U.S. titles, has observed Meissner's problems from a distance. He said they spoke about a collaboration only after nationals.

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