Michael Weiss Prepares to Defend His Title

by Amy Partain, SKATING magazine editor
Michael Weiss

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(1/8/04) After almost a month on antibiotics, defending U.S. men's champion Michael Weiss said Wednesday at the State Farm U.S. Championships that he is feeling better again.

Recovering from the flu, Weiss had a less than stellar performance at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Colorado Springs in December. But two days after returning home from that event and still not feeling his best, Weiss found out that he was struggling with more than the flu.

"I got back from Colorado Springs on Monday (December 15) and went to the doctor on Wednesday," Weiss said. "He said, 'The good news is that you don't have the flu anymore. The bad news is that you now have walking pneumonia.' It's difficult on your lungs, but this week I'm starting to feel completely healthy again."

Weiss said he finished his last round of antibiotics and feels ready to compete this week. The men's short program is tonight at Philips Arena.

Last year's men's competition was a memorable one - remembered mostly for the incredible problems that plagued the men, especially during the free skate. Weiss moved up from fourth after the short program to first after the free skate to win the 2003 men's title.

"It was a crazy event. All the drama and excitement came out in one event," Weiss said of last year's competition. "But that's what makes figure skating interesting; you never know what's going to happen. You have the favorites all the time, then someone you've never even heard of comes out and wins it all."

Weiss said skaters can't worry about all the craziness that can happen at an event. Instead each skater has to concentrate on their performances and doing what they are here to do.

"This year my job is go out and skate two great programs," Weiss said.

It is his passion for the sport that keeps him going, Weiss said, even though he thought he might retire from eligible skating after the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

"I had to have the mindset at the Olympics that this was going to be it so I didn't give myself another chance," Weiss said. "You know sometimes when you give yourself an out you think, 'Well, there's always the next one,' and I didn't want to give myself that out."

Michael Weiss and wife/choreographer
Lisa Weiss speak to the press.

After the Olympics, Weiss said he realized that he was skating well and started to rethink his decision to leave competitive skating. He said he still had a passion for the sport and felt he was still able to compete on the world level.

"Why go out when you still feel you can do better and you're skating well right now and you still feel there is more to do?" Weiss said. "So that's really what motivated me to continue to skate."

At this point Weiss said he is taking the decision year by year and evaluating where he is competitively. If he still has a desire and passion to skate for the next two years, he said he would like to be back at the Olympics in 2006.