Patrick, Rebecca

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wintertime will be busier than usual for Michael Weiss, who will skate as a guest star with the Smucker’s Stars on Ice tour.

The three-time U.S. men’s champion and two-time World bronze medallist will appear in 16 consecutive Stars on Ice stops beginning Feb. 4 and ending March 2.

“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity with Stars. In the future, when my eligible career is over, hopefully I can be a part of the cast full-time and do the group numbers that the show is known for,” Weiss enthused.

The 28-year-old’s stint with the tour fits nicely between U.S. Nationals and the World championships. “It was really important that I have three full weeks off after Stars to train at home before Worlds,” he explained.

Weiss’s season begins with three Grand Prix events: Skate America in Pittsburgh, NHK Trophy in Japan and the Cup of China. He said that skating under the new Code of Points scoring system last year in the Grand Prix series was a relatively easy transition, but he plans to take better advantage of the scoring levels in 2004-05.

“The one challenge is getting the spins and footwork sequences to the most difficult level possible. That’s where I’ve focused most of my energy,” he noted. “Particularly, I’ve worked on having change of position and edge in my spins.”

For his competitive programs, Weiss is sticking with last year’s Henry V movie soundtrack for his short, while he will be rocking to a Led Zeppelin medley – including “Stairway to Heaven” and the drum solo “Bonzo’s Montreaux” – for his long. While he is planning on incorporating a quad toe jump and quad Lutz jump into this season’s performances, that could vary based on the difficulty of the jumps his challengers complete ahead of him in each competition.

“Under the new judging system it makes more sense to skate strategically, and sometimes that means skating cleanly but not doing a quad,” Weiss explained. “If other people make mistakes, it doesn’t make near as much sense to take that risk and attempt the quad.”

Weiss, who is committed to staying on the eligible skating scene through the 2006 Winter Olympics, is straightforward about his goals for the year. “They’re pretty much the same as always – to skate good, solid programs and enjoy myself, and win U.S. Nationals and medal at the World championships,” he stated. “However, the most important thing to me is that I still like competing and being competitive; that’s my major motivation.”

Weiss’s passion for his sport led him last year to start his own nonprofit foundation for up-and-coming Olympic-eligible skaters. In its inaugural effort, the Michael Weiss Foundation awarded three levels of financial support, totaling over $9,000. At press time, Weiss was busy working to increase these award amounts through auctions, skating events and autograph signings. The 2005 scholarships will be awarded in the spring. – REBECCA PATRICK

Copyright Ashton International Media, Inc. Dec 2004

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