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Bobek Out of Skating Championships

March 24, 1998

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ Nicole Bobek withdrew from the World Figure Skating Championships Tuesday with a lingering injury, apparently ending the Olympic-level career of one of the sport’s most spectacular and spectacularly inconsistent stars.

Officials said Bobek, the third-place finisher at the U.S. nationals in January before a disastrous Olympic performance, aggravated an injury in her left hip flexor while trying to complete a triple lutz during practice in Richmond, Va., on Monday.

Bobek originally injured her hip at the nationals, and it hampered her preparations for the Winter Games, said Heather Linhart, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

The skater, who finished 17th in Nagano after a series of spills, said she was ``very disappointed″ at having to withdraw from the world championships in Minneapolis, which were to have been her last Olympic-style competition. She earlier announced plans to turn pro after the meet.

``Following a disappointing Olympic experience, I had hoped to prove something to the American people and myself,″ said Bobek, the 1995 national champion who also won a world championship bronze medal that year.

Bobek’s withdrawal left the United States with just two skaters in the women’s competition, at least for the time being.

Earlier, Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski withdrew from the worlds because of a viral infection. Her place was taken by Tonia Kwiatkowski, the fourth-place finisher at the nationals who is scheduled to skate for the United States along with Olympic silver medalist and national champion Michelle Kwan.

Linhart said the USFSA was trying to contact the fifth-place finisher at the nationals, Angela Nikodinova, about substituting for Bobek, but had been unable to reach her. Any substitute must be made before women’s qualifying begins March 31.

Bobek was skating’s wild child as a teen-ager, going through a string of coaches. She hated practice and flouted training rules.

Then, after the Lillehammer Games in 1994, she teamed with Carlo Fassi, and something about the legendary coach struck a chord. She won the national title under Fassi, then suffered an emotional letdown when her coach died on the eve of the 1997 world championships.

She stayed with Christa Fassi, Carlo’s wife, as coach and skated well. But she was then up against Lipinski and Kwan, who have won the last two world championships.

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