Timothy Goebel

Catching up with Tim Goebel

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Tim Goebel, the “Quad King,” is still keen on figure skating, knowledgeable and opinionated.

It’s been 12 years since he thrilled the home crowd in Salt Lake City, throwing three quadruple jumps in his free skate en route to a bronze medal.

Goebel graduated from Columbia University after he retired in 2006, worked for Nielsen, the ratings company, and is now back in New York City keeping busy on and off the ice.

OlympicTalk recently caught up with Goebel to reflect on his career and the current state of figure skating.

OlympicTalk: What are you doing now?

Goebel: I’m working for an ad agency called MEC, doing consumer analysis. I moved back to New York City in August.

I’m still coaching a little bit, still trying to stay involved in skating. I definitely want to give back to the sport however I can. It did so much to enrich my life. I’m trying to pass that along to the next generation.

OlympicTalk: What did you think of the men’s competition in Sochi?

Goebel: I think with the new format, the team event coming first, I think everyone was at a disadvantage with not having a day off between the short and the long programs. As the performances showed, especially with the men, that’s really critical. No matter how well prepared the athletes are, you need the mental recovery of the day off in between, especially when so many of the top people did the team event first.

I like the idea of the team event, but I think the way it was executed [coming before the individual events] was not necessarily the best for the athletes.

OlympicTalk: Who was your favorite skater to compete against?

Goebel: [Aleksey] Yagudin and [Yevgeny] Plushenko. Really, for the year before Salt Lake City and then into the Olympic year, we were always pretty much grouped right at the top. It was exciting because we pushed each other to be better.

It’s been 12 years since Salt Lake City and people are just now starting to do at the Olympics what we did in 2002. It took a long time for the next generation to implement the quads into the new judging system.

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OlympicTalk: What impresses you the most about Plushenko?

Goebel: The most amazing thing about him is he has been near the top of the sport for so long. It’s really remarkable that he was able to come back and train and compete at 31. There’s no way I could see myself physically be able to train like that. No one from our group would even consider it. Me and Yagudin, there was no way we were coming back.

To be doing the really hard technical stuff for that long is kind of a miracle. I can’t believe he can still do that.

OlympicTalk: Did you ever have thoughts about coming back after you retired in 2006?

Goebel: None at all. When I retired, I knew going into 2006 it was going to be my last competitive season, whatever happened. As much as I really loved competing and loved skating, I knew it was time to go on and do something else. I had always wanted to go back to school. I didn’t want to delay that any longer. I wanted to go and have a normal life, so to speak, after skating.

OlympicTalk: What changes would you like to see in the sport between now and the next Olympics?

Goebel: The biggest thing is the transparency in the judging. I think the anonymous judging — good, bad or indifferent — there’s a perception that there’s something happening behind the scenes. I think transparency is paramount if people are not going to constantly question the results.

Even in Sochi, with the Russian girl [Adelina Sotnikova] winning. Immediately, it was a scandal because it was in Russia, and she hadn’t had the best international season.

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Regan Smith swims another historic backstroke time at Pro Series meet

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Regan Smith, who last summer broke both backstroke world records, put up the fastest 100m back in history outside of a major international meet or trials competition on Saturday.

Smith, a 17-year-old Minnesota high school senior, clocked 58.26 seconds to win at a Pro Series meet in Knoxville, Tenn. It tied for the 12th-fastest time in history. None of the other fastest dozen came in January, six months out from when swimmers peak for the world’s biggest events like the Olympics.

Making it more impressive: Smith did it 27 minutes after finishing second in the 200m butterfly, which she’s also expected to contest at June’s Olympic trials in Omaha.

“It actually wasn’t as bad, as I was nervous it was going to be,” Smith, whose world record is 57.57, said of the double on NBCSN. Smith entered two events per day at the three-day Knoxville meet, in part to prepare for the trials, where she is slated to race six straight days in a bid to make the Olympic team in enough events to swim eight straight days in Tokyo.

On Saturday, Smith held off fellow 17-year-old Phoebe Bacon by six tenths. Bacon beat Smith at the U.S. Open in December, posting the second-fastest time among Americans in the event for 2019.

The teen emergence puts pressure on Kathleen Baker, the Rio Olympic silver medalist who had the world record before Smith took it at worlds.

Full Knoxville results are here. USASwimming.org live streams the last night of finals Sunday at 6:30 ET.

In other events Saturday, world silver medalist Hali Flickinger overcame Smith in the 200m fly, winning in 2:08.34. Smith, third-fastest among Americans last season, was .39 behind. The second-fastest American last year, Katie Drabot, was not in the field. The top two at trials make the Olympic team.

Erika Brown beat world champion Simone Manuel in a freestyle sprint for a second straight meet, taking the 50m free in 24.57 seconds.

Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, edged Manuel by .06 and took .01 off her personal best. Brown ranked third among Americans last year behind Manuel (24.05) and Abbey Weitzeil (24.47).

Brown also defeated Manuel in the 100m free at the U.S. Open in December, moving to fourth-fastest in the U.S. last year in that event. The top six in the 100m free at trials are in line to make the Olympic team, given relay spots.

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Mikaela Shiffrin nearly makes it three-way tie for World Cup win

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Mikaela Shiffrin came .01 shy of making it a three-way tie for a World Cup giant slalom win on Saturday, confirming GS has been the most up-for-grabs discipline for either gender in recent years.

Shiffrin, beaten in her last two slaloms, had the fastest second run to place third behind co-winners Italian Federica Brignone and Slovakian Petra Vlhova in Sestriere, Italy. The reigning Olympic and World Cup champion in the GS rallied from fourth place and .42 behind after the first run.

Shiffrin still leads the World Cup overall standings by 233 points over Vlhova. The American last won Dec. 29. Though she made the podium in three of her four races since, Shiffrin expressed a lack of confidence heading into this weekend’s races at the 2006 Olympic venue.

“The most exciting thing for me is that people have stopped asking me, like, are you unbeatable?” said Shiffrin, who won a record 17 World Cup races last season and has four victories nearly halfway through this season, tied with Vlhova for most on tour. “I feel really good in GS. It’s just been a long time since [the last GS on Dec. 28].”

Vlhova earned her third victory this month after beating Shiffrin those last two slaloms. Brignone leads the GS season standings by 61 points over Shiffrin, seeking to become the sixth different woman to win that discipline title in the last six years. There are four more GS races left this season.

It’s the second straight season with a World Cup GS tie. Last Feb. 1, Shiffrin and Vlhova tied in Maribor, Slovenia.

It’s the first time the top three finishers were separated by such a small margin since the last three-way tie for a win in 2006, when Lindsey VonnMichaela Dorfmeister and Nadia Styger had the same super-G time, and fourth-place Kelly VanderBeek was .01 behind.

“Last season, I had the lucky side of the hundredths many times, so sometimes I’m not going to be on the lucky side, too,” said Shiffrin, who had three victories by .16 or tighter last season.

World Cup racing continues with a parallel giant slalom on Sunday at 5:45 a.m. ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBC Sports Gold.

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