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Todd Eldredge spends the summer coaching

Olympian has taken several skaters, including Kimberly Meissner, under his wing

Todd Eldredge will perform in Smucker's presents "Hot Ice, Cool Sounds," set for Oct. 18 in Youngstown, Ohio.
Todd Eldredge will perform in Smucker's presents "Hot Ice, Cool Sounds," set for Oct. 18 in Youngstown, Ohio. (Getty Images)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(07/09/2008) - Three-time Olympian Todd Eldredge is spending his summer coaching, and he is enjoying every minute of it.

"The funny thing is I used to think, 'I don't want to be a coach,'" says six-time U.S. men's champion, world champion and three-time Olympian Todd Eldredge, who is at Incredible Ice in Coral Springs, Florida, working with 2006 world champion, 2007 U.S. champion Kimberly Meissner, as well as a bunch of kids.

"They're fun to work with because most of the younger kids will try anything," says Eldredge, 36. "They have neat personalities. You see their excitement when they work with you and all of a sudden they land their double Axel or double flip or their single toe for the first time. They light up in their faces like, 'Wow, I did it! That's really cool.' It's neat to see."

He's helping coach Richard Callaghan get Meissner's career back on track. "Trying to get her to come out of her shell a little bit," Eldredge says. "Get her consistent on her jumps. Get her spins better. Get her footwork better.

"Right now, I'm trying to get her to use her knees a lot when she's skating. She skates a little bit stiff in her knees. If she were able to get down in her knees a little bit it would look nice and help her posture. I'm working on little nit-picky things. Obviously, she's a world champion, so she's good. But it's the little nit-picky things that you try to pick up and improve on to make her that much better."

Another valuable thing Eldredge can help Meissner with is rediscovering her inspiration to compete. After initial success as a teenager, injury and uncertainty kept Eldredge out of the U.S. medal hunt for three years. His win at the 1995 nationals was the first time a skater had reclaimed the title after three years off of the podium.

Although he was on tour with Stars on Ice at the time, he flew to Florida for a few days before Meissner went to worlds this past March to help Callaghan with her preparations.

"I let her know, [bad performances] happen to people, it's not a big deal," Eldredge says. "You move on and figure out if it's still what you want to do. If it is and you're motivated, enjoy it, do the best that you can and go for it. That's what she did. If she is enjoying it, she's going to put the blood, sweat and tears into the hard work."

Each day, they work toward improving something.

In the land of great golf courses, golf fanatic Eldredge hasn't had much time to play. He teaches in the mornings and mid-afternoons and the rest of the day it seems to rain. "I'm in the sunshine state, which is not so sunshiny," he says. Hopefully, he'll find time soon, as he's participating in the Jimmy V Classic charity golf tournament next month.

Eldredge is also spending time coping with some injuries. Three years ago, he had surgery on his left ankle, and recently he's been nursing his right ankle after developing tendinitis. He recently connected with the trainer for the Florida Panthers hockey team and is now starting physical therapy. He occasionally tries triple loops, which take off and land on the left foot, just to make sure he's still got it.

He's hoping to sign for another season of Stars on Ice. "I'd like to be a part of it as long as my body holds up and I can do it," he says. The artistic demands of Stars on Ice have made Eldredge passionate about performing.

"It would be fun to put on my own show somewhere at some point -- whether it be a charity situation or just a fun show," he says. "Learn that side of the business a little bit more."

It appears the rest of his summer will involve coaching, physical therapy and golfing. Come autumn, it will likely be back to performing, but the coaching work will continue, as he said he's hoping to be at Skate America with Meissner.