Behind the scenes of figure skating - June 12

Things are adding up for Timothy Goebel

Goebel sports a mohowak at this year's Figure Skating in Harlem event in New York's Central Park.
Goebel sports a mohowak at this year's Figure Skating in Harlem event in New York's Central Park. (Getty Images)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(06/12/2008) - During his competitive days, Timothy Goebel was good at executing things with multiple dynamics. The 2001 U.S. men's champion, two-time world silver medalist, and 2002 Olympic bronze medalist was the first U.S. man to successfully land a quadruple jump in competition. He was also the first skater in the world to land a quadruple Salchow and the first to execute three quadruple jumps in a program. Over the course of his career he successfully landed 76 quads in competition.

Today, two years after closing the door on his skating career, Goebel, 27, is pursuing a math major and a psychology concentration at Columbia University School of General Studies in New York City. After he completes a 12-week course in linear algebra this summer, he'll be halfway through his math credits.

"I'm done with the calculus series. I did differential equations. I have to take two theory classes, then analysis and number theory, then two semesters of abstract algebra," he says. He's also been taking classes in the humanities, language and psychology. He readily admits it was a challenge to get into the groove of college, but he eased himself in by not loading on the courses freshman year.

"It was an adjustment," Goebel says. "Now I have figured out how to prepare for exams without having to cram 24/7. This past semester I feel I had a good way of approaching it. It took a while, but I'm getting it. I'm halfway to graduation."

He says he's thrilled to be in college and even more thrilled to be living in New York, which he's actually able to enjoy a little more than the average college student thanks to money saved during his skating career. Goebel says he has absolutely no regrets about moving on with his life.

"Everything happened the way it was supposed to," he says. "I'm happy to be in school. It's going well. I'm still involved in skating by doing some coaching. I'm going to be a technical specialist at a few competitions this summer. So I'm still in the sport, but just enough."

What Goebel feels enabled him to make the transition was the fact he accomplished virtually everything he set out to do when he took up the sport. "Having been an Olympic and world medalist and having accomplished so much jump-wise, setting a few records, I felt I had completed everything in my career that I had always dreamed of," he notes. "Obviously, I would have liked to go back to a second Olympics, but being on the podium wasn't really a reality, because I'd been injured a lot. Having that feeling of completing all of my goals made it a lot easier to move on."

Perhaps due to his diligent training of quad jumps, Goebel was plagued by injury for nearly a decade; something he says was probably to his advantage in the long run. Because he had to cope with various problems, he became conscientious about doing physical therapy and seeing a chiropractor and acupuncturist. His hips still hurt a bit, but overall he's in pretty good condition.

During the school year, he coaches a few hours a week for Figure Skating in Harlem and one day a week at the Westchester Skating Academy in Elmsford, New York. This summer he's coaching in Elmsford four days a week, helping young skaters with jumps, spins, footwork and other requirements of the international judging system.

"It's really beneficial for me to have that certification," he says. "It's helped the kids and helped the coaches. The IJS is really complicated and kind of hard to negotiate. It's good to have different inputs."

When there's downtime at the rink, Goebel will spend some time running through a few triple jumps, but finds he's pretty achy afterwards.

He recently visited Los Angeles, where he lived and trained for several years, to help longtime friend Angela Nikodinov celebrate her birthday. While they, he also reconnected with Amber Corwin and Derrick Delmore.

Then it was back to the Big Apple. Although he drives to the rink, for the most part Goebel is a true New Yorker when it comes to getting around. "I love being able to walk or take the subway everywhere," he says. "I hate to drive."