Copyright 1998 Plain Dealer Publishing Co. The Plain Dealer View Related Topics October 30, 1998 Friday, FINAL / ALL SECTION: SPORTS; Pg. 5D LENGTH: 501 words HEADLINE: BOBECK WILL WAIT BEFORE GOING PRO BYLINE: AMY ROSEWATER DATELINE: DETROIT BODY: Nicole Bobek considers her status as an Olympian an honor she will always remember. It's just the Olympics she'd like to forget. Bobek, who struggled through a 17th-place finish in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, in February, is trying to put that experience behind her tonight as she approaches Skate America in Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. Skate America marks Bobek's first major competition since Nagano. The fact that Bobek opted to return to amateur-style competition at all is impressive. Bobek is one of the more popular American skaters, and she could have left the pressures of Grand Prix events, nationals and worlds in favor of a lucrative career touring and competing in pro-style events. Yet she ultimately decided to give the eligible circuit another go and has hopes of winning back the national title she earned in 1995. Thoughts of training for the 2002 Olympics have even entered her mind. Bobek would be 24 at the Salt Lake City Olympics. "It was very hard," said Bobek of the Nagano Games. "And I do have to say the thought [of turning professional] was there. But the way I look at it, I've done this for 17 years of my life, and at least I'm going to finish my amateur career on a good note. "I don't think about [Japan] all the time," she added. "There's no need to dwell on the past. If I dwelled on the past, I think I'd go berserk." Following Nagano, Bobek left Lake Arrowhead, Calif., and her coach Christa Fassi and began training in Skate Nation in Richmond, Va. She now lives in Detroit during the week and trains with Richard Callaghan, who coached her to a national title and a world bronze medal in 1995. She spends weekends in Richmond. Bobek, whose dedication to training has always been suspect, returned to Callaghan in part because he is one of the most demanding coaches around. Although Bobek's second tour in Detroit is working out well for the most part, not everything has been smooth. While practicing some footwork recently, Bobek tripped and crashed head first into the boards and suffered a concussion. She was hospitalized, but resumed training a couple of days later. Bobek said she has had some trouble with spins since. WILL THE SHOW GO ON? - Five-time national champion Todd Eldredge lives and trains in Detroit so he wanted to perform Sunday in Skate America's exhibition. Typically, exhibitions feature the medal winners, but Eldredge is not entered in Skate America. That's why International Skating Union President Ottavio Cinquanta said Eldredge cannot participate in the exhibition. "I got a letter from [Cinquanta] that said he wasn't too keen on me doing an exhibition and not being in the competition," said Eldredge. "To me, it's a totally separate thing." One problem for Skate America promoters is they have run newspaper advertisements saying Eldredge would perform in the exhibition. ... Olympic gold-medalist Tara Lipinski, who trained in Detroit, was a spectator last night for the pairs' and men's competition.