SPORTS NOTEBOOK

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Yesterday, the World; Tonight, Boston

IN figure skating's current environment, there's no rest for the wondrous. Newly crowned world champions Michelle Kwan and Todd Eldredge (the first American duo to capture both golds since Debi Thomas and Brian Boitano in 1986) are already back on the ice, competing in the Hershey's Kisses Figure Skating Challenge just days after winning world titles in Edmonton, Alberta.

For Eldredge, skating this Boston event has several attractions: He can skate before friends and family whom he seldom sees. It's also ''a relaxing event compared to worlds,'' where he can mix with other top skaters in a fun, financially rewarding competition, he said in a teleconference after his win. (A skater always has to consider how to pay training expenses, especially Eldredge, a fisherman's son.)

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By Friday, Eldredge hopes to have squeezed in a one-day home visit to Chatham, Mass., before beginning the 1996 Tour of World Figure Skating Champions in Orlando, Fla.

The Challenge, which ends tonight at Northeastern University, is a two-night, pro-amateur team event. It includes skaters who have kept themselves eligible for the 1998 Winter Olympics, such as Eldredge, Kwan, and world bronze medalist Rudy Galindo, as well as those who are ineligible or professional (Paul Wylie and Rosalynn Sumners, to name two).

Eldredge made a major commitment to pursue skating 14 years ago when he left his Cape Cod home to train with coach Richard Callaghan, who moved from Pennsylvania to Colorado, California, and Michigan.

Although he was No. 3 in the world in 1991, Eldredge finished 10th at the 1992 Olympics and failed to make the '94 US Olympic team. Then last year he became the first male skater ever to win the US crown after being absent from the medal stand three straight years. In January he faltered at the nationals, finishing second to Galindo, but put it all together in Edmonton.

The fourth-place finisher last year of Torrance, Calif., became the third 15-year-old skater ever to capture the women's world title. The others were Sonja Henie (1927) and Oksana Baiul (1993). Kwan added a wealth of polish, poise, and sophistication since then and needed it to hold off defending champion Lu Chen of China.

Touching other bases

Pop quiz: Fort Hays State, the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II men's basketball champion, is this season's only unbeaten team. Fort Hays is in what state? (Answer below.)

The college baseball season is weeks, even months, old - at least for some eager warm-weather teams. Schools are at liberty to open the baseball season whenever they want, but no team in the NCAA can play more than 56 regular-season games.

Quiz answer: Kansas.

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