Tiffany Chin, the 1985 national figure skating champion, was the first one out on the ice this morning. Brother and sister Kitty and Peter Carruthers, silver medalists in the pairs at the 1984 Olympics, were there also. Elaine Zayak, former world and national champion, soon joined them.

Most of the participants in the NutraSweet World Professional Figure Skating Championships, which begins at 7 tonight, were at Capital Centre practicing yesterday at 10 a.m. NBC will tape the event for broadcast Jan. 24 and 31 on "SportsWorld."

Chin, 20, decided to turn professional three weeks ago, just three months shy of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. She did so because of a muscle imbalance that made competition on a high international amateur level increasingly doubtful.

Yesterday at Capital Centre, Chin skated alone, deep in concentration.

"In some ways the choreography is more intricate than my amateur routines," said Chin. "It's also more difficult. As an amateur you focus on technical things like jumps. The rest can be pleasant to watch, but it's not as intricate as the things you'll see here tomorrow night. In amateur skating, you focus on just three or four parts of the routine. As a pro, you have to focus on everything. There's not as much time spent skating across the ice doing nothing."

Zayak, accompanied by her mother and boyfriend, stopped frequently during her session to sign autographs. The Carruthers were making a tape for NBC, which may be used during the broadcast. me is the Protopopov's. Ludlima, 52 and Oleg, 55, won their first Olympic title in 1964, when they were in their 30's, which is relatively old when compared to today's teenage champions.

Two years ago the Protopopovs tied for first with an exquisitely choreographed yet simple routine that brought the Capital Centre crowd to its feet.