Over and over, Michael Weiss had visions of how this week would turn out.
He had played it out so many times in his mind.
Never had he envisioned it ending the way it actually did last night.
The Washington area native managed six triples -- one of which was supposed to be a quadruple -- and failed to land a clean triple axel.
So instead of winning a world title as he had imagined in his hypnosis sessions leading up to these championships, Weiss wound up in fifth place.
"It was tough," said Weiss, of McLean. "I felt so good. I don't know what happened. Sometimes, it goes your way, sometimes, it doesn't."
Then he shook his head, offering a puzzled look and said, "This week had gone so well for me."
Weiss came to these championships as the sentimental favorite, competing in front of a hometown crowd at MCI Center. He came as national champion, but he won the title more because others had faltered rather than performing like a winner. Still, it was his third U.S. crown and therefore he had to be considered among the medal favorites. Some even speculated that he might be a contender for the gold.
All of which begged this question: Was the pressure of being the hometown favorite too much?
"If it had, it would have shown up earlier," he said.
Leading up to these championships, Weiss had several sessions working with a sports psychologist who specializes in hypnosis. In those sessions, Weiss had been trained to believe that he could win. A two-time world bronze medalist, Weiss wanted nothing less.
He was so confident in his training that he told reporters that he had already booked a limousine to celebrate in Atlantic City.
Not only did he not win the gold medal, but he lost out financially as well. The champion, Evgeny Plushenko, earned $55,000 for his victory. Weiss, meantime, made $8,250.
"It's a disappointment and I'm very disappointed for him, not for me," said Don Laws, Weiss's coach since late October. "This wasn't in my mind."
Weiss had skated well enough in the qualifying round to win his group and was en route to a strong showing in his short program when he landed a quad and a triple axel, but he fell on a simple triple lutz.
Then came the free skate last night when he trimmed his opening quad attempt into a triple and stumbled out of his second quad. One of his triple axels was wild and the other was converted into a double. His technical marks ranged from 5.2 to 5.5 and his artistic scores were 5.3 to 5.8.
As disappointed as he was, Weiss vowed that his career would not end on this note.
Said Weiss: "I'll keep on swinging."