John Misha Petkevich was all but mathematically eliminated from a shot at the world men; figure skating championship yesterday at Lyons, France. as Ondrej Nepala of Czechoslovakia and Patrick Pera of Lyons battled it out for first.
Petkevich, the initial favorite in the event, was fifth an the first half of the championships-the compulsory school figures-came to an end last night.
The free skating, which is Petkevich's forte, will be finished tonight and counts for half of the results. However. Petkevich is so far behind that it will take a tremendous performance tonight to even finish as high as third.
Petkevich is 105.6 points behind Nepala. whose specialty is the compulsory figures. For Petkevich to win. each of the seven judges would have to give him 5.9's or perfect 6.0's and Nepala 5,6's in both the technical and artistic ?spcets of the free skating. This is considered impossible.
S???? "Chet the Jet" Chetverhin of Russia is currently in third place and 15-year-old Jan Hoffman of East Germany is in fourth. Petkevich currently trails these two by 54,4 and 21.8 points respectively. Last night he said that he could possibly snatch third place.
Petkevich is generally considered the most exciting free skater in the world, Last year he finished second to champion Tim Wood in the event and heat Nepala, the three-?me European titleholder.
Petkevich has criticized some of the judges-especially the East Europenas who dominate the panel. "It's a political thing, but you can only guess that," he said Tuesday. "And now is not the best time to ask me to guess."
Petkevich has been hampered by an ankle injury sustained in the Nationals, and the jumps in his free skating program will probably irritate it.