Tag Archive for: Elvis Stojko

Elvis Stojko named as Athlete Ambassador for Skate Canada International

TORONTO, ON: Three-time World Champion Elvis Stojko, 44, of Richmond Hill, Ontario is returning to the ice, but this time as the 2016 Skate Canada International Athlete Ambassador. Representing his fellow athletes, Stojko will lend his engaging personality and time to public appearances, media interviews and in-venue fan activities.

The 2016 Skate Canada International will take place in Mississauga, Ont., from October 27-30, 2016 at the Hershey Centre. The event is the second competition in the annual ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series.

As an athlete Stojko has competed at Skate Canada International eight times. Medaling at all of his appearances, winning five gold and three silver medals.

“I am thrilled to be back at Skate Canada International. This event holds many memories for me and I’m looking forward to reflecting on my time as a skater, while supporting the competing athletes. I know firsthand the pressure these skaters are under and I’m happy to be able to advocate for them through my role as athlete ambassador,” said Stojko.

Stojko first joined the Skate Canada National Team in 1990 and went on to become one of Canada’s most successful skaters. He is a three-time World Champion, two-time Olympic silver medallist and seven-time Canadian Champion.

He was also the first to perform a quadruple combination jump (quadruple-toe/double-toe) in competition, at the 1991 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Munich, Germany, and he was also the first to do a quadruple-toe/triple-toe loop combination, in the free program of the 1997 ISU Champions Series Final in Hamilton, Ontario.

Stojko will act as the Athlete Ambassador over the course of the four-day event in Mississauga.

EVENT INFO
Skate Canada International is the second competition in the annual ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series. The other events take place in the United States (Skate America), Russia (Rostelecom Cup), France (Trophée Eric Bompard), China (Cup of China) and Japan (NHK Trophy).

Each skater/team can be assigned a maximum of two events. Skaters are awarded points based on their placements at their events. The top six from each discipline (men’s, ladies, pair and ice dance) qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final to be held in Marseille, France from December 8-11, 2016.

TICKET INFORMATION

Single event tickets range from $35-$60, plus applicable surcharges. Tickets can be purchased online at ticketmaster.ca, or by phone at 1-855-985-5000.

Elvis Stojko and young Skate Canada skaters set for TV movie debut in “Ice Girls”

Elvis Stojko’s leading role in Ice Girls is a classic case of life imitating art.

The three-time world champion makes his movie debut in Ice Girls, playing a rink manager and – you guessed it – former figure skater named Mercury who takes a young, new-to-town skater under his wing.

Ice Girls, which also stars Natasha Henstridge (The Whole Nine Yards) and young Canadian skaters Michaela Du Toit and Taylor Hunsley, debuts on Family Channel on Friday, March 11 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Filmed in Sudbury, Ont., the movie’s plot revolves around the strong bond formed between aspiring figure skating star Mattie Dane (Du Toit) and Mercury (Stojko).

Mattie injures herself in a fall during a competition and struggles to regain her confidence after her skating dreams are shattered. Things take a turn for the worse when her mother loses her job and the family is forced to move to a small northern Ontario city, where Mattie struggles to find her place in unfamiliar surroundings.

As she tries to fit in, Mattie finds escape at the local arena, but another talented skater (Hunsley) and her overly-competitive mother (Henstridge) remind the newcomer there isn’t room at the top for both of them. Seeing the potential in the skater, Mercury begins to mentor Mattie, much like in real life when Stojko works with young Skate Canada athletes.

“It really was an awesome experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” says Stojko. “The character fit well with my personality. There are so many aspects within Mercury that are already in my life. It felt comfortable because, in some ways, it was like walking in my own shoes.”

While Ice Girls marks his maiden movie role, this isn’t Stojko’s first acting gig. In his Broadway debut a couple of years ago, Stojko played smooth-talking, manipulative lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago: The Musical.

“This is the direction I’ve wanted to go for a long time,” says Stojko of his acting career. “I love acting and working with guys like (acting coach) Brad Milne. It’s been building these last couple of years for me, so hopefully I can keep that momentum going for the next project. I’ll just keep working and honing my craft.”

Both Du Toit, and Hunsley have compiled impressive skating resumes early in their careers.

Hunsley, the 2009 Canadian juvenile women’s champion, also finished tenth at the 2015 Skate Canada Challenge to qualify for the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. Du Toit, who skates out of the Richmond Hill Skating Club but represents South Africa internationally, competed in the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in February and was pre-novice silver medallist at 2013 Skate Canada Challenge.

In her first leading role, Du Toit admits she was nervous starring with Stojko as shooting began, but the two connected with their roles almost immediately. Even when the cameras weren’t rolling, Stojko took some to work with Du Toit on technical elements for upcoming real-life competitions.

“It was just amazing working with the entire cast, and especially Elvis,” says Du Toit. “I was so excited when I heard he was in movie. On set he was just a great mentor. He is just an amazing person.”

Olympic and world ice dance champion Tessa Virtue, who recently announced with partner Scott Moir that they will return to the competitive ranks next season, also has a cameo in the movie.

Scenes were shot at three Sudbury arenas – Walden, Cambrian and Countryside. Young skaters from seven local skating clubs were brought in as extras.

“The skaters were so thrilled to be involved in the movie,” says Lisa Burton, a coach with the Chelmsford Skating Club. “It was an extremely positive experience for all of them, and the crew and everyone associated with the film were great. It was quite special for all of them.”

Sudbury was the city where a young Stojko first made his mark on the Canadian skating scene by finishing second to Kurt Browning at the 1990 Canadian championships. It was an early look at the greatness that would follow, as Stojko would go on to win three world titles between 1994 and 1997.

“Every time I go to Sudbury, it always brings back memories,” says Stojko. “ I have lots of memories from up there. The community was so supportive, and it was a lot of fun to be back.”

Du Toit says the story is one of perseverance, dedication and friendship and epitomizes the strength of the human spirit as her character battles back from odds so stacked against her.

“There are a lot of life lessons in the movie”, says Du Toit. “It’s about not giving up on your dreams no matter how hard things get.

“It may look kind of cloudy right now, but if you persevere, you will get there.”

Photos courtesy Family Channel

Twenty-six years after “epic moment”, Elvis Stojko returns to Halifax as Athlete Ambassador

Photos : Gladys Orozco

Elvis Stojko can’t believe it’s been that long.

It’s been more than a quarter-century since Stojko introduced himself to the world in Halifax, NS, and the three-time world champion wonders where the time has gone.

This week, Stojko returns to the picturesque Maritime city, serving as the official Athlete Ambassador for the 102nd edition of the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. In the role, Stojko will handle speaking engagements, media interviews and in-venue activations and, as always, make a little time for competing athletes and his legion of fans.

Stojko will always hold a soft spot in his heart for Halifax, host city of the 1990 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. A fresh-faced youngster still a couple of weeks shy of his 18th birthday, Stojko, fresh off a silver medal performance at the national championships in Sudbury, Ont., arrived in Nova Scotia primed for his first senior worlds.

That week in Halifax, the world was introduced to 17-year-old Elvis Stojko. When he left town, Kurt Browning had racked up his second of three straight world titles, and Stojko was a very respectable ninth

“Halifax – wow, what a week that was,” says Stojko with a laugh. “It was a dream week for me, just an amazing experience. There is no doubt it was a turning point for my career.

“I’ll never forget it. The place was sold out, the fans were just packed in there, and they were going ballistic (for the free program). It was just one of those epic moments.”

“I’ll never forget, the previous year at junior worlds, I was eighth overall. Suddenly, here I was, skating against Kurt, and Viktor Petrenko, and Todd Eldridge – guys I always watched on TV – and I was ninth best in the world, and sixth in the long (program). It was pretty surreal. Everything just kind of snowballed after Halifax. It just kept building and I never really looked back.”

After leaving Halifax. Stojko set off on a gradual climb to the top of the skating world. At the 1991 world championships, he became the first skater to land the quad-double jump combination. The following year, he took home his first world medal with a bronze and followed that up with a silver in 1993.

In 1994, Stojko made it to the top of the skating mountain, winning his first of three world titles over a four-year span.

For good measure, Stojko also became the first skater to complete a quad/triple combination at the 1997 Champions Series Final in Hamilton, Ont.

In addition to his three world titles and seven Canadian senior crowns, Stojko has a pair of Olympic silver medals in his trophy case (1994, 1998).

It was after his second Olympic silver in Nagano – where he skated with a painful groin injury – that Stojko hit tough times. Over the next few years, Stojko admits he fell into a long stretch of depression. Needing a break, Stojko went to visit a friend in Mexico in 2001.

It was what he needed: a chance to relax, escape the merciless Canadian winters and get a little privacy.

He ended up buying an apartment on the spot.

In 2009, he met Gladys Orozco, a former Mexican figure skating champion, while at a skating competition. Stojko and Orozco were married in Las Vegas a year later. The couple lived in Ajijic, a stunning village about an hour from Guadalajara.

But eventually, Canada called him home.

“I never really left,” he says of the return to Canada. “Sure, I was living in Mexico, but I have always been a Canadian. That never changed.

“It was time to come home.”

Since touching down back in Canada, Stojko has been working with Skate Canada, taking young skaters under his wing with on-ice training and mental preparation. Stojko, a martial arts expert, has also given kung fu lessons to his young charges.

Elvis Stojko trains young skaters.

In his limited spare time, Stojko continues to skate in shows while chasing another of his passions: professional kart racing at the national and international level. Stojko also recently dipped his toe in the Broadway show pond, starring as manipulative lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago: The Musical.

Despite his busy schedule, Stojko is focused on giving back to a sport that has given him so much.

As he was coming up through the ranks as a youngster, Stojko says he often turned to 1987 world champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist Brian Orser for advice.
Stojko has never forgotten that Orser always seemed to find time for him, and he plans on paying it forward.

“If I can help guide them and get them pointed in the right direction, and teach them some of what I have learned, well, that’s what it’s all about. Giving something back.”

“I was fortunate enough to have others I could go to, guys like Brian, who were busy with their own careers but always took time to help out,” adds Stojko.

“These kids today are going to have their own hurdles. It can be a daunting process. You worry about what people think, you want to please everyone.

“If I can help guide them and get them pointed in the right direction, and teach them some of what I have learned, well, that’s what it’s all about. Giving something back.”

And as Stojko gets set to arrive in Halifax in his Athlete Ambassador role, the memories of 1990 are sure to come flooding back.

His advice for those competing this week at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships?

“It sounds cliché, but just embrace the moment,” says Stojko.

“These kids are the best in Canada. They are here for a reason. A few of them are going to have a magical week, but some will not. For a lot of these kids, this week is going to be a learning experience. You learn, you adapt and you come back stronger.

“Just go for it. This is your chance. Don’t hold anything back.”

And who knows. Perhaps a few skaters will be leaving Halifax with memories of their own.

Stojko Returns to Canada Healed and Ready to Help

Elvis Stojko is back.

Mexico is in his rear-view mirror and so are the tangerine and papaya trees of Ajijic, where he lived for 12 years.

He’s come home to Canada a happy man, married to Gladys Orozco for five years, and a career that now takes him in multiple directions: skating, race car driving, acting, singing. And he’s tying himself again to Skate Canada, on board to conduct some seminars for developing skaters and donating some proceeds from the sale of his new wine, Quad, to the association.

Three-time world champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist Elvis Stojko has much to offer budding skating stars, including his warrior attitude during competition. Stojko was the ultimate competitor, never backing down from a challenge. And at no time was that mindset more tested than at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, when he skated with a groin injury.

Stojko is a problem solver and he had plenty of problems to solve in Nagano. Some proved beyond him, ultimately.  He had already stressed his groin at the Canadian championships that year, but the morning of the men’s short program at the Nagano Olympics, he tore a muscle in his groin at an early morning practice. He went into emergency mode.

He pushed himself hard to win that silver medal. But the aftermath of it all, and of everything that had happened to him that year, came back to haunt him. At the very end of that epic, courageous long program, Stojko felt something break inside of him. Call it his will or his spirit. “It just broke and I was never – after that point, no matter how much I tried to train or skate – able to have that same feeling again,” Stojko said. “And that was my strength.”

“I went through my bout of major dark times,” Stojko said.

He had overextended his incredible will. “I guess my faith snapped or my willpower snapped,” he said. “From that point on, I was broken. I was heartbroken and I was broken.” He didn’t know it at the time, because he had been so programed to train and go to the rink, work for next year’s programs, go through all those important steps.

Stojko continued to skate, to give it another shot. He came back stronger than ever, with two quads. But he still wasn’t even close to being mentally the same as he was in early 1998. He figures he skated at about 65 per cent of his capabilities. He made it to 2002, then quit, and fell into a deep depression that he didn’t even realize he had. It really had started after the 1998 Games.

“I went through my bout of major dark times,” Stojko said. “It’s one of the reasons I left Canada. I needed some space and anonymity. I went through some hard times with family issues, after my parents split. Mexico was my place of solitude.”

The athletes that put a lot of heart into their endeavours sometimes find the switch to ordinary life difficult, Stojko said. He once heard Olympic swimming champion Mark Tewksbury talk about life after the Olympics during the 1990s, after he won his gold medal. Tewksbury moved to Australia for a year in post-Olympic depression.

“He had no idea how to move on and how to deal with stuff,” Stojko said. “And for me, it was a hard transition, too. Skaters are lucky in that they still have some shows, if you have a name in skating. Other skaters can go on cruise ships. But it’s not an easy process to go through.”

The worst is that you are caught between a rock and a hard place, Stojko said. You want to do what you feel you want to do. But you need to pay bills. “Then you’re stuck, going after something you may not want to do,” he said.

Financially, Stojko was okay, but his entire life had revolved around skating from the time he was four. It was his grounding place. He never thought about what comes next.  “I could only see myself as Elvis Stokjo the skater,” he said. “Everyone saw me as that. I needed to find out what’s going to make me happy as a complete person. And it took a long time to figure that out.

“I wasn’t depressed because I was leaving skating,” he said. “I was depressed because of the huge buildup and what I went through mentally with that injury. That injury just socked me bad.”

For Stojko, it wasn’t so much the fact that he didn’t win gold in Nagano. “It was about not being able to reach that peak that I knew I could do,” he said. “I had a lot of weight on my shoulders. Everybody thought I could win it. I showed up and knew I was skating on one leg.”

But Stojko has figured it all out. In Mexico, the fog eventually lifted. And then he met Orozco.  And now racing cars has allowed him to tap back into his Terminator self. “I feel from that, I’ve let go from that [stuff] in 1998,” he said. “I’d say it took me at least 10 years to clear all that air of what happened in Nagano. My leg healed, but my soul didn’t. My soul took a lot longer.”

What makes him happy now? Spending time with his wife and his dogs. It’s his happy place these days. Now that he’s back in Canada, he’s spending time with his best friend, Glen Doyle, his sifu during his martial arts days.

He takes his hat off to Orozco, who told him that she does not care where she lives, as long as she is with him. She’s already endured one horrible Canadian winter and it’s okay. The couple knew they had to move back to Canada because more opportunities awaited them than in that growing retirement community of Ajijic, near Guadalajara. Stojko is searching for sponsors for his racing endeavours. Orozco, with her exotic look, has modeling opportunities in Toronto.

They sold off everything in Mexico a year ago and left with the bare essentials, their three dogs, clothing, some knickknacks. They held a couple of giant garage sales in Ajijic, sold the house furnished, and drove their truck to Canada. A friend drove it back to Mexico to sell it.

Now the couple is living in Richmond Hill, Ont., where Stojko grew up and they are starting anew. “It was kind of cool,” Stojko said of divesting themselves of possessions. “It was refreshing.”

OH, CANADA! Elvis Stojko back on native soil, working with young Skate Canada athletes

Elvis Stojko is home again.

After more than a decade living in Mexico, Stojko has returned home to Canada, the country he won a trio of world titles for two decades ago.

It wasn’t planned, the exodus south of the border. Growing up at the mercy of Canada’s relentless winters and training daily inside frigid, damp arenas, Stojko admits he had grown weary of the cold, but there wasn’t a grand plan to escape to a warmer climate. But during a trip to Mexico to visit a friend back in 2001, Stojko decided to buy an apartment on the spot.

As fate would have it, a few years later, he met Gladys Orozco, a former Mexican national figure skating champion. They were wed five years ago.

The couple lived in splendid hillside villa in the village of Ajijic, about an hour outside of Guadalajara. Stojko, always a very private person, welcomed the seclusion and the warm temperatures.

Eventually, though, Canada called Stojko home.

“To be back on a full-time basis feels great,” says Stojko, who moved back to Canada a year ago. “I loved living in Mexico, it was a great experience. But everything was just starting to pull my wife and I back here.

“This is home.”

Elvis Stojko teaches kung fu.

Photo – Gladys Orozco

Not only has the 43-year-old returned to his native country, but there is a second homecoming of sorts, as Stojko has established a working relationship with Skate Canada.

Recently, Stojko took 14 skaters and their coaches under his proverbial wing at the Skate Canada National Performance Centre in Toronto. Eighteen years after his last world title, Stojko still commands a presence when he walks into a room.

Even today, when the three-time world champion, seven-time Canadian champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist speaks, people take notice.

“It feels awesome to reconnect with Skate Canada, work with the kids and be accessible,” Stojko adds. “I have so much information and experience but unless I transfer it, it just dies with me. To be able to pass it on, that’s evolution. That’s how we all learn. In a selfish way, it feels good. As I teach, I also learn.”

“Elvis was one of Canada’s most-focused athletes throughout his outstanding career, and his ability to stay in the moment to maximize performance is legendary,” stated Skate Canada Chief Executive Officer Dan Thompson.

“We are so honoured that Elvis has decided to give back in such a tangible way and we look forward to building our relationship through these camps for a long time.”

At the National Performance Centre, Stojko spent part of the day stressing the importance of mental preparation and being aware of the body at all times. He also spent over an hour on the ice with the skaters and coaches, working with the young athletes on their jumps and landings.

Stojko, a noted martial arts expert, also offered a kung fu training session, including various breathing techniques and exercises designed to activate different muscle groups.

“Most people look at the physical aspect of kung fu, but it is the mental aspect (that is most important),” he says. “It is being able to utilize it as a focusing aid. It is for the confidence and killer instinct to help push them past a certain limit where they don’t think they can get.”

Monica Lockie, Skate Canada’s National Performance Centre Director, says the lessons the young athletes are learning through Stojko are invaluable.

“It’s funny, a lot of these kids were born after Elvis’ career was over,” says Lockie. “A lot of them can’t fully appreciate just how strong he was, and how many obstacles he had to overcome. I think a camp like this is essential for our skaters, our future champions, to let them know it is OK to go through your own challenges.

“In the end, it’s going to be how tough you are mentally that will determine how far you go physically.”

“Elvis had a great career, but he really is an icon for mental toughness and perseverance. He is trying to empower the skater to build his or her own confidence and not just look to other people. Elvis succeeded because of his own drive.

“In the end, it’s going to be how tough you are mentally that will determine how far you go physically.”

Stojko is a busy man these days. When he is not working with Skate Canada, Stojko continues to chase his own dream of kart racing, as a competitive racer at the national and international level. With the karting national championships set to go later this summer, Stojko is focused on making the world team.

Last year, Stojko also wrapped up his Broadway debut, starring as manipulative, smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago: The Musical.

“It’s a lot of fun,” says Stojko of his karting passion. “I take it very seriously and really want to make the world team. I think it is a very realistic goal for me.

“I really like doing this seminar work and working with a lot of kids. I like the consulting thing, and want to do it on my own schedule.”

Stokjo also looks forward to strengthening his partnership with Skate Canada.

“That’s where we’re headed,” he says “If they like the work, and the kids like it, we’ll continue.

“It’s what I love to do.”

Stojko, Bourne set to star in Blades On Stage, a “Broadway holiday spectacular on ice”

Elvis Stojko is a busy man these days.

For starters, the three-time men’s world figure skating champion recently wrapped up his Broadway debut, playing manipulative, smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago: The Musical.

With his maiden Broadway gig in the rearview mirror, Stojko now teams up with fellow world champion and famed choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne to headline Blades On Stage, dubbed a “Broadway holiday spectacular on ice.” Just in time for the holiday season, Mirvish Productions brings the show, with an impressive supporting cast that includes Violetta Afanasieva and Peter Dack, to Toronto’s Princess Of Wales Theatre from Christmas Eve through January 4.

If Broadway musicals and holiday shows aren’t taking up enough of his time, fulfilling a need for speed certainly keeps Stojko’s calendar filled.

A lifelong fan of motorsports, Stojko has turned his passion into a second career as a competitive kart racer at the national and international level.  As far as future aspirations go, Stojko admits while he wants to remain active in both skating and acting, he is focused on keeping the pedal to the metal, both literally and figuratively.

“The karting has been going great, it’s a lot of fun” says Stojko, taking a break from Blades On Stage rehearsals.

“I’ve got the Florida winter tour coming up. There will be some guys from IndyCar,  some pretty big names, coming to race. I’m really looking forward to it, and I’m taking it very serious. It’s what I want to do.”

Racing isn’t just a hobby for Stojko. He isn’t shy when discussing his end goal, and Stojko has every intention of continuing his ascent in the sport until he makes it to racing’s big time.

For a guy that has three world golds and a pair of Olympic silver medals in his trophy case, you may not want to bet against him.

“Motorsports has always been in my life,” admits Stojko, also a noted martial arts expert. “The car racing is really where I want to go. I believe I have the skills and talent to do it at the professional level, and I have the right support, the right people, backing me. It’s just a case of building that sponsorship to get to the next level, and figuring out exactly where I want to go.

“After that, the sky’s the limit.”

Stojko may want to think about leaving that high-powered kart at home for the next few weeks.

If he had the urge to bring the wheels out for a practice spin in between Blades On Stage shows, there won’t be much room to negotiate those hairpin turns. The Blades on Stage cast will take their spins on a rather confined sheet of ice custom-fitted for the Princess of Wales stage, creating a unique, intimate setting between the audience and the performers.

“It’s been challenging because we have a 40 by 55 foot surface,” Stojko admits. “A lot of people ask ‘Is it real ice?’”

“Yes, it is,” he adds with a laugh. “It’s going to be real ice on stage – the first time in Canada –  which is really exciting.”

If Stojko had “star in a Broadway musical” on his bucket list, he can now scratch that one off as well. The son of a classically trained tenor, Stojko released his first album, 100 Lifetimes, in 2010 before dipping his toe in the acting pond, landing the role of Billy Flynn in Chicago: The Musical.

The role has been played by the likes of Billy Ray Cyrus, Alan Thicke, Tom Wopat and Richard Gere, who played Flynn in the Oscar-winning movie more than a decade ago.

“It was incredible,” says Stojko of his Broadway debut. “At first I thought I bit off more than I can chew after the first week of rehearsals in New York, but it doesn’t get any better than working with professionals at that level. I was able to tap in and really connect with my character.

“Every show, I got stronger and stronger, and by the time I came to Toronto to perform (last March), I felt extremely comfortable. It was an incredible experience and I would love to do it again. It’s something I will never forget.”

Joining Stojko in the Blades On Stage spotlight will be Bourne, who teamed with Victor Kraatz to claim the 2003 ice dance world championship, the highlight of an impressive resume that includes ten Canadian titles and three Olympic appearances.

Bourne has established herself as a majestic choreographer, working with such stars as reigning men’s Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, Joannie Rochette, Ashley Wagner, Akiko Suzuki, Daisuke Takahashi and Jeremy Abbott. She also choreographs for rising Canadian ice dance stars Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who are fresh off a gold medal at the ISU Grand Prix Final.

Like Stojko, Bourne says Blades On Stage presented a unique set of challenges, but she is looking forward to fusing blades and Broadway together over this holiday season.

“It’s speed – skating on stage is a very different feel that you would never get in any other Broadway show,” says Bourne. “It’s exciting for me as I’ve never been on such a small stage before. I’ve managed to figure out a way to keep the speed and bring that to the theatre.

“What I love most is the artistry of the skating and the choreography, and entertaining, and acting,” adds Bourne. “This gives me a chance to really focus on that, be creative and use the ice that we do have.

“There’s still a lot you can do even though it’s small. You just have to be a little more creative.”

Elvis Stojko still pushing the envelope post career

There’s no doubt about it. Three-time world figure skating champion Elvis Stojko walks into a room, and at age 41, there’s still an energy that surrounds this guy. There always has been. There always will be.

He’s tanned and lean, looking just as fit as his competitive days when he won two Olympic silver medals and seven Canadian championships. “Fear less and hope more,” is his mantra.

Now he’s levelled his sights at new challenges: kart racing (“These things rip,” he says of his karts. It’s so Elvis.) and singing in the broadway show, Chicago in New York and Toronto. And he’s still skating in shows and carnivals. He’s finishing up his autobiography, which will be out next year. He’ll work as a journalist for Yahoo.com at the Sochi Olympics, just as he did in Vancouver. He’s so busy, but his eyes are alive, with all the juggling and all the fun.

These Olympics will ring differently for Stojko than the last one, when he sided with Evgeny Plushenko and the idea that a guy shouldn’t be Olympic champion without a quad. Since Vancouver, the quad has been reborn with a vengeance, with rule changes that award more marks to the four-rotation jump and a change in the under-rotation rules that make a slight cheat not a life-threatening event. Even Russian’s young Maxim Kovtun, who may not make it to the Games, plans five quads.

“Now the guys are pushing the limit,” Stojko says. “Guys are doing quad Lutz’s now. That’s what I call pushing the envelope. And it’s awesome to see and it makes it exciting again. It puts some risk back into it. Now it’s back up to a standard to where I feel it should be.”

He’s well aware of his weaknesses and his strengths when he competed. “No athlete is going to have absolutely everything,” Stojko says. He’s seen athletes who focus too much on their natural talents, but neglect their weaknesses, to their peril.

“I was naturally gifted just as an athlete, naturally gifted being able to focus and have will power,” Stokjo says. He wasn’t called the Terminator for nothing: in the annals of figure skating, there will always be the picture of Stojko doubling over in pain after he completed his long program at the Nagano Olympics, despite the fact that he endured a groin injury that week and he’d aggravated it during the program.

“There were other things in skating that I really had to work at,” he said. “One was cardio. One was because I was very athletic on one side, a lot of people thought I wasn’t artistic, so I had to. That was always a fight for me. It was always something I had to work for and really train.”

Stojko met Patrick Chan last year during some shows over the winter: Stojko, 2008 world champion Jeff Buttle, four-time world champion Kurt Browning and Chan were part of a show. He and Chan hit it off. “He’s a great kid,” Stojko said. “It only makes you stronger if you only know the truth. And people are going to tell Patrick he is awesome all the time.”

Chan knew he could learn a lot from Stojko, as tough a competitor as ever stepped onto an ice surface. He picked Stojko’s brain about preparing, training and competition.

Stojko advised Chan not to get caught up during the week with winning every practice. “You start doing that, and you’ll have nothing left,” Stojko said. “You’d be an easy target if I was competing against you.”

“What do you mean?” Chan asked.

“I would make sure I would do my jumps in front of you,” Stojko told him. “I would land them all the time, get you pumped up, to just blow your wad for the week and have nothing left in the tank for the end.”

Stojko told him that when he competed at the world championships in 1997, he went out on the practice the morning of the long program, landed three jumps, blocked out his program and got off the ice. People wondered if something was wrong with Stojko.

He skated the long program cleanly and won the world title. “I trusted myself,” Stojko said. “I didn’t have to win every practice and impress at every practice.” He told Chan that people would talk about his practices but they’d remember only his competition.  “It’s part of the confidence you have to have in yourself,” Stojko told him. “You have to be confident that you don’t have to constantly win everything and keep yourself believing that you can do it. You should already know.”

Stojko isn’t short of confidence. He competes in kart racing with athletes half his age. It won’t be a hobby for him. He’s pushing the bar, using his focus to get faster. It will become his No. 1 thing as he eventually leaves his skating world behind. In March, at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto, he will play the daunting role of smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago – and it won’t be his first time on stage. He also sang in Grease in Toronto and has released an album. Little-known fact: his father, Steve Stojko was a talented singer.

It seems there is nothing that Stojko can’t do. It’s a mindset.

Beverley Smith