You Know Who (no login) Posted Mar 25, 2010 12:47 PM
Local skaters learn from Canadian legend
Posted By CHELSEY ROMAIN, QMI AGENCY
Posted 3 days ago
Elvis Stojko has years of experience on the ice and two Olympic silver medals to prove it.
But the three-time world champion and seven time Canadian figure skating champion took some time to travel North and share that experience with younger skaters working toward their own Olympic dreams.
In Matheson for a three-day technique seminar, along with choreographer/ movement specialist Roselle Doyle, Stojko works at not only working on technique of individual skaters, but also the image of his sport.
Stojko is not known to keep his opinions to himself and makes no apologies for voicing them.
" I earned this position to be able to speak my mind," he said.
"They can't take away what I did and it doesn't change anything in the past, but it does paint a picture of where the sport is cause I love this sport and
I'm going fight for it tooth and nail so that it continues to push."
With the Olympics not far behind the country, reaction to American Evan Lysacek's gold medal win remains a topic of conversation, whether it be his relatively safe routine, his lack of a quadruple jump and what it means for the sport in the men's division.
"It's absolutely ridiculous that most of the guys didn't try (the quad) and that it's not being rewarded," Stojko said. "They say the whole competition can't be based on one jump, but let me tell you, it can.
"If you take out a quadruple, it makes the whole program at least 50% easier to do.
"People say it's not a jumping competition. Fine let's make it a recital, take it out of the Olympics and make it a dancing event because then it no longer has the difficulty and that's what's keeping it in the sport."
It's events like the recent Olympics that Stojko said needs to change if the figure skating world expects young boys to begin training in the first place. He said they not only need someone to relate too, but also a point to work toward.
While he'll argue that United States figure skater Johnny Weir should have beat Canadian Patrick Chan, and can even appreciate that Weir's style of skating worked that day, Stojko said it's the kind of skating that is turning away future Olympians in the men's division.
According to Stojko, power and athleticism needs to be pushed instead of artistry to get younger boys interested.
"What they are saying is that in order to be artistic, the effeminate skating is what they like -Johnny Weir's style," he said. "Strictly from a guy's point of view when I'm watching, I can appreciate the quality, but if you want young boys to come into the sport you have to give them something to identify with."
He stressed that it's not about getting rid of the guys with a certain flair, but a matter of giving credit to guys like Russian silver medalist Evgeni Plushenko who are going on the attack with big jumps.
"Without the jumps you're missing massive part of the difficulty," said Stojko, who said he was thanked by many for speaking out about the need for quads. "Those who have never done a quad not going to understand the difficulty of it.
"These guys should be doing all the stuff we did 20 years ago and throwing quads in there."
In 2002, Stojko said, 15 guys tried quadruple jumps. Six skaters did two quads in the long program, including Stojko who ended up eighth. This year six guys tried one.
When it comes to Canadian skaters, Stojko said it's a matter of moving on and pushing forward. Although he said Chan didn't have a disastrous try, it would be necessary for the young Canadian to push the envelop if he ever hopes to be the future of figure skating.
"He has nice edges, and that's great, but it takes a lot more than that," he said.
But back in Matheson, as much as Stojko was working on techniques with the
young skaters he was also joined by choreographer and movement specialist Roselle Doyle.
"My main concern is to get them to express themselves," Doyle said.
"I encourage them to get out of their shell because often times they are so inhibited and it really helps their skating."
Together with Stojko, the skaters were able to touch both sides of the sport, technical and artistic, while receiving some motivation from those who have seen the pressure first hand.
"There's only so much I can teach them in three days, and it takes years to move well," she said.
"When they are done with Elvis, they are so into their heads and when I get them they have to perform from their heart."
Stojko said he not only wanted to work on basic techniques with his short-time students, but also talk to them about the mentality that comes with skating -the pressure to seek approval from judges and moving beyond one's own limits.
"Whether you say you can or you can't, you're always right," he said.
Students came from the Kirkland Lake Skating Cub. Timmins, Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Iroquois Falls, Black River-Matheson and as far as North Bay for the chance to skate with the Olympian.