THE FIRST STEP
A life journey seems to be fueled by the simplest of inspirations. And the journey of Elvis Stojko started no differently. Elvis actually wanting to start skating at the age of 2 ½ years old watching Kay Thomson spinning on television, but his parents didn’t relent until the age of 4 when they finally signed him up.
There were actually only a few boys skating at that club that Elvis joined, so when in club competitions, both boys and girls would compete together. At Elvis’s first competition at the age of 6, he was awarded first place, but since there were only two boys in the whole competition, Elvis ended up with the little girl trophy for first place… this is even more ironic when you factor in that back in those days, boys black skates were hard to come by, so his mom had to buy girl’s white skates and paint them black.
PUSHED TO EXCELLENCE
Elvis skated in Newmarket till the age of 9 and then went to train in the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club. At this club the skaters were much stronger and the level went all the way up to the Senior National level. This environment was more suited to his work ethic and wanting to improve. Training under the direction of Ellen Burka, Elvis made the Novice National Championships at the age of 13 and placed 3rd. After turning 14 years old Elvis decided he needed a change and train under the direction of Doug Leigh, who was training the great Brian Orser. This moved Elvis up to the Junior level and winning the National Junior title at the age of 15. From this point Elvis never looked back and went on to not only wining world championships and Olympic medals, but changing the direction of the sport and giving it a more masculine look and aggressive presence. The quadruple toe double toe combination was completed by Elvis in 1991 at the world championships and then the first ever quadruple toe triple toe combination at the Grand Prix Final and world Championships in 1997. In 1994 the quad triple combination was almost completed at the world championships by Elvis, only having a very minor step out from the second jump. It took about 5 years before anyone ever landed it in competition besides him. This gives Elvis two places in the Guinness Book Of World Records for the two jump combinations.
EVERYONE’S A CRITIC
Elvis’s style of skating was never really appreciated by the mainstream critics and judges, but Elvis never really cared. He always expressed himself the way he was and that in turn allowed the Bruce Lee program to unfold in 1994. This program is still regarded as ahead of its time, blending the art of Chinese Kung Fu and skating together on ice. This program got him his 1st National title beating Kurt Browning in his home Province. This was the point were Elvis really made his mark on the skating world and moved to the Olympics to win a silver medal then the following month the world title.
Interestingly at that time the Canadian Figure Skating Association was not very supportive to the choices that Elvis was making in his career in regards to his style. So support on the judge’s stand from the Canadian judges was never seen. All three world titles that he won were with NO Canadian judges on the panel. Yet at the Olympics in 1994 there was a 5 to 4 split on the final result. Meaning 5 judges went for the Russian skater and 4 went for Elvis. You guessed it, the Canadian judge went with the other skater. Elvis fought this uphill battle most of his career, having to fight the world yet having to fight within his own country. Yet this made Elvis stronger and untouchable in regards to his focus and his unwavering ability to perform under pressure. He was the number one skater on the planet to perform under pressure. His consistency was unmatched even to this day.
CROSSROADS OF A HERO
1998 was the year that changed his life forever. The trial by fire at the ’98 Olympics was the true test for him. Skating at the National Championships in Hamilton one month before the ’98 Olympics, Elvis skated perfect being awarded perfect 6.0’s for both technical and artistic parts of his skating. Yet no one knew that he had minor groin pull that later would become a major problem at the worse time. The weeks leading up to the big show were tough on his mind know he had to keep close watch on the injury, but make sure no one knew. If his competitors knew he had an injury, they would gain confidence from it. Also Elvis never wanted to have an excuse incase he did not skate up to his ability. Everything seemed to be running as smooth as could be at the practices at the Olympics, yet Elvis ended up contracting a very serious flu 5 days before the event began, which alone should of taken him out of the Olympics, but with the help of his close friend and acupuncturist Susan Makray, Elvis was able to recover soon enough to compete. However, the flu somehow weakened the area of the injury. The day of the short program Elvis ended up tearing the groin in practice about 8 hours before the competition. Elvis could barely stand, yet he decided to compete. Only his coaches and his doctors knowing Elvis competed and won the silver medal. He was and still is considered a hero for his efforts, but his heart and spirit were shattered and it took many years to recover on a metal level. He belief system was shot, since he thought that his body let him down, when he believed in himself so much. Elvis still decided to compete till the next Olympics, but never really got back to his true form mentally. He was still searching for himself.
LEAVING THE BUILDING
Elvis retired after the 2002 Olympics and skated a few years in the pro ranks, but felt his heart was leading him elsewhere, his love of music, singing, and acting. His dad being a trained singer and singing for 40 years Elvis always had music in his home. Elvis has always loved music and having the want to express him self through music. Acting also has been a passion, but both of these topics are for another chapter