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    Saturday, February 14, 1998

    Will quad save the king?

    By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun
      NAGANO -- Elvis Stojko has made noise about sticking around until the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
     And now there's more incentive than ever for skating's Terminator to do just that.
     Stojko, the first skater to land a quadruple-triple jump combination, could dominate the "eligible" skating ranks for years if International Skating Union plans to make a quad a required element in the short program get passed next year.
     The figure skating technical committee of the ISU has proposed a new-look short program for consideration at its June Congress in Sweden. One of the proposals being considered would allow skaters the option of including a quad rather than a triple as a solo jump as a required element in the short program.
     In great shape
     That would play right into Stojko's hands. The Richmond Hill skater is still one of the world leaders in nailing the quad toe, and currently is perfecting a quad Salchow.
     By allowing a quad into the short, Stojko would find himself in great shape heading into the free skate, and overall in better position to win every meet he enters.
     At last year's world championships in Lausanne, Stojko skated a clean short program with all the required elements, as did three others. The judges, however, placed him fourth, based mainly on presentation scores. By allowing the option of a quad in the short, Stojko, 25, would have less worry of being placed behind the pack based on presentation marks.
     It all comes down to ammunition. The more Stojko arms, the better chance he has of winning, as the judges rarely give him the benefit of the doubt for presentation. But after years of pushing his man to the outer limits of technical skating, Stojko's coach Doug Leigh said yesterday that, win, place or draw after this morning's free skate, his skater has made his mark in the sport and the color of the medal will not change their outlook on the sport, or on life.
     "That's what it's all about and that's what we've always done, and they can never take that away from you," Leigh said in an emotional moment. "They never, ever, ever can take that away from you.
     "The judges can give you any marks they want, but they can never take away that real person."
     Leigh, the head coach of the Mariposa club in Barrie, said there would be no last-minute instructions today as Stojko prepares for his historic long program. In fact, the coach suspects the two hardly will speak at all. Stojko, who is attempting to become the first Canadian to win the Olympic men's singles title.
     , will wake up about 9 a.m., and spend the day in quiet solitude, listening to music most of the day.