ALSO ON SLAM!
Tuesday, March 28, 2000
Elvis finds new charm
Dons serpent pendant for 'positive karma'
NICE, France -- Elvis Stojko put a snake around his neck yesterday and went right adder.
But unlike Harry, the guy from SCTV with a snake on his face, the serpent is no joke to Stojko, the skating-rink philosopher.
"(My birthday) is the year of the rat, and the snake is a positive energy force for the rat," skating's Mr. Deep said yesterday when asked about his jade pendant. "It's not a superstitious thing. It's based on energy and positive feedback. I really believe in positive karma (and) I knew in 1998 and 1999, it was just the wrong karma and bad vibes.
"I needed a change, so I made the changes (and) now things are happening. It's weird."
Maybe. But hey, whatever gets you through a day. And for Stojko, the snake is a good thing. Besides, who's going to argue with a 28-year-old who nailed down first place in his qualifying group at the world figure skating championships?
Stojko, a three-time world champion, rated his performance yesterday a seven or eight out of 10. That, he said, is perfect for a qualifying round, with the short program scheduled for today and the free skate on Thursday. Yesterday's round was worth 20% of the overall mark.
"It's really tough to gauge a program like that because you don't want to go out and skate absolutely perfect," he said. "You want something left for Thursday, for the big guns.
"It's kind of awkward because consciously you want to go for everything, but subconsciously you have to hold back a little bit."
Determined to win his fourth title, Stojko improvised admirably during his qualifying free skate. After downgrading his opening quadruple toe into a triple, and stepping out of his triple axel-triple toe combination, the Richmond Hill skater threw in a triple axel-triple toe later and then a triple flip-triple toe, although he was penalized with a deduction of .1 points for performing the same jump -- the triple toe -- more than twice. But for Stojko, getting in the two combos was of the utmost importance. His goal was to finish first or second heading into the short. And it was mission accomplished.
"It feels very solid and it's building every day," said Stojko, who finished fourth at the worlds last year after struggling back from a groin injury.
"I can't tell you how good that feels," the Terminator said of his new-found health. "The past couple of years it felt like I had a hand tied behind my back, or one leg tied up."
Now he feels ready to regain his spot on top of the podium.
But first he'll have to get past the two Russian contenders, defending champ Alexei Yagudin and 17-year-old wunderkind Evgeny Plushenko, last year's silver medallist. Yagudin, 20, finished first in Group B yesterday after nailing a quad toe in his program, and is tied with Stojko in first overall heading into the short. Plushenko fell attempting a quad and placed second in Group A behind Stojko. American Michael Weiss was second in Group B while Edmonton's Ben Ferreira placed 11th in his group and made the cut for the short program.