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  • Friday, March 31, 2000

    Good old Elvis!

    Stojko hangs in for silver medal

    By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

     NICE, France - Old couldn't win gold. But unless Elvis Stojko tests positive for Geritol, he'll be heading home wearing a silver medal, which almost means as much.

     It wasn't pretty but it was pretty good for the 28-year-old who saved Canada's now 19-year streak of putting at least one person on the podium at Worlds .

     "That definitely sends a message,'' said Stojko. "This totally proves that no matter how old you are in this sport you can make it work.''

     Stojko, at the end of a wild and weird final- flight fright night, ended up pulling a silver medal out of the train wreck and standing beside a very thankful 20-year-old Alexei Yagudin, who survived a decidedly off night to match Kurt Browning's three consecutive world titles ('89-'90-'91.)

     Stojko, who won a silver to Browning's fourth gold in '93, has now won six world medals including a bronze in '92 and his three golds. His medal collection also includes two Olympic silvers.

     There was almost as much falling and flailing as there was in '89 when Browning won his first gold in Paris.

     YOU NEVER KNOW ...

     "I think the reason people watch figure skating is that you never know what's going to happen,'' said Stojko.

     The most amazing thing about Stojko's silver is that he didn't land a quad in qualifying, in the short program or the long. "It's not all about quads,'' he said, although in all there were 20 quads in the men's competition.

     Stojko skated first in the final flight. As in the short program, he fell on his quad. But he battled back and landed eight triples.

     "When you miss your first jump, it knocks the wind out of you. But I dug deep and was determined to continue no matter what happened. I told myself, 'I'm not going to give up.' If I keep that never-give- up attitude, I seem to end up near the top. It's weird but it's happened before.

     "I put in a lot this year. I'm proud of what I've done. This medal ranks high with me because of the situation and everything I went through in mind, body and spirit to get back to this level. It ranks very high. Near the top.''

     It looked for all the world, when Stojko left the ice, that he was going to end up fourth or fifth. But one by one they had an even tougher time than he did.

     American Michael Weiss, who won the bronze last year with Stojko fourth, was a mess. With the two Russian skaters remaining, Stojko was assured of a bronze.

     Yagudin, brilliant in the short program, was off on almost every landing and fell on a triple Lutz. Somehow he managed to get in two quads and seven triples but had to make several off-balance saves to do it. He won it with seven 5.9s on the artistic line and was first with all nine judges.

     Evgeni Plushenko, the last to skate, doubled out of his quad, fell on a second attempt at a quad and had to go so far away from his scheduled program to get in all his jumps, he was totally out of sync with his music. He ended up fourth, leaving Stojko with silver and Weiss the bronze.

     'IT WAS ENOUGH'

     Crazy competition.

     "I know I didn't do my best,'' said Yagudin. "But it was enough.''

     Yagudin was asked what it meant to win again with 18-year-old Plushenko not making it to the podium. He laughed.

     "This is not the end. We will meet each other a million times more.''

     That would have been the perfect time for Stojko to stand up, hold up his silver and announce his retirement on the spot.

     But Yagudin turned to his right where Stojko sat beside him at the medallist press conference.

     "I hope Elvis will stay with us,'' he said.

     Then he paused.

     "And Todd Eldredge, too,'' he said of the Olympic-eligible American who was not here.

     It brought on a lot of laughter, including from the Canadian.

     "He's older than me,'' said Stojko.



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