ALSO ON SLAM!
Friday, March 31, 2000
Silver lining for Elvis
Third world title for Yagudin
NICE, France -- Somehow, the freezer geezer, Elvis Stojko, managed to lift his tired, old body on to the medal podium last night.
The Terminator, proving once and for all that a 28-year-old figure skater still can do great things, captured a silver medal at the world championships with a gutsy free skate program.
Stojko crashed hard on his first element, the quadruple toe, but fought back and nailed eight consecutive triple jumps, including a triple axel/triple toe combination and triple flip/triple toe combo, to move to second overall from fourth after Tuesday's short program.
Apparently there's life in the old guy yet.
"No.2, No.2 in the world," Stojko said, taking in his latest triumph. "There was a lot of doubt from people. And this totally proves that no matter how old you are in this sport, you can make it work.
The Richmond Hill skater, who won his first medal at the worlds, a bronze, in 1992, said his performance sends a message.
"I always believed it's not just the body, but the mind and soul that make it. Some of the best athletes in the world do their best work past their 30s."
Of course, some still do good work in their 20s. Russian star Alexei Yagudin, who just hit the two-decade mark, won his third world title in a row, becoming the first man to do that since Canada's Kurt Browning in 1991.
The men's free skate program certainly was not the most memorable, although eight skaters nailed quads last night. Yagudin, in fact, landed two in his program, although he fell near the end on an attempted triple lutz.
Perhaps it's ironic that Stojko, who really forced the competition to pick up the quad during the past few seasons, emerged back on the podium without landing a quad.
"It just goes to show you that it's not just about quads," said Stojko, who remained coy about his future, although it's a good bet he'll remain in the competitive ranks for at least one more season.
"It's about fighting all the way through and I did and it feels great.
Yagudin also felt great, but also completely drained.
"In four or five minutes your season is over and you're completely dead," he said. "You're working how many months? Six? Seven? Eight? Just to be dead."
American Michael Weiss, who was third after the short program, captured the bronze. Russian wunderkind, Evgeny Plushenko, 17, dropped to fourth from second after the short when he crashed and burned in his free skate, downgrading a number of triples and falling on his quad attempt.
Stojko has won three world titles, but last night's silver was certainly something special.
"This ranks very high (given) what I've gone through the past couple of years -- rebuilding my body, my mind and my spirit, back to a competitive level and not giving up," he said.
Edmonton's Ben Ferreira, 20, landed eight triples to finish 18th overall.