Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Former Canadian star Stojko back on the ice and coaching in Mexico

There's just one tiny rink in Guadalajara, Mexico, a city packed with nearly six million people. The ice heaves at the centre and droops at the edges. There's one ancient Zamboni.

It's there in the most unlikely of places that former Canadian figure skating star Elvis Stojko is staging his comeback.

Shaken by the divorce of his parents, and disillusioned as his career wound down, Stojko moved to Guadalajara after he retired from competition in August 2006, leaving the spotlight and skating behind.

But the 36-year-old is back at the rink, preparing to launch a pro touring career. He's also coaching Mexican skater Humberto Contreras, who is competing at the ISU Four Continents figure skating championships this week at the Pacific Coliseum.

"I'm getting myself back in shape and getting on the ice," Stojko said. "It's been really nice, a purity of skating, a change in the way I approach it and the style - a new vision.

"I had to end it completely because if you sort of take a half step away, everyone still wants a piece of you because you're half in, half out. So that's why I ended it, I didn't know if I was going to come back. I'm back now."

The skater from Richmond Hill, Ont., won three world championships and a pair of Olympic silver medals, in 1994 in Lillehammer and '98 in Nagano. He skated his last show in August 2006 at the Mariposa skating club in Barrie, Ont.

"It seems like a lifetime because I've gone through a lot since then," Stojko said.

He largely remained out of the public eye - the three-time world champion did play himself in an episode of "The Simpsons" in December 2006. And last summer, he spoke at a rally outside the Ontario legislature protesting China's human rights record. He suggested athletes boycott the Beijing Games, prompting harsh words from Canadian kayaker Adam van Koeverden among others. Those remarks, Stojko says now, earned him as many enemies as supporters.

Full article.

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