Elvis Stojko, the two-time Olympic silver medalist, is known for expressing strong opinions on the state of figure skating.
At the 2010 Games, Stojko wrote that Evan Lysacek‘s performance was not “Olympic champion material” in a column titled, “The night they killed figure skating.” The retired Canadian lamented the absence of a quadruple jump in Lysacek’s arsenal.
The quad is now more prevalent in men’s skating, but all is still not right. Stojko is unimpressed with the new figure skating event for the Sochi Olympics — the team competition.
The team event will begin the night before the opening ceremony (Thursday, Feb. 6) and wrap up two nights after the cauldron is lit (Sunday, Feb. 9).
Each nation entered will have men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance skaters perform one short program and one free skate each (total of eight). The event will include 10 nations with a cut down to five after the short programs. The highest cumulative scores will determine the medals.
Two skaters (or two couples or one skater and one couple) may be subbed out after the short program. For example, the U.S. could enter Ashley Wagner in the women’s short and Gracie Gold in the women’s free skate, granted Wagner and Gold make the Olympic team in singles.
Stojko wasn’t fully familiar with the particulars of the event but, upon being told details, didn’t like the premise.
“I don’t know if that’s such a great thing,” he said at the opening The Rink at Rockefeller Center in New York on Monday. “It makes for audience, one way it can work. But for skaters, to be able to do another competition right before the Olympics, if they’re trying to get trained, it’s great. If they’re at their peak, it might be tough. The ones that will be able to balance it out, they might not push very hard because they’re going to save it for the next week because that takes a lot out of you, for sure, to be able to be at that level, and then have to do it right before the Olympics, right before their actual competition.
“It’ll be tough. I don’t know if it’s such a great choice if they want to have good skating for the actual (individual) events.”
Stojko, 41, said he probably wouldn’t have done the team event if it was part of the Olympic program when he competed in 1992, 1994, 1998 and 2002.
“Because I would be so focused on my individual stuff,” he said. “It’d be really tough. If I was not in medal contention for Olympics in solo, then maybe I would consider it, but still then it would be really tough. It’s really hard for us to do the technical stuff we’re doing to do it once and then do it again like a week later.
“Year after year, we know our schedule, and then, all of a sudden, they’re like, ‘OK, we’re doing a team event this year.’ It’s kind of tough. I’d still probably veer away from it.”
The coach for Germany’s top pairs team agrees with Stojko. Ingo Steuer said four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy will not take part in the team event.
The pairs short program is three nights after the pairs free skate in the team event.
“It is too close to our own competition,” Steuer said, according to icenetwork.com. “The gold medal in our individual event is more important to us. It is why we have been working so hard since 2010.”