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Posted By SkatingPj

Elvis Stojko and Pj's Book
It has been a busy couple of weeks - and I know I am not the only one who has been up to their eyeballs over the last little bit!  I took advantage of being on a radio show together with Elvis Stojko a couple of nights ago to entice him with a cup of coffee and a copy of my book (Taking the Ice) to come and meet me for a quick interview.  (Actually it was a couple of interviews - some stuff for you here and more cool stuff for my piece that will appear on www.cbcsports.ca next week).  In any event - talk about busy! First of all - those of you lucky enough to live in Peterborough, Cornwall, North Bay, Kitchener and Sarnia - starting on January 4, 2011 Elvis Stojko's show "Rock The Ice" Tour is coming to your town. (www.rocktheicetour.com) He chuckled when he told me that the nickname for the show is The Tour of The Rebels and in tellng me about the cast I can see why: Elvis who will not only skate but sing as well, his wife Gladys Orozco-Stojko, Gary Beacom, Emanuel Sandhu, Surya Bonaly can all explain the rebel part. The rest of the show is rounded out with some really cool acts provided by Violeta Afanazieva (from Battle of the Blades) and husband and partner Pete Dack as well as a couple of other adagio teams and spectacular aerialist Emmanuelle Balmori who was once a Quebec ice dancer. When the N'Ice Guys were in Italy last year, it was with a bunch of people from this same show, co-produced with Daniel Weiss and is well worth the effort to come out and see them - you won't be disappointed!

I am always delighted to speak to Elvis. He and I both agree that we would rather have a healthy discussion filled with opinion rather than a wishy-washy exchange of pleasantries.  We went over his retirement from amateur skating after the Olympics in 2002 and taking some time to do other things.  I didn't know that his love of music and singing dates way back to childhood and singing at school and then taking guitar in high school - although more formal voice training has been ongoing since about 2002.   He talks about skating to "Lift you Up" by Gotthard and how he relates to it; a 'ringleader' pulling people in to a common effort.  His other piece, When a Hero Cries by Ed Guy, is the perfect way to express that no matter how strong a hero is - there is still room for emotion.  He says with a smile that it reminds him of his favourite show - Smallville.   Today's Elvis says that when listening to music, he was always thinking about how he would move to it on the ice.  What he would like people to know about his skating is that he was drawn back to it by the joy he saw on student Umberto Contreras' face as he skated, and it made him want to help skating and skaters in Mexico move towards more and better training facilities.  He is back to training 2 -3 hours per day and still does 3Axels and "on a good day" can do quads.  He says: "It's not ballet on ice or contemporary dance on ice.  It can be anything on ice."  Despite what you may have thought or heard, Elvis clearly wants the world to know that there is room for everyone in skating. Follow me on Twitter @skatingpj and Elvis @therealestojko Check out Elvis' Show and Happy Holidays to everyone!

*** Get Taking The Ice by Pj Kwong at www.cbcshop.ca and www.takingtheice.com **


 
Posted By SkatingPj

Pj and Scott Moir and book
Whew!  A loooong day yesterday involving book signings at two separate locations.  The first was a suburban Toronto rink - home of the Richmond Training Centre where Tomas Verner now hangs his hat.  I have to tell you that Tomas (Tommy to his friends Mr. Tommy to me!)  is an absolutley delightful young man, the kind we want our daughters to bring home - courteous, charming and scary smart.  In any event, his Canadian "den mother" Carmen James had organized my appearnace and told me that Tomas would be arriving shortly with his costume designer.  Oooooohh....yay....good news for me as I have to write a skating related story every week for CBCsports.ca and this sounded like I was going to be able to snag a few answers to questions and have something to write about.  Little did I know what was in store.

Suffice to say I got a really cool little story about his costume that will be on the CBC website a little later this week and I have something to share with y'all too!

Tomas arrived at the rink and in a rush tumbled through the doors with a slight, smiling blond man named Jamie Scott in tow.  After hugs and hellos, Tomas told me the man's name and as I introduced myself he said have we met?  I said I didn't think so -  he said "How did you know my name?"  "Well...um...er...Tomas told me." I said.  He chewed on that for a minute still not sure that I hadn't somehow "magic-ked" (my kids' word when they were little for making the "im"- possible) the information.  The guys had to quickly head to the coaches' room in order for Tomas to try on his new costume and hit the ice to make sure it worked.

What interested me was how the two had met?  I mean what are the odds that a figure skating champion would cross paths with a costume designer who primarily works for theatres and opera companies across the US as well as Broadway.  I was invited into the coaches' room after Tomas had tried out the outfit (I really like the shrt :)  and that is when I got the story.  It seems that Jamie is a skater who competes at the Adult level in the US and is a fan of Verner's.  In the summer, he sent Tomas some sketches of costumes that would be perfect for a Dvorak piece of music if he ever used it. (I just found out that Dvorak was Czech!)  In any event, Tomas said that while he was trying all of the different skating schools this summer the letter went to his parents' place and it took a while for him to catch up to his mail.  Once he did, he was sufficiently impressed that he asked Jamie if he wanted to work with him this season.  As Jamie recounted that moment he is still breathless with excitement at the thought.  To say he was thrilled was an understatement.  He told me that they have gone through six sketches but have seemingly hit on the winning choice to be debuted in China.

The other fun part for me was moving on to Mississauga and the Challenge event - the qualifier for Canadian Nationals.  It's funny who you run into in the back hallways of the rink!  More than anything, seeing Bryce Davison on crutches but otherwise looking great was a treat. I also saw Jessica Dube skate a solid free with just three weeks of training - that  should put the ladies on notice for Canadians.

 

* Don't forget Pj's Book is still available in time for giving @ www.takingtheice.com **


 
Posted By SkatingPj

Well...that was a hectic 4 weeks!  I have missed this!  Just writing for fun and not because I have some deadline(s) looming!  That kind of writing is also fun in its own strange way - you know you're going to have to write about something and as you sit in front of the computer - you have no idea from where the words are going to come.  Suddenly an image or even a single word is sometimes enough to get you started.  Regardless - sitting here with about 10 minutes to spare before leaving for a book signing -, my nails drying and my hair in hot rollers - I am smiling to myself and happy to sit and jot down a few thoughts.

For those of you who are skating fans - I am back on track to take all of the interviews that I have done and am going to write them up starting later today.  So please come back and get caught up as I get caught up.

For those of you who like stories about life - this is where I am starting today.

I love my job as a coach and in particular as a coach of young children and I am going to offer two examples why:

Aidan is a very active 6 year old boy who has a very hard time staying still.  He has been learning hockey on his own sort of and is a very strong athlete with a very weak attention span.  He is a skater in one of my groups and I had him pegged from the moment I met him.  He is one of those little boys who only ever hears about how naughty he is which of course makes him even more naughty.  The way around a little guy like this is to make him feel like he is important and accepted - and then he is putty in your hands.  As he was skating around me and away from me endlessly in our first lesson with a face that said "why would I bother listening - you're just going to tell me I am naughty" - I got inspired.  I lowered my voice and in front of the other kids I said:  "Aidan - can you come here please?" He skated over to me: already defeated. "You are such a great skater.  Do you think you could please show the other kids how you can glide on one foot?"  His beaming face told me I was on to somehing.  During our lessons he is now beside me, listening and waiting for his turn to show the other kids something.  He is also still at an age where anyone who looks like a "mom" is automatically high up on the attractive scale.  Quietly, this past week as he slipped his hand into mine he said:  "Hey Pj, maybe one day you could come to my house after skating?"  It was my turn to smile.

Bridget, who is also 6 and a very serious little girl, is the other skater who made me smile this week.  As I was finished with one little girl's lesson, she mentioned that she was going to Viet Nam next week and wouldn't be at skating.  I was appropriately enthusiastic and as I collected Bridget I mentioned that her little friend was going to be in Viet Nam next week.  Bridget said "what's that?"  I told her it was a country and we determined that she had heard of China and Japan and it was sort of in that corner of the world.  She said thoughtfully:  "I had a friend who is from Hong Kong and I thought Hong Kong was in Canada. My friend told me that it took her 24 hours to get to Hong Kong from Toronto and I told her that was CRAZY!!!  24 Hours?!?!  Why didn't her family just take the car and in 3 or 4 hours she would probably be there!!"  (Apparently 3 or 4 hours is as far as you need to go to get anywhere)

I am pretty sure these stories don't happen for lawyers or accountants at their jobs.

As I run to take out the curlers and put on my grown-up clothes, once again I am reminded of how lucky I am.  Have a great day everyone!

More to come :)  Pj


 

 

 
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