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Elvis StojkoPhoto illustration The Globe and Mail. Source photo Marta Iwanek/The Canadian Press/The Canadian Press

Elvis Stojko was on the phone the other day, going deep on Norse mythology, as he is wont to do, when he mentioned that his name is derived from that of the dwarf, Alviss, which apparently means “all knowing.” At 51, he’s learned some things, sure, but a more appropriate translation of his name might be “always moving.” Skating from the age of four – winning three world figure skating singles championships and two Olympic silver medals – led to singing and acting gigs on the side. Then, about a decade ago, Stojko took an unexpected turn and jumped into race car driving. He’s still a skate crowd favourite – he wrapped up a holiday season tour of Stars on Ice this week, and will headline another one next spring. But it doesn’t take an all-knowing dwarf to understand that might not be a bad way to bring some fans to his motorsports career. And sponsors, too.

When were you happiest?

I would say now.


Basically, I understand myself. I know myself better now. Being 51 years old, being married, my wife, we have the dogs: I love where I am right now in my life.

What is a favourite trait of yours?

I always try to see the silver lining in everything, no matter now how bad it is. If it’s a really dire situation, I try to find the reasoning behind it, to see what I’m learning from it, and I find that helps me, because I’m able to bounce back from things quickly. Basically, I try to find the core of everything, whether I’m skating or racing cars or whatever. So if it’s a problem or something that comes up, I find the core of it, to understand it.


Was it difficult to find the silver lining in your Olympic silver medals?

It was, and that’s why now I’m the happiest, because I understand what it was meant for and what I learned from it to bring me to this point. Because I’m racing cars now, and all of that stuff I learned as a skater, I can apply. And you learn more when you fail than you do when you win.

What is a least-favourite trait of yours?

I get selfish sometimes.

If not yourself, who would you be?

I would have started out at Go-Karts and then be racing cars, for sure. And acting. Those are the two things I’d be doing, and I do them, but the racing is the main thing. Racing has the athleticism and acting has the art. Skating has both – the art and the athleticism.

What does motorsports give you that skating doesn’t?

I don’t have to use my legs to get from A to B. I love the type of speed that you can generate from motorsports, the adaptation you need, and the feel of the vehicle – like, to master the vehicle, you’re inside it, the engine, the dynamics of it, all the physics of driving. I just absolutely love it.

What are you currently driving?

I’m racing a Revolution car. They’re made in the UK. It’s basically a prototype car. It’s a downforce car, they’re about 800 kilograms, carbon fibre. They run about 500 horsepower, so they’re very fast cars. And that’s kind of the direction I’d like to go. Like, LMP3 [class of cars] LMP2, IMSA [International Motor Sports Association] – you know, racing Daytona.

On what occasions do you lie?

When I want to protect the people around me, the people I love. If people outside that circle ask questions, I’ll be like, Oh, they don’t need to know that. And I’ll totally redirect.

As a celebrity, I assume you’ve had to do that for decades.

I’ve had such a great relationship with the media, but there are personal things that people actually don’t need to know.

How much are you lying to me right now?

Hah. That’s a great question.

What is your idea of joy?

Living my purpose, and sharing it with the person or people that I love, and having them live their purpose.

What is your idea of misery?

Not being free. Being restricted by others, and circumstance.

What’s your favourite film?

The Empire Strikes Back. When it came out I was a kid, I was eight years old. I loved it and I loved Han Solo. I wanted to play him in a movie, and then they came out with Solo, and I was so bummed. That was one of my dreams, on my bucket list. But I loved the whole Hoth planet, and the discovery of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker and that whole thing.

Is there a historical figure you would most like to meet?

A lot of people don’t know this name, but they might: Leif Erikson.

Sure, the Norseman! We learned about him in Grade 5.

Yeah. He discovered North America.

What’s the interest?

I have a Viking connection, and I’ve always loved the Vikings. That’s why I love skating in Norway. It felt like home, back in ‘94 when I did Olympics, and I did research on it. People say, ‘Oh, Vikings, they killed everything and raped and pillaged and stole and did all this stuff,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, but then they also were amazing explorers!’ Leif Erikson’s dad, Eric the Red, he was psychotic, and a warrior. But Leif was more of an explorer, and the fact that they navigated from Norway to Iceland to Greenland, then to Newfoundland back then, was like, absolutely insane.

To be able to explore back then, when we didn’t know how vast the planet was, and they were making maps and trying to figure out where the end of the Earth was – to me, that’s so exciting. It’s the unknown.

I just love to explore, I love travel and I love the unknown, and I love movement. Kind of like being a nomad, constantly moving, and my wife likes to travel as well. And I found that was the connection with the Vikings. To me, car racing and everything else that I do, there’s always movement.

Is there a word or a phrase that you overuse?

I use the word ‘awesome’ all the time to describe anything that’s great.

Do you wish you could change that?

I do. I’ve got a friend who always says, ‘Fair enough, fair enough,’ and I laugh because it reminds me of when I do that. Especially when I was spending more time studying acting, that’s when I started noticing it more, because one of my teachers, Lewis Baumander from LB Acting in Toronto, we studied a lot on the human condition and you fall into patterns and sometimes you tune people out and then you just say what comes naturally to you – ‘Yeah, fair enough’ or ‘That was awesome.’ You just throw the word out, but you’re not really into the conversation. In acting, you have to be present. When I’m racing cars, you better be present, right? So that’s the reasoning behind why I like to try to be more aware of it. Instead of just sort of floating through life.

It may be – to reference another early ‘80s film – that you were very affected by Sean Penn’s performance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, because of course he used ‘awesome’ all the time.

AWWWESOME! Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. That’s probably where it got implanted in me.

What music are you listening to these days?

I listen to progressive metal, bands like Kamelot and DragonForce. I’m also a Breaking Benjamin fan. Shinedown. But believe it or not, I also listen to different Nordic Viking music. They use a lot of it on different Viking TV shows. There are these brothers that play drums, the Volfgang Twins. And there’s a bunch of other artists that do different types of drum-based Viking music and chants, like Danheim and Wadruna. It’s great for, like, getting prepped for racing and things like that. It is awesome.

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