O’Leary will host a Canadian figure skating legend this weekend.
Elvis Stojko will hold a seminar for the local figure skating club Saturday before performing in their annual ice show the next day.
A three-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist, Stojko does many shows in small towns across Canada.
“I enjoy skating for the towns. They’re really appreciative. It’s something I enjoy and it’s fun times with the kids.”
Stojko appreciates it can be hard for fans in isolated places like P.E.I. to see top talent on display.
Young figure skaters often ask him how to do jumps – Stojko was the first man to land a quadruple jump in combination in 1991 – but he said it’s about more than sport.
“I teach them about going after what they believe in, to go after what they want in life.
“All the things you learn from skating can apply to other things in life. It’s giving you tools that will extend beyond just skating itself. For me, it’s mentorship.”
Learning from a former world-class figure skater is a rare opportunity, and Stojko said he feeds off that energy.
“They treat you like gold. Small towns are always awesome. They get all excited and it’s fun to skate for them. They’re just so pumped to have you there.”
He enjoys the opportunity to see parts of Canada he wouldn’t otherwise get to.
“I’m going to P.E.I., which I love. It’s beautiful there. As long as we don’t have a snowstorm, I can get there on time.
“I’m very fortunate I’m still doing it and can still do it and am still being asked to do it.”
O’Leary figure skating coach Julie MacNeill said the idea to bring in Stojko came from a parent.
“In all fairness, a lot of the kids didn’t know who he was … once he gets here and they get to see him perform live, I think they’ll be pleased. Nothing like that ever happens. The odd time they come to P.E.I., but they never come to West Prince.”
She expects the ice show to sell out with Stojko on the bill.
“That just opens it up to another whole audience. It means our ice show will probably be widely attended in comparison to when it’s just our local skaters.”
Stojko’s seminar was capped at 60 skaters, so those who miss out on that can see him the next day, MacNeill said.
“I just think it’s a neat opportunity for the skating community.”
When he’s not skating, Stojko is busy with a budding acting career.
“The biggest thing I’m working on is going to acting school and doing a lot of film work. Acting is a real direction I want to take. I focus on it quite a bit.”
He and his wife recently bought a 100-acre property outside Toronto. They and their three dogs appreciate the change of pace. “We enjoy nature.” firstname.lastname@example.org