by | Feb 13, 1998 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

NAGANO, Japan — What if world champion figure skater Elvis Stojko were visited tonight — on the eve of his medal-hopeful Olympic free skate — by his namesake, the real Elvis? …

“Uhhuh-huhhh, wake up, son. I gotta little sumthin’ to tell ya.”

“What the …Big Elvis? Is that you?”

“It’s me, Little Elvis. I wanna wish you luck when you go for the gold tomorrow. Make us proud, boy.”

“But Big Elvis, I’m worried.”

“Well now, why are you worried, son? I seen you jump. You’re like one of them june bugs down in Tupelo.”

“But that’s the problem. My critics say all I do is jump.”

“Ain’t that enough?”

“Not for these judges. They prefer classical.”

“Hmmph. That’s what they told me when I first started singin’.”

“They don’t like my hair.”

“You too, huh?”

“They hate my noisy music.”


“And they really don’t like my jumpsuits.”

“Tell me about it.”

“They say I’m tacky.”

“Like art in a trailer park.”

“Tacky, tacky, tacky.”

“Like a velvet oil painting.”

“What do you think, Big Elvis? Do you think there’s anything tacky about skating to ‘Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story’?”

“Son, you’re talkin’ to the man who made ‘Clambake.’ “

“Hmm. Good point.”

They treat him like a Hound Dog

“Now, tell me, Little Elvis, these judges you’re talkin’ about. What do you care what they think?”

“Well, they mark me. If I don’t get high marks, I don’t get the gold medal. Like Thursday, in my short program?”

“I was watching.”

“I hit all my jumps. I did the hardest steps. I had the crowd in my pocket.”

“You wowed ’em, is all you did.”

“But the judges gave me mediocre marks for artistic. One judge had me fourth. They just refuse to take me seriously.”

“Like music critics.”


“Can’t you hire someone to kill ’em?”


“I got Frank Sinatra’s phone number. He may know some people …”

“No, no, I have to win this on my own. I have to prove that just because I’m short and stocky and muscular and I like to throw karate kicks into my performance, there’s no reason why I can’t win the Olympics.”

“You tell ’em.”

“They keep saying, ‘Find the feminine side.’ “

“Good idea. I’ll call Ann-Margret.”

“My feminine side.”

“But …you’re a man. Look at that hair on your chest.”

“Exactly. I’m a man.”

“Spelled M-A-N.”


“Attaboy, Little Elvis. Besides, what’s the matter with a few karate kicks? My fans used to eat ’em up. A few kicks, throw some scarves into the crowd — wipe your sweaty face on ’em, chicks dig that — then go home for a peanut butter and banana sandwich.”

“Uh, Big Elvis . . .”

“OK. Forget that last part. You’re in training.”

“So karate kicks are good?”

“Sure, they’re good. Just don’t let your wife get near your karate instructor. That’s how I lost Priscilla. And you know somethin’? Since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell . . .”

“Is it down at the end of lonely street?”

“Of course not. I’m dead. There’s no streets up here.”

But he finds Peace in the Valley

“Anyhow, Big Elvis, it’s not just the kicks. The judges seem to prefer the Russian kid, Ilia Kulik, because he skates in the classical style.”

“That bony little pretty boy with the skin-colored jumpsuit and the scarves on his shoulders?”

“That’s the one.”

“Don’t be cruel!”

“It’s the truth.”

“I’ll tell you what, son; if I did Vegas in an outfit like that, I’d be on with Siegfried and Roy.”

“But they want him to win! It’s like the last Olympics. Remember? In Lillehammer? I was the only one who skated a clean short program and a clean long program, and they still gave me the silver and gave the gold to Alexei Urmanov, another classical Russian.”

“I’m all shook up.”

“They say I’m not elegant enough.”

“They must have a wooden heart.”

“I can’t help being masculine.”

“Well, that’s all right, mama.”

“Maybe I should pick some different movie music.”

” ‘Blue Hawaii’?”

“No thanks.”

” ‘Kissin’ Cousins’?”

“Not really . . .”

” ‘Spin Out’?”

“Maybe I’ll just stick with mine.”

“Now you’re talkin’, kid! You be proud of who you are. You’re an Elvis, dang it! Put a little Brylcreem in that hair, shake your hips, and go on and skate to whatever music moves you.”

“Thanks, Big E.”

“And if you don’t win the gold, try those karate kicks on some of the judges’ heads.”

“Maybe I will.”

“Now son, I gotta go. Gotta see the Colonel.”


“Sanders. Hey. You’re the one in training, not me.”

To leave a message for Mitch Albom, call 1-313-223-4581.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

Subscribe for bonus content and giveaways!