A made-for-television film shot in Sudbury last fall starring Canadian figure skating legend Elvis Stojko airs on the Family Channel at 8 p.m. March 11.
"Ice Girls" features Stojko as Mercury, a local ice rink manager and former figure skater who helps teenage skater Mattie Dane (played by Toronto skater Michaela Du Toit) recover from a number of hardships. Mattie's mother is played by Lara Daans, herself a former competitive skater.
The film also features Natasha Henstridge as the mother of Mattie's rival, Heather. Another prominent Canadian figure skater — Olympic gold medallist Tessa Virtue — also makes an appearance.
After retiring from competitive skating in 2002, 43-year-old Stojko — a three-time world champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist — has certainly kept busy.
Stojko, who recently gave a phone interview to NorthernLife.ca, moved to Mexico in 2001, and in 2010, married Mexican figure skater Gladys Orozco. The couple relocated to Richmond Hill in 2014 for career reasons.
Besides regularly appearing in skating shows — often alongside his wife — Stojko got into acting and, interestingly, go-cart racing (he said he's loved motor sports since he was a kid, and started racing in Mexico).
Stojko said he'd like to focus more on his acting career, though, and is even taking acting classes.
He has already appeared in a number of stage shows, including a 2014 Broadway production of "Chicago," in which he played Billy Flynn. Fun fact: Stojko was even Robin Williams' stunt double in the 2002 film "Death to Smoochy."
Stojko was originally supposed to play a small part in "Ice Girls" as the choreographer, but they ended up giving him the lead role.
In some ways, he's a natural at acting, as skating involves performing, he said. Acting gives him a creative outlet that's less physically taxing, although Stojko said he's still in good shape for skating.
“I love the process of trying to dig deep and find the emotion to pull from,” Stojko said. “It's a great outlet for me. It's something I can do until I'm 100 and something.”
He said he enjoyed his experience with "Ice Girls" — during lulls in filming at the Countryside and Walden arenas, he gave Du Toit tips on improving her jumps, which improved their on-ice chemistry.
Sudbury itself also has a special place in Stojko's heart.
“That's where I jumped onto the scene, with my first Canadian championships as a senior back in 1990,” he said. “I made my first world team there. It was an amazing time for me.”
Du Toit said she loved working with Stojko. Coincidentally, the 16-year-old trains alongside Stojko at the Richmond Training Centre.
“Oh my gosh, it was amazing,” said the two-time South African junior national champion and one-time South African senior national champion (her parents originally come from the country).
“I was so excited when I heard he was involved. I couldn't believe it, because I've always admired him as a skater and to work with him was just unbelievable. He's such a great mentor on and off the ice. I learned so much.”
Learn more about "Ice Girls" at www.family.ca.