You can't really blame Elvis for not attempting more of what is widely considered "artistic". He is not built for that at all and looked borderline ridiculous attempting it most of the time. I was always a fan and enjoyed his athletic prowess when it came to jumps especially, but I realize he was very limited because of his build and overall look. Lets be honest, he wasn't getting any "beauty points" and his only course of action was to actually out jump his competitors and do something different
I do have a soft spot for Stojko. If he can't be described as graceful, one can say that he moved with authority and smoothness. He had a similar problem to Midori Ito, and it probably was both his weakness and his strength, as it was with Ito. He is rather compact, with muscular short limbs and a stocky torso. Skaters with more core flexibility and the ability to create a long limb line might look more obviously artistic. Both he and Ito could generate a tremendous amount of force when they jumped, though, and since their extended limbs were closer to the core, they turned quickly and efficiently in the air.
Elvis had the misfortune to skate against two guys that looked like skate-god Romeos: Alexei Urmanov and Ilia Kulik.Maybe this is part of what counted against him. I still think Stojko came out well against them. Much as I love Kulik, I think that if Elvis had been healthy, he would have given Kulik a run for his money in 1998. I would not have been disappointed.
To be fair Kulik outskated him in Nagano, but oh lord that giraffe shirt will forever be on the worst-dressed list. Elvis would have had a hard time even healthy competing with Kulik's flawless FS.
Your comparison to Ito is spot on. Both were true technicians and were the best female and probably the second-best male jumpers ever. You'd almost forgive the lack of natural artistry because of how impressive they were as athletes.
Their command of the ice had a beauty of its own.
And Ito at least was actually very musical. You could see by her expression how much the music meant to her.
You're right that Kulik had an amazing skate at the Olympics. His jumps were gorgeous textbook affairs (and still are today, it seems). He, like Yagudin and Plushenko, spent time with Mishin. For me, Kulik's true artistry came out later, in his pro career. He still had a kind of coltish look to some of his movements in Nagano and not as much flow as he developed later.
Bad as that giraffe jacket was, at least Kulik didn't dress like a swan prince.
Poeta will forever and always belong to Stephane. Everything else will be a pale comparison to it.