Home Figure Skating News Jozef Sabovcik: Online Interview

Jozef Sabovcik: Online Interview

by Golden Skate
Barry Mittan

Jozef Sabovcik performs a split jump at the 1995 World Team Championships.

Jozef Sabovcik began skating at the age of six, after his grandmother took him to an ice rink. “If it hadn’t been for her, I probably never would have stuck with it, so I pretty much owe all of my success to her,” said Jozef.

Sabovcik has been skating for more that 30 years and can still do all the triple jumps as well as a quad toe-loop. As an amateur, he became a 6-time National Champion of Czechoslovakia, 2-time European Champion, and an Olympic bronze medalist. As a professional, he achieved the title of a US Open Champion, World Professional Champion, 2-time World Professional Team Champion, and performed in countless TV specials and shows.

The exposure that Sabovcik received on TV, as well as his choice in music, afforded him the opportunity to meet, and in many cases, become friends with the artists that performed the music he skated to. His biggest victory, however, came off the ice when he was awarded sole custody of his son (Blade) after a long divorce and custody battle. “It’seems with that, my life is pretty complete and I couldn’t be happier,” said Sabovcik.

In 1995, he settled down in Salt Lake City, Utah where he currently lives with his wife (Jennifer) and son. “Right now my main priority is still skating and performing, but I am starting to look into the future. As much as I love doing what I’m doing, I know that I can’t do that forever. So whenever I’m at home, I like to work with the kids at my rink on a regular basis,” said Sabovcik. “Also, Jennifer is currently four months pregnant and we are extremely excited about this new addition to our family,” he added happily.

Lori: Love to see you skate! Where can one see you perform? Any U. S. shows in the near future?

Jozef: In the past year I have been doing a lot of stuff in Japan and Europe. This year it looks like I’might be doing even more in Europe, although nothing is set in stone yet. After the New Year, I performed in Brian Boitano’s Ice Spectacular and there are some plans for me to do some short tours. Hopefully everything will get done and I will skate more in the United States and Canada, because this is where I live, so this is where I like to perform. But I came from Europe, so I can’t forget about them.

Anonymous: How did you first’start’skating? Do you have any brothers and sisters?

Jozef: I started skating when I was 6-years-old. It was really my Grandmother who took me on the ice for the first time. She made sure I stayed there after I had convinced her that this is what I wanted to do. Without her, I never would have become what I am today. As for brothers and sister, I don’t have any.

Mary: What keeps you motivated?

Jozef: The love of skating. I cannot imagine my life without it. There is this incredible sense of freedom associated with skating, jumping and spinning that I don’t think I could live without. Although it is true that it hurts sometimes (sometimes it hurts a lot), it is never bad enough to say, “I don’t want to do this anymore”. Performing is another thing that keeps me going. The feeling that I get from the audience when I have skated a good number and they understood and appreciated what I tried to do out there, is something that is very addicting in a good way. Once you know that feeling, it is hard to go without. Unfortunately there’s no way to keep doing what I’m doing forever, so one day I will have to say goodbye to it all and just live with the memory.

Mark R: I know your son Blade is probably old enough to start taking an interest in skating. Is he showing any leanings toward skating or is one world class skater in the family enough?

Jozef: Blade is 10-years-old right now and he is skating a little bit. He seems to like it and he is pretty good at it, considering he only skates three times a week. So far it’s not very serious, but pretty soon he will have to make a decision whether he wants to skate for “real” or just for fun. I’m not pushing him into it, but it’s not because I think that one “world class skater” is enough. I want him to be the best that he can be in anything he tries and ultimately, I want him to be better than I was. That’s what you want from your kids when you are a parent. But it needs to come from him; otherwise it would be what I wanted him to be and not what he wanted to be. All I can do is try to guide him in the right direction so he can make the right choices for himself.

John G.: How long did it take you to learn your incredible back flip? Will you be visiting and/or performing in the Toronto area in the near future? Keep up all the great work and keep on rocking!!!

Jozef: It was a gradual process. I learned my back flip on the floor first, many years before I did it on the ice. While I was still competing in amateur competitions, no one would let me try it on the ice, because they all feared that I would injure myself. The first back flip on the ice I did in was 1988 and it was a “normal” one. But man, what a feeling it was!!! Eventually, as I grew more comfortable doing them in any situation and on any size ice, I became a little bored with doing them the same way all the time, so I started experimenting. Besides, there were a lot of guys that were doing back flips at that time, so there was nothing special about the one I did. I started stretching my legs in the air, all the while thinking that it looked like the back flip that Robin Cousins did. It was about two years of me doing it this way before I finally saw it on TV and I realized that it was nothing like Robin’s, but I liked the way it looked so I just kept on doing it my way.

Paula: How do you manage to do the back flip without bending your knees?

Jozef: It developed over time. About ten years ago I started to straighten my knees gradually, but I had no idea what it looked like. I have to say that I was pretty surprised when I finally did see it. All I really wanted to do was to stay in the air as long as possible, because it really feels like floating… it’s really a cool feeling. So I didn’t really practice doing a layout, it just’sort of happened. And when I realized that I’may have something there, I really tried to do it as big as I could, because I knew that nobody else was doing that. There are a lot of back flips around, so I did want mine to be different from the others. I guess it kind of worked.

Meagan L.: How were you selected for your role in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the SLC Olympic Winter Games?

Jozef: I really don’t know what the process was for selecting a skater for the role that eventually became mine. All I can’tell you is that, Sarah Kawahara, who choreographed the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, called me one day and asked me if I would be interested. There was a brief pause on my end, not because I had to think about it but because I became momentarily speechless. Then I finally answered and the rest, as they say, is history.

Singerskates: If you could have any jump that Elvis Stojko does or did, what jump would that be? Would you ever consider competing in adult’skating events if there was a category called Extreme Masters for amateur and pro skaters 30 and over?

Jozef: I could and still can do all the jumps that he can do. I’m not’saying that I can do them better than him, I just do them my way. I would never want to do someone else’s jumps because then they wouldn’t be mine. But if I could choose something from Elvis, it would be his consistency in jumps and his work ethic during his amateur days. I have always admired that about him, his ability to perform at his best under pressure. Then again, I admire that about every skater that can do that. As far as competing again? I don’t know if I still have it in me. You have to train differently for a competition than you do for a show. But I never say “never”. It will have to happen soon though, because I’m not getting any younger.

Katarina from Slovakia: Do you currently coach? How did it feel to participate at the Olympic ceremony? You were great!

Jozef: I do coach a little bit when I’m at home between shows. It is something that I would like to do full time when I retire for good from performing. You can’t do both. Teaching kids is a full time job and you have to be there for them. it’s kind of like being a parent, only in a different capacity. For now, I try to help them on the technical level and they seem to like me enough to listen to me. To be in the Opening Ceremonies was a great honor. The feeling that I had when I was surrounded by 700 children with their lanterns lit up, was one that I will never forget. It is hard to describe. All I can say is that it was unbelievable. I’m grateful that I was given an opportunity to experience that.

Katarina from Slovakia: Do you miss competitions or do you like shows much more? Thank you!

Jozef: Sometimes, but not as much as I would have thought. However there were different types of competitions in the professional ranks. The ones that I do miss quite a bit to this day are the Team competitions, like World Team and Ice Wars. Those were so much fun to do and even though we were doing our hardest tricks, we were also genuinely having one hell of a good time. If you ever saw one of those on TV, I think that you could tell how much fun we were having.

Paula: What is your involvement with Meatloaf? Are there plans to skate to their music – live or otherwise in the future? Are there any videos in the making?

Jozef: After I have skated to Heaven Can Wait, there was some talk that we might do something together, but Meat got really busy with his acting and put the music stuff on a back burner for a while. The possibility is not dead yet, so we’ll see in the future. As a matter of fact I have been involved with Joe Lamont, who has produced many different things, but never a skating event and he is very interested in trying it out. Right now we are talking with Alice Cooper about a possible collaboration on a Halloween Special. Alice is very interested and we know that he will be free next October. If we could pull it off I would really like to include Meatloaf in it. But these things take a long time to materialize, especially if you are trying to find sponsors or investors. It may not happen at all, but it would be really cool if it did. Let’s hope.

Paula: Are you working on any new programs, and if so, can you share the material with us?

Jozef: Right now I have two new programs that’stewart and I have done for this season and so far that’seems to be enough. We started working on a new one, but we got a little bit’stuck, so it’s best to let lie. The way it works for me is that if it is the right music for me, than we usually get it done in a couple of days. If however we start’struggling a bit, most likely it’s not the right kind of a program, or the wrong approach. There are some pieces of music that I have had cut for a long time and we never got around to doing them. One of them is an instrumental by Savatage. I would really like to do it, so don’t be surprised if you hear more Savatage in the future.

Paula: You are quite the artist! I could elaborate so much on the various pieces you’ve done. Was The Unforgiven inspired by the ballad from Metallica?

Jozef: It was. Really the idea came from their video. All of the paintings that you may have seen came from a very dark period of mine and it’seemed like a good idea to get it off me this way, rather that doing something stupid. I got pretty much inspired by anything that I saw. I still paint’sometimes, but it’seems like I don’t have as much time anymore. Most of my stuff is still very dark in color, and because I love black and red. They may seem a little menacing, but the subjects are a lot happier than before. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time to paint as I would like, but I know that’someday I will get back into it. I have a lot of ideas that I would like to put down on a canvas and I keep them all sketched or just written down. When I finally have the time to paint, I will probably disappear for some time until I get them all done.

Paula: Is it true that you have a CD coming out with Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO), and if so, are you going to be doing more collaboration with them or any other bands? Any chance of seeing you covering “The Boss” songs? Any plans for touring with TSO?

Jozef: Well, I don’t know at this point. We are still talking about it, but we can’t’seem to find the time. I would like nothing better than to go into a studio with the band and record with them, but we all have our own things to do. I don’t like to do things halfway just to get them done. Things have their own way of working themselves out and if it’s meant to be, then it will happen. I also think that I need to get a lot better as a singer before I can do anything with a band like TSO. I want to be able to hold my own with them and not be “created in the studio” like a lot’singers are these days. As far as seeing me covering Bruce – I’ve already done it. Stewart’sturgeon and I have a band called The Thin Ice Band and we did Secret Garden on the ice with me on vocals, Stu on a guitar and a friend of ours, Scott Irvine, on bass. We both skated in the number and I can’t tell you how much fun that was. But we are getting better as a band and now we are more interested in writing our own songs. That is a whole new world for us and we are still learning how to do it as a band. With no formal training, it takes us a lot more time to come up with something, but the stuff that we have I really like. It is always fun when we get together to jam to run through songs by Bruce [Springsteen], Creed, Pink Floyd and many others, but we always work on our own stuff. When we have some songs that are ready, I’ll post them up on my web site and you can give us your feedback.

Paula: Any chances of you ever doing any programs to ballads by Metallica?

Jozef: I haven’t really thought about it. The only one that I would have liked to have done is Nothing Else Matters, but’steven Cousins already skated to it, so that one is out of the question. But their music has been getting a little less heavy and more melodic in the past few years, so you never know.

Paula: Other then Bruce Springsteen, which artists/groups do you enjoy listening to?

Jozef: I own about 1600 CD’s so it would take a few pages to list all the ones that I like, but here’s a few: Savatage, TSO, Great White, Pink Floyd, W.A.S.P., Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson, Thunder, Whitesnake, Smokie (from my youth), Asia, Bryan Adams, Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Ozzy, AC/DC, Pat Benatar, Lita Ford, Chris Norman (from my youth), Alice Cooper, Foreigner, Queen, Status Quo, Billy Squire, Slade, Tom Petty… and the list goes on and on…

Paula: Are you going to be choreographing for skaters?

Jozef: I haven’t done any choreography for skaters yet and I don’t think that would be my thing. I like to work on jump technique. That is something that I would like to get into when I’m old and no one wants to see me anymore throwing my body around on the ice.

Paula: How many years of performing/competing do you think you still have left taking into consideration your barring injuries?

Jozef: It really depends. I love what I do and as long as I still feel like I have something to offer and people are still interested in seeing me out there, I’ll keep doing it. If, however, I don’t feel anymore pleasure in performing, than I’ll know it’s time to go. For me, it’s really important to be able to be proud of what I do and not feel like I have cheated. What I love the most about’skating and performing is jumping. And if I can’t do a triple lutz anymore I’ll have no interest in doing it.

Paula: In the unlikely event that there were to be any more US Open competitions, would you consider competing?

Jozef: I think that if there’ll be any more of those I’ll do it, providing I can still do all the jumps that I would want to have in my program. So far I can still do them all, including the triple Axel and quad toe-loop, but there are no guarantees. Creeping age and a deteriorating body from years of abusing it on the ice are ruthless enemies of every skater and athlete. So far, I have to be thankful that I have been able to keep dodging them.

Paula: Do you ever regret that you didn’t get to go further as an amateur?

Jozef: No, never. I think that I did get pretty far, certainly farther that I would have thought in my wildest dreams. The thing is that I had to do things my way, meaning I wanted to enjoy life and train and compete at the same time. Perhaps I could have done more with my amateur career if I gave up the “good things in life” (although I seriously doubt it), but it would not have been any fun and I probably would not have stuck with it. You’ve got to love what you do and for me it was a compromise between skating and being a teenager at the same and being pretty good at both.

Paula: Other than skating, has Blade shown interest in other sports?

Jozef: For a while it looked like he was going to be a soccer player. In fact he didn’t’skate last year at all and just played soccer. He is really good at it and it was fun for me to learn about a different’sport from the inside so to speak. But then the Olympics came to Salt Lake and Blade wanted to be one of the ‘Children of Light’. Well, what kid wouldn’t want to be involved in something that huge? After that he wanted to skate again and it’seems like this is it for him. He skates 3 times a week, so for now it’s not terribly serious, but when he’s out there he’s working hard. That’s all I ask of him. He has a lot of catching up to do, because of the missed time when he played soccer. So who knows where it will lead to? I don’t really care if he becomes a champion. I just want him to be happy, that’s all.

Paula: Will you be skating in Sun Valley, Idaho this summer?

Jozef: Yes, this will be my 11th season. I won’t be staying there the whole summer like I did in the past. I’ll still do all the shows, but I’ll be driving back and forth. Sun Valley used to be the closest thing to having a home before I settled down here, but now, well, home is home.

Paula: Which skaters do you admire and why?

Jozef: There have been a lot of skaters that I have admired and still admire for different reasons, even though some of them don’t’skate anymore. Toller Cranston for taking all the risks at a time when risks were not really tolerated. Robin Cousins, for the beauty of his skating, Terry Kubicka for doing the first back flip and in doing so, made me want to do it’so bad I could taste it even back when I was 12-years-old. Gordy McKellen for doing the first real triple Axel, which made me want rotate in the air as long as I could. Scott Hamilton for just being the person that he is on and off the ice. Ondrej Nepela who came from my hometown and became a 3-time World Champion and Olympic gold medalist, for being very kind to me and showing me that anything that you set your mind to was possible. Brian Orser, Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko and countless others for being my friends and considering my jumping ability to be on par with theirs.

Paula: Your book, Jumpin’ Joe: The Jozef Sabovcik Story, was very powerful! I found it emotionally enlightening. It couldn’t have been easy to write it. What inspired you?

Jozef: My writer, Lynda Prouse, who made me feel like she really cared about my story. We stayed friends after the book was finished and are working on some other stuff together. It wasn’t easy to write, but it was a very good process thanks to Lynda. Sometimes it really helps to put things and emotions down on paper, because that way you can organize them better than just thinking about them in your head. And when you do that, you can leave the “bad” stuff behind and look into the future. Last year we got together again to update the book, which will be re-released in spring of 2003. There are three new chapters and the original text is re-edited. There was some stuff that was left out of the original release, so now it will be exactly how we wrote it. It was a lot of fun to work on this book again with Lynda, because this time the three new chapters are a lot happier and therefore were a lot easier to write. One of them doesn’t’seem that happy, but it really is if you know the outcome. I’m really glad that the book is being re-released, because where the original book ended it left a lot of things unsaid and open-ended. This time, we had a chance to end it the right way. I hope that you’ll agree with me when you read the new release.

Paula: Can you tell or “feel” if the audience is behind you when you are skating to a new piece of music or program?

Jozef: Absolutely!!! Sometimes I think I wouldn’t be able to finish a program without their help, that’s how tired I sometimes get. Like when I used to do Trapped, I felt great until I got off the ice and realized I could barely stand up. They make me want to give more and I do try to give more, without realizing that I’m going to edge of my powers, but that’s what makes it great. That’s what keeps me going. I think I finally understand how Bruce [Springsteen] can do a 3-4 hour concert going full out. The audience has a tremendous amount of power and energy and when they are willing to share some of it with me, there just isn’t anything like it.

Paula: Would you ever consider skating to music other then rock? If so, which pieces would you be interested in skating to?

Jozef: Oh I used to do my share of classical, and I hated it. Now I can at least appreciate the beauty and the power of some of the pieces. And if I find something that would move me enough and that no one has done before, then maybe. But’still I’m a rocker and that’s what I feel the most. Anything else…country…I don’t think so, unless it was done by Bruce, who actually has a few songs that have a country flavor, which would be a great compromise… dance or hip hop… CAN’T DANCE, nor do I want to. So I guess I’m really stuck doing what I love best and that’s not’such a bad thing.

Paula: Do you like living in the United States compared to Canada?

Jozef: I’m a Slovak and Canadian citizen but am a permanent resident of Utah and I love it here. Home is where you make it or where you have your friends. And I ended up here because of my friend Stewart’sturgeon who is my choreographer. When we didn’t have time to finish one of my programs in Sun Valley, he asked me to come to Utah and I never left. On top of Stewart was teaching my girlfriend Jennifer (who later on became my lovely wife), as she was living here as well. It was really a no-brainer why I wanted to stay here.

Paula: Will you be performing or competing in any events soon, and if so, when and where?

Jozef: This year has been really weird for everyone. I have been doing a lot of stuff, but not much of it on TV. Except for the afore mentioned, I will probably be going to Europe for a few shows and everything else is still being worked. I have a new management (IMG), which I’m really happy about. I’might be doing a tour in Europe, but no contracts have been signed yet, although we are very close. Plus, there is something surprising in the works here in the US, but I can’t talk about it yet. All I can say is that I really hope it happens, because it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do.

Paula: How do you feel about all the upcoming skaters that are putting so much emphasis on the quad? You played a very important role in the “quad,” however, it’seems that’skaters are more focused on the quad now then the rest of their program. What advice, if any, do you have on this issue for the younger men coming up through the ranks?

Jozef: It is very exciting to see all those young guys pushing the limits. There is, however, a little too much emphasis on the jumps. In order for it all to work, I believe that there’should be a balance in the program itself. But 4½ minutes is a very short time to accomplish all of that. So they have to do what the judges expect from them if they want to be competitive. Who knows where it will all go. All those young guys are very talented and if they want to win, they have to put all those jumps in, which leaves little room for entertaining the audience. There are some of them, like Alexei Yagudin, who manages to do both. He has great jumps, but even if he misses some during his program, you are always left with the impression that you have seen something special. That is very rare these days. I just hope that there will be more skaters like him coming up in the future. Of course he’s not the only one that has the ability to pull this off. There have been many skaters like that in the past, Scott Hamilton, Kurt, both Brians and so on. I just mentioned Alexei, not only because he’s a friend of mine but because he is an Olympic Champion, so therefore he’s a great’skater to look up to.

Paula: Do you plan to coach when you decide to stop touring and/or competing?

Jozef: I think so. As a matter of fact I’m teaching a little bit right now. I love working with kids, and what really interests me is working on the technique. I’d like to start with little kids and teach them from the beginning, because that’s when all the good and bad habits develop, which are really hard to break when they get older. There are some kids I work with right now, whenever I’m at home and it is really rewarding to see them try so hard to do it the way I want them to do it. I still work with them primarily on jumps and jumping technique, but I have also started to work off ice with most of them, so time will tell how much they will improve. The challenge is to figure out what works for each individual skater and you as a coach have to adjust your approach accordingly to each skater. What works for one may not work for the next one. But as they say “All roads lead to Rome”. Different approaches will lead to the same place (hopefully), and in this case the destination should be the right technique.

Paula: What do you think will be the determining factor for you in deciding that you want to retire?

Jozef: Not being able to jump or perform at the level that I’d like to. I don’t want to cheat the people that pay for the tickets. They come to see me jump and if I can’t give them that, than it’s time to go. Also I don’t want to ruin my knees completely, because I really enjoy playing with Blade and he is pretty active. But the other factor that comes into play is the one that I have not considered just yet. In order to perform at the level that I want, I have to put in the time to train, go through the pain, fall, get up and try again. As you get older, you don’t’succumb to these things as easily as when you were young, because you have a choice. I can either go through the pain of training to perform, or I can coach and spend more time with my family. it’s really a catch-22. I love what I do, but if the fire to train and be ready for my performances will go out of me, then even though I will be still able to do my triple lutzes and whatever else, I will know that it is time for me to bow out.

Paula: You have one of the best tuck Axels. Is this your favorite jump? If not, what is your favorite jump to perform? Which is your least favorite and why?

Jozef: Does anybody else do them? If they do I’d like to see it. it’s like a dying jump, with all the triples and quads; nobody takes the time to do a real simple jump. Sometimes there is beauty in simplicity and I think an open Axel is very beautiful. A tuck Axel is basically the same thing, but it has a little more edge to it, which is great for me, because I can use it with my rock numbers. If you noticed in my slower, quieter programs I always do an open Axel as it’s better suited for that kind of music. I do like Axels a lot, all of them, and I like to do toe jumps (i.e. toe-loop, lutz and flip). Edge jumps are not my favorite, but I still like doing them. Loop would have to be my least favorite, but in the past few months, I have become quite fond of it. Probably because I have been landing them again! HA! HA!

Paula: In your repertoire of programs, which three are your favorites to perform and why?

Jozef: I always enjoy my new programs, because they are fresh. But there are a few sentimental favorites that I like to do from time to time, even though they are quite old. it’s hard to choose three, because there are more than that, but… Trapped, Heaven Can Wait, and Rock Me, but you could add a few more. Right now I’m doing a number called Lift Me Up by Bruce, but you would not be able to tell it’s him singing. He does the whole thing in falsetto and gives the music an almost’surreal sound. I really like doing that one. A lot of times it’s the latest number that is my favorite, so it’s hard for me to tell.

Paula: Rumor has it that you set off a fire alarm in the middle of the night during a Skate Canada competition in order to see all the women without make-up! Is this true and if so, can you share the details? Are there any other mischievous pranks that you pulled that you can share with us?

Jozef: Well… we all were young at one time. It is true and it was fun. Real fun. However it was done after the competition was over, not as it has been reported that I did it before or on the day of the competition. We used to do a lot fun things back then, but I’m afraid that most of it would have to be censored and it would lose its charm. Perhaps one day I’ll write another book with all those stories in it. But for now, it’s better left unsaid. After all children could be reading this.

Paula: How did you feel when you were forced out of the 1986 World Champions due to your knee injury?

Jozef: I can say that I wish that I had been forced out. In truth I had to skate the long program, because my federation didn’t believe that I really had something wrong with my knee. It was the hardest 4½ minutes of my skating career, knowing that I had to finish, but could hardly walk, let alone skate. it’s something I would rather forget. I have it on a video tape, but I have never watched it.

Paula: How much does this injury still affect your skating today?

Jozef: Knock on wood, so far my knees are holding together. So I guess the answer to that is not much. However with getting older, you become aware of little pains in places you never thought about before, but that just comes with the job. As long as I take care of myself, I’m fine. The other thing that comes with the job is traveling and that I think is the hardest thing of all – especially if you already have an injury. But who am I to complain? As far as I’m concerned, I have the best job in the world. And so does every athlete out there.

Paula: Is it true that you are fluent in six languages? Which ones?

Jozef: it’s really only five. Slovak, Czech, English, Russian and German. German is starting to fade on me a little bit, because I don’t practice it at all these days, but if I spend a few days in Germany it usually comes back pretty quickly.

Paula: Do you feel that men’s skating in general has changed over the past ten years and if so, in what way?

Jozef: Ever since figures were taken out, I think there is too much emphasis on the jumps, which doesn’t leave much room for creativity. Plus, with all the changes that Russia went through, the field of skaters is so large now that they have to have an elimination round. That makes it a lot harder when you consider you have to do two long programs in one competition. In my opinion, the quality of skating itself (not jumping) has gone down. Figures taught how to use edges, like Robin Cousins and Brian Boitano still do, that with a couple of pushes they can get across the whole rink, you don’t’see that with the new skaters. On the other hand, now you see skaters that would never have made it to international competitions before because their figures might not have been good enough even though their free style was great. Figures and free style are really different from each other and having both was what made the champion “in the old days.” it’s kind of like gymnastics, having to master all the different apparatuses.

Paula: What area(s) do you feel your skating could use improvement in?

Jozef: Spins. I hate doing them, always did. And I don’t’spend enough time doing footwork.

Paula: What do you feel are your strengths in skating?

Jozef: Jumps. I love jumping and I always have. I also think that if all the elements are in place, I can get the audience involved in my programs. That’s because I really believe in the music I skate to. it’s not only that I like the music and would listen to it off the ice, but I choose songs that actually mean something to me on a personal level. That way I can be more believable when I perform it. it’s very much like a singer who goes on stage to perform a song that he or she wrote themselves.

Paula: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Jozef: Besides spending time with Blade and Jennifer, I like to read a lot. I read about 20 books a year. I also spend too much time on the computer. I love to edit music, play with graphics, but I think most of all I love to play games. That’s something that Blade and I have in common. I love to paint, but lately I haven’t done much of that. It goes in stages. I have to focus on one thing and when I get bored with that one I go to another one. In a sense, I have too many hobbies, which is a good thing, because I never really get tired of any one of them.

Paula: Who are your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite books?

Jozef: Stephen King, Brian Lumley, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz, John Saul and countless other horror writers. I like anything by S. King. I really liked the Necroscope series by B. Lumley and The Great And Secret’show, Everville, and Imajica by C. Barker. These, as you can see are all horror books, but they all have a great’storytelling and strange twist. I’m also a big Agatha Christie fan as well as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes stories.

Paula: What movies or TV shows do you enjoy?

Jozef: X-Files hands down. I live for that’show. I like Friends but nothing will ever come close to the X-Files. In all honesty, when the X-Files series finished, I needed a little break from a serious drama on TV. So out of nowhere comes this reality show called The Osbournes. Now I already liked Ozzy already, so you didn’t have to twist my arm to watch a show about him and his family. Tuesday nights have become our “family nights”.

Paula: Who are your favorite actors and actresses?

Jozef: Jack Nicholson and Jack Nicholson. He is the coolest and always will be. Of course I love David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. There are a lot of other ones that I really like to watch like Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer… .

Paula: Your fans are very appreciative of the time you took to answer their questions! They send their best wishes, love, and success in all your future endeavors. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Jozef: The fans are the ones that make it all possible for me to do what I like to do best. Without them there would be no “Jumpin’ Joe”. So when I perform, it’s first for them, then for me and then for the judges (if it’s a competition). Competing is quite hard in that I have to find balance between trying to please the fans and myself and including all the stuff that would make me competitive. That’s why I prefer to do shows, because there you can’throw the rules out the window. My fans have been very good to me over the years and I’m very grateful to them for their support. — Jozef Sabovcik

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