TORONTO - Elvis Stojko is not a fan of figure skating's new team event.
And if this were the 1998 Nagano Olympics and not the 2014 Games in Sochi, the two-time Olympic silver medallist says he would have refused to skate in the event that's making its Olympic debut in Russia.
"I understand the concept, but for someone like myself, if they had that, I'd be like 'No, I'm focusing on my thing,'" Stojko said.
Ten countries, each featuring a men's, women's, pairs team and ice dance couple, will compete in the team event, which begins Feb. 6 — the day before the opening ceremonies and five days before the individual figure skating events begin.
And Canada, with three-time world champion Patrick Chan and Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, will be a favourite to win the discipline's first-ever gold medal.
But the 41-year-old Stojko, a three time world champion, said the team event is too taxing for any skater who's in the hunt for Olympic gold.
"It does take a lot out of you physically," Stojko said. "You don't want to do that ultimate performance in the team event, because then you've got to redo it again in your own event, and that's where it's hard to balance. If you're just going for the team, it's different, you can focus on just the team, and then that's it. To do both, it's very difficult.
"It's like adding another race five or six days before you do your thing. If you're a medal hopeful and you're focused and you're ready to go, that's what you focus on and that's your discipline. When you've got to do it again beforehand, it's kind of tough."
The team competition is one of 12 events in eight sports that will make their debut in Sochi.
Stojko, who was in Toronto on Wednesday for Sport Chek's unveiling of the Adidas Canadian Olympic team collection of clothing and footwear, can see the rationale behind the event.
"I know what they're trying to do, they're trying to promote skating, trying to give a different angle, trying to create opportunities for medals," he said.
"You've got people who go to Olympics and win five medals, and we get one."
He compared the team event — unfavourably — to the old preliminary round, which skaters in his era had to do to qualify for the main event.
"We hated the preliminary rounds, because you do a long program, and you don't want to blow everything, but you want to make sure that you're up there," he said. "And doing a full long program like that, it does take a lot out of the body, especially now with the guys doing more than one quad, the programs are more packed. It's hard, it's really hard on the athletes."
Chan, who has his sights set on gold in Sochi, has two quad jumps in his long program and one in his short. The 22-year-old from Toronto would have to skate as many as four times in nine days. Teams can make two substitutions — either two individual skaters, or one individual skater and one pairs team, for example, so Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., could skate the short program, if he qualifies for Sochi, and Chan could skate the long.
The field is narrowed from 10 countries to five after the short program.
The Canadians should battle the U.S., Japan and Russia for gold, and could have a chance to collect the country's first gold of the Games.
Other sports that will award medals before the figure skating team event are speed skating (men's 5,000 metres and women's 3,000 metres), men's ski jumping, biathlon (men's 10 kilometre sprint and women's 7.5 km sprint), the men's downhill, cross-country skiing (men's and women's skiathlon), freestyle skiing (women's moguls), and snowboarding (men's and women's slopestyle).
Stojko, meanwhile, has kept busy since he turned pro in 2002. He's a regular on the professional skating circuit, races go-karts with an eye to making a career in car racing, he'll play lawyer Billy Flynn in an upcoming production of "Chicago, the Musical," which opens in Toronto in March, and has an autobiography coming out in the next few weeks.