Georges Laraque's forehead is splashed with sweat, his lungs gulp for air and blood trickles from his cheek, yet his figure skating practice has barely started.
The former Montreal Canadiens forward, best known for handling opponents with his knuckles, has embarked on a mission to prove that figure skating is tougher than it gets credit for.
Only months after being captivated by the sport as a reality-show contestant, Laraque is in the middle of a tour that will see him skate in 50 pairs performances at amateur clubs across Canada. He wants to encourage skeptical boys to give it a shot, and to stick with it.
“I tell them that actually figure skating is an extreme sport, it’s tougher than hockey,” said Laraque, after catching his breath during a training session with his skating partner in the Montreal suburb of Ste-Julie. “I get a lot of stitches from figure skating — more stitches than I had in 13 years playing professional hockey in the NHL.”
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