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Rocked with Yagudin and mysteriously ended up in Sochi: unknown facts about Plushenko

Evgeni Plushenko is 40. How fast time flies! It seems that quite recently, at the Yubileiny training rink, Alexei Mishin, pointing to an awkward boy, said: “Remember this name – Zhenya Plushenko. You will feed on materials about him for many more years.”

Tarasova won the Olympic duel against Mishin
The young figure skater had just moved to St. Petersburg from Volgograd, where he started with Mikhail Makoveev. The 90s were in the yard, dashing times, on the site of ice rinks in provincial cities, clothing markets or warehouses of Chinese consumer goods were opened. Life in figure skating flickered only in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Makoveev himself sent his best students, Plushenko and Maxim Marinin, to St. Petersburg.At the age of 15, Plushenko made his debut at the European Championship. Of the three participants in the 1998 Olympics, only Alexei Yagudin went to Milan, who won the European gold. Young Plushenko and Alexander Abt, who replaced Ilya Kulik and Alexei Urmanov, joined their senior comrade on the pedestal. I remember not so much Plushenko's skates at the deserted Milan sports palace, but the impromptu football match played between figure skaters from the countries of the former USSR and the rest of Europe in the stands under the stands. In our team, the undisputed leader was Mikhail Shmerkin from Odessa, who represented Israel, but how passionate was 15-year-old Plushenko!

Contrary to popular belief, at that time he and Alexei Yagudin were not irreconcilable antagonists. After the end of the competition, the hussars played together so famously that Mishin had to take educational measures. After Nagano, the Professor decided to bet on the younger, and most importantly, more manageable Eugene. Moreover, in the same 1998, Plushenko made a confident debut at the World Championships in Minneapolis, winning bronze on the move. Yagudin became the champion, but let's not forget: Evgeny is two and a half years younger than Alexei.Four years from Nagano to Salt Lake City passed under the sign of rivalry between two students of Mishin – who left for Tatyana Tarasova, feeling some cooling from the former coach, Yagudin, and remaining faithful to Plushenko's mentor. The collaboration of a great coach and a great figure skater in our time, when at the first failure an athlete leaves the group where he was made the champion, is a unique phenomenon. Perhaps only Zhanna Gromova and Irina Slutskaya had the same story."I am grateful to Lesha Urmanov, who made me the coach of the Olympic champion, and infinitely grateful to Zhenya Plushenko, who for many years provided me with a reputation as a top coach", Mishin once said in a frank conversation.

Not only Plushenko, but also his highly experienced coach were not ready for the informational attacks and pressure that was exerted on Evgeny in all competitions. Nervous, the Professor decided in the course of the season to change the excellent free program “The Life of an Artist” to the music from the film “Moulin Rouge” for, as he thought, the championship “Carmen”. They even sacrificed the European Championship, but in Salt Lake City Plushenko fell from the quadruple jump in the short program, which had not happened to him for many years. And in the free program “The Man in the Iron Mask” Yagudin was rated higher than “Carmen”, in which Plushenko was not surprised by anything.

Rudkovskaya inspired a return to big sport
One can recall the black magician Rudolf Zagainov, who worked not only and not so much for Yagudin, but against Plushenko, about the meticulous work of Leonid Raitsin, who was in charge of Tarasova’s jumps and physical training, about the brilliant productions of Nikolai Morozov, about the efforts of the IMG sports marketing agency, promoting the future victorious Salt Lake City, but in sports, the result is the most important thing. Yagudin became the champion of the 2002 Olympics, Plushenko – the silver medalist. And their uncompromising duel really brought men's figure skating to a new level. Cascade “4-3-3”, which was performed by Plushenko, and today no one includes it in their programs.After Salt Lake City, Yagudin was forced to leave the big sport. What a pity that we did not see the continuation of the uncompromising duel between two outstanding skaters! After all, two seasons after the 2002 Olympics became, in my opinion, the creative heights of Plushenko and Mishin. Two of his programs, “To the 300th Anniversary of St. Petersburg” (it is, however, often called “Gangster Petersburg” by music from the original source) and “In Memory of Vaclav Nijinsky” are masterpieces for all time.

Plushenko proved that it is possible to combine the most complex technical elements with brilliant choreography and original music arrangements. The Hungarian violinist Edwin Marton managed to find the exact accents to make the programs play. They looked especially impressive during gala performances, when Marton went out with a violin on the ice.

The post-Olympic season was marked by Plushenko's unconditional advantage over all foreign competitors. In Russia, he didn’t even have them close. And at the 2004 European Championships in Budapest, a sensation struck: the Frenchman Brian Joubert himself did not even believe that he had beaten the invincible Russian champion.

We must pay tribute to Plushenko, who did not complain to the whole world about his injuries, but took a convincing revenge on the Frenchman at the 2004 World Cup in Dortmund. Injuries took revenge the following season. Plushenko didn't skate as much as he suffered on the ice, culminating in his withdrawal from the competition during the World Championships in Moscow. And ahead was the Olympic Turin.

Mishin made sure. His student went to the Olympics with “The Godfather” arranged by Marton, which was, if not a repetition, but a paraphrase of previous brilliant programs. Only the title of Olympic champion outweighed everything. Two Olympics, all the titles that were possible were won, popular love and success among the girls were guaranteed for many years. It is quite natural that Eugene started monetizing his victories, fortunately, there were enough offers to perform on the show. Only unlike the champions of recent years, Plushenko not only promised to return, but also returned to the next Olympics.The key moment was his participation in Eurovision-2008, where he again brought victory to Russia along with Marton and Dima Bilan. According to Eugene himself, his future wife Yana Rudkovskaya inspired him to return to big sport. True, it did not turn out to be triumphant. In Vancouver, Plushenko lost to American Evan Lysacek. During the absence of the Olympic champion Turin at the World and European Championships, potential rivals have learned to correctly use all the nuances of the new refereeing system.

Lysacek did not jump quads at all, but he inserted all his complex combinations and a brilliantly honed triple axel into the second part of the program, for which allowances were relied. However, Plushenko still had to win. If he performed the 3-2-2 cascade declared in the free program, this would be enough to win. Only for the third jump, Eugene did not have enough strength. Nevertheless, I wanted to attribute the defeat to “the intrigues of the enemies.”

In conversations with IOC President Jacques Rogge and ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta, the Vancouver silver medalist raised the issue that quads should be valued much higher. This has been achieved. Although the issue of awarding a second gold medal, by analogy with the scandal in the sports couples competition in Salt Lake City, was not even raised. Plushenko was truly hurt by this Olympic defeat, but few believed that the figure skater, exhausted by injuries and plunged into a hectic social life, would return again.

He returned at the 2012 European Championships in Sheffield, where at first they did not want to allow him at all. Plushenko did not have the required international rating due to missing the competition, and in the short program had to start in one of the first warm-ups. It was won by Arthur Gachinsky, who was often called Plushenko's heir. In the free program, Evgeny showed that it was too early for the heir to aim at the highest step of the podium when participating in competitions of himself. backfired with real drama. According to the results of the 2013 World Cup, Russia has only one place left in the men's competitions in Sochi. And a real battle unfolded for him at the Russian Championship, which took place in December 2013 in the Olympic Iceberg. Plushenko was not ready for it.With all the sympathy of the judges, a gap of five points after the short program was not enough to win. Evgeny made too many mistakes in the free program. Maxim Kovtun won, starting a powerful debate about who should represent Russia in Sochi. For the first time in the Olympic program there was a team tournament. According to the rules, it is impossible to declare one skater for him, but for an individual another, according to the rules.

Plushenko himself put an end to the discussion. In an interview that he took from him at the beginning of 2014, he said that he would participate in the Olympics. On the sidelines of the Olympics, I had a chance to hear: the decision was made not even by the leadership of the FFKKR, but at a much higher level. “People from Putin's inner circle”, -. You can sympathize with Kovtun as much as you like, but two-time Olympic champion Maxim Trankov spoke best of all about Plushenko's contribution to the victory in the “command”: how many points would another skater have contributed to the Russian national team, but Plushenko contributed 19″.

Of course, the Russian team had a very strong squad with no weaknesses in any of the four disciplines, but the Canadians were really feared. And Plushenko, with one of his appearances on the ice, made Patrick Chan tremble, on whom they had high hopes in the Maple Leaf Country. In the free program, the Canadians, who already understood everything, put up another participant, Kevin Reynolds.

No matter how hard Plushenko's ill-wishers tried to reproach him with the removal from individual competitions in Sochi, he still became a two-time Olympic champion. And the very participation in four Olympics is a unique phenomenon in modern times. In Sochi, I asked the 27-year-old Czech figure skater Tomas Werner if he plans to compete before Pyeongchang. !" Tomas replied with a smile.

After Sochi, Plushenko threatened his rivals with a return to the ice for several more years, but no one really believed in this. After all, it was largely thanks to his efforts that the value of ultra-si elements was noticeably increased, and the generation of Yuzuru Hanyu successfully mastered them. Interestingly, after Pyeongchang, the Japanese figure skater, by that time already a two-time Olympic champion, turned to Plushenko's legacy and presented his own version of “In Memory of Nijinsky” to the world.
Japanese television crews asked to compare these two programs at the World Cup stage in Helsinki. I honestly said that I like the original much more, although the Japanese version is superior in terms of technical content. Khanyu himself said that he paid tribute to the Russian figure skater.

The two-time Olympic champion celebrates his 40th birthday as a coach and co-owner of the Angela Plushenko Academy. And, by his own admission, he gets much more pleasure from working with young skaters than from a hectic social life. Although at first many did not believe that Eugene himself was engaged with his students on the ice and was going to devote to this for many years.

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