Evgeni Plushenko: BORN AGAIN
|Photo © Alex Wilf
«I’ll tell you the truth – I wanted this medal so much, I dreamt of it so much, I feel unbelievably happy now!». That’s how Evgeni Plushenko started his conversation with the reporters late night on Thursday. Press-conference was the last scheduled event of the day. A car was waiting for Plushenko and his coach near the rink as it was going to take them to the Russian House for a short time, and then to the airport. It was known before the final that Plushenko’s family insisted he return to St. Petersburg right after the men’s event was over and that skaters was really going to take the first flight to Russia.
Plushenko continued, «I want to thank my coach, choreographer, and my parents. They did so much for me, just like my wife. I love her very much and miss her a lot when she is not near. It’s like the Grammy when the winners only think about naming everyone and not forgetting anybody, right? I’m sincere. I have a great coach. Many people supported me and I’m glad that everything worked out».
- Is that true that your are going to stay in sport for four more years?
- Why not? I’m 23, I’ll be 27 by the time of Vancouver Games. I feel completely health after a surgery last year. I can work as much as I want to without experience any problems. Just like it was here, in Torino. I was able to do absolutely everything even when I had to skate very early in the morning.
- Does your desire to stay in sport connected in any way to the fact that Russia currently doesn’t have a skater who can replace you?
- Why? There are enough young skaters, even in our group in St. Petersburg, and each of them is able to get to the high level. I still love competing and I like to work. That’s the qualities you need for the success. It’s hard to be number one. It creates a big responsibility. You have to constantly be in shape and in prove you are the best all over again in every competition. I can’t say I showed the best variation of my program in Torino. It was just one of performances, nothing special.
- How much your loss in Salt Lake City heated your desire to win in Torino?
- I can’t say it became some special motivation. Four years ago, we just worked, long and hard. It’s pretty difficult to compete with skaters like Stephane Lambiel, Brian Joubert, Johnny Weir, even though it might look different from the side. SLC Games didn’t hit me hard. They just weren’t «mine», and these Game are!
- So, did all you wishes come true?
- No, I’m very hungry. Very...
The newly-crowned Olympic champion day went on in the most unpredictable way after the medal ceremony and the press-conference in the arena. The press-conference at the Russian house started at midnight, and was pushed to the minimum as Plushenko answered five or six questions. He really was very hungry and very tired. Reporters had to understand it. The journalists from one of the American TV companies came to the Russian house a half an hour later than the hero, and they didn’t get to do their report – they thought it didn’t make sense to show the champion so tired.
Plushenko got into the car at three in the morning to go the airport. He fell asleep on the way and walk up from the hit – the car got into the accident.
It wasn’t a big deal. It was very fogy on the Turin – Milan highway and there were endless little accidents. In the morning, the statistics reported hundred and fifth accidents over the night.
Plushenko’s Audi was roughed just a little, according to his agent Ari Zakarian who got the information from the skater’s wife in St. Petersburg. Plushenko’s and Mishin’s phones were turned off. Because of the fog, all flights out of Milan were postponed till morning. Still, Plushenko flew to Moscow with the connecting flight to St. Petersburg so he could come back for the exhibition.
When the skater left, his agent was a little lost as there were plans for Plushenko spend his free days in Torino by going to a bunch of very important advertising and commercial meetings and events.
However, comparing with the victory that Plushenko and Mishin had suffered for, all of it didn’t matter as much. There was a victory, and we don’t judge the winners.
Many were surprised that Evgeni wanted to stay in sport for four more years. Mishin still managed to somehow say that the competition could’ve been much harder for his student if the rivals would’ve gotten it together. Nobody could’ve prevented the Russian skater to get the gold at this point of time even if they wanted to very much. They are not on the level. Unlike many Olympic before, the men’s final wasn’t noticeable much and it was less competitive than the pairs final.
Still, we could see the unbelievable progress. In a year or two, it could be the different picture. Most skaters have much bigger motivation to grow than the champion. Plushenko won everything. What other super goals can a person standing on top set for himself?
Johnny Weir and Brian Joubert can be considered the biggest loser of the Games. Weir was fifth, and Joubert was sixth, making four mistakes on the jumps while Weir made just one big mistake. His program difficult wasn’t high overall. The skater made just one out of three planned combinations and he felt the cruelty of the new rules right away.
Jeffrey Buttle and Evan Lysacek became the heroes (Plushenko is another story, so we are not counting him). They managed to defeat World champion Stephane Lambiel in the free program. Buttle did the quad in competition for the first time and even though he got -3 for the landing, he can now really consider himself as one of the top skaters. It’s possible he’ll be the favorite for the Calgary Worlds in a month.
Something to think about: the Worlds can become the first championship in many years where Russia will be shut out of gold. That’s in case if none of those competing for gold in Torino or those who already won it won’t go there. Totmianina and Marinin announced they are not going to finish out this season. Team Plushenko promised to make an announcement in a week or two. Navka and Kostomarov are also saying that are not going to continue and if they perform well in Torino, they are most likely to retire immediately. It’s possible Irina Slutskaya will do the same.
Personally, I want to see Plushenko in Calgary very much. Evgeni was constantly under a lot of stress because he had to prove that he is the best for the last four years. Even his best performances left the impression that the skaters doesn’t do everything he is able to do as an artist.
Judging from the previous Games, a skater who get the title is sort of born again and changed in front of our eyes. He becomes more confident and free. He gets rid of a fear to make a mistake because he knows it with his entire being – he is the champion for life.
So, Plushenko finally has everything to go on ice in Calgary and skate with joy, not thinking about the rivals or the marks. I think it could be a really unforgettable sight.