After winning the Worlds
Excerpts from interview by Igor Poroshin


I invited him to Italian restaurant where I believe it wouldnít be crowded at that time, but Plushenko stopped at the Japanese restaurant while we were passing it by.

Q: Do you like sushi?

Evgeny: Yeah.

Q: Then letís go in.

Q: Is your exhibition planned as an action to conquer the North American audience who seems to find you too perfect, too cold and, maybe, even a boring skater?

Evgeny: An action? Itís just an idea of the choreographer. A sort of a joke.

Q: A joke on whom? Your coach, Mishin, consistently says that Yagudin's free program is a body building on ice.

Evgeny: Really? Personally, I went out on ice without any thought of making a parody on ďGladiator.Ē

Q: You seemed to have no doubts that somebody would be able to beat you here in Vancouver? You won your first World Championís title amazingly easy. Maybe itís a wrong impression. Maybe, you can tell about shivering that the World doesn't know?

Evgeny: There was no shivering at all. Thatís why everything went so well. I wasnít thinking about medals or my competitors. I concentrated only on my skating. I would have become a World Champion three years ago. I was only fifteen but I was in excellent form. The only reason I was third that I got my head dizzy with the thoughts of the gold medal, how nice it would look on me, how would people applause me and what they would say to me. A year later I became even stronger and wanted to win even more. I got the silver then. Before the Worldís in Nice I won the Nationals, Europeans, The Grand Prix Final. I was ready as never before, even in a better form then I was in Vancouver. I didnít miss a single jump in practice. I was sure that I would get the gold but, as a result, ended up fourth. I have changed a lot since then. I am able not to think of what I want to think about.

Q: I just donít get it. Being an 18 year old how could you control your thoughts? It's like dating a girl and not to think about what's going to be next. Zhenya, you just a monster, a supermen! I picture your childhood, a boy standing by the wall at school's hallway and coldly watching his classmates crazy games. 

Evgeny: Thatís not true. I've had fun, I was one of them.   We played football in the backyard I tried to score a goal at any price. I couldn't stay still at class, I was not behaving.

Q: But where did it go? Now Plushenko looks like a monument to himself. An icy prince: restraint is in everything - in skating, in words while off ice. I just can't help but ask, where does the mask end and where does the real you start? 

Evgeny: I don't know  (Plushenko touches his face like he's trying to find something on it). Nothing is here. Just a bit of a make-up that I didn't have time to wash away after the exhibitions. Is this a mask?

Q: OK. Let me ask it differently. In your programs this season, except for the "bodybuilding joke", of course, it was clearly seen some image to follow, a feeling of some statement you want to make.  I would say that you didn't portray some hero like Yagudin did but an abstract idol. An idol that doesn't show any unnecessary words, gestures or actions.

Evgeny: Beautiful. I have nothing to add. What exactly do you want to hear?" Yes, I am perfect" or" No, I am not perfect?"  I have sins.

Q: But you won't deny that you want to make an impression when you come out on ice. I would like to know what impression you want to make on the judges and on the audience?

Evgeny: The ideal. You are right about that. I want to be flawless on and off the ice. Not to say unnecessary words or make unnecessary steps. I do not like any fuss or noise. I don't like restaurants. It's cozier to have a dinner at home, with parents. After coming back to St. Petersburg I want to go to disco but mom says:" Zhenya, you have the Worlds coming soon."
"It's a whole week ahead, "I respond. " It's only a week, you have to get ready, "she objects. I easily agree with her. 

Q: Does she say it in the same calm way as you just told me?

Evgeny: She never yells at me. We are friends. We try not to argue. It happens but very rarely.

Q: Does your calmness come from her?

Evgeny: Yes, from her as well.

Q: The idol could be somebody or could be combined like having James Bond's bearing and a head of
       "Marlboro" cowboy. Whom did you have in mind when you were talking about the idol? What men have you admired or still admire? 

       Evgeny: Victor Petrenko. I've always wanted to be like him. May be there are even some moves in my programs that remind Petrenko's.  Of course, I've never come out on the ice and wanted to imitate him. If it happened, I did it unconsciously. 
 

       Q: Many see your main talent in obedience and compare you with a piece of clay in the hands of professor Mishin
       who molded you into what he wanted. Is this an offensive comparison? 

       Evgeny: It's a good one. There is no reason to be offended -it's the truth. I came to Mishin to Leningrad when I was 11 years old. Yes, I did have all the triples- from toe loop to axel, but you could only call them triples. There was
    no technique, no right execution. Only my natural ability to jump high. That was Mishin who made me a World Champion. 

       Q: It's all clear with a technique. Alexei Nikolaevich is the best specialist in jump technique in the country,
       probably, even in the world.  I am asking about a character. Would you have been different if you haven't met Mishin? 

  Evgeny: I've always listened to him, never responded in a rude manner, talked back and rarely argued. When I
       just come to St. Petersburg he took care of me like I was his own son. He helped me with everything. That's why I can say that at some moment he was the one who taught me about life. 

       Q: You look a bit funny together: Mishin is always very agitated at competitions and you look icy calm. 

  Evgeny: You are idealizing me, I also can get agitated. 

   Q: It would be interesting to watch. 

       Evgeny: Yes that's true. Believe it or not, but just a week before the Worlds I lost my triple Lutz. I was mad as a hell. Two days left but I can't do a thing. I got very tired after the Europeans and Grand Prix Final. Then Alexei
   Nikolaevich made a decision: "Get some rest right till the competitions start." The next time I went out on ice and I got everything back: confidence, calmness and the lutz was easy. 

  Q: Today you made a furore with your exhibition number, but do you realize that Yagudin, not you, was the most popular skater in Vancouver? 

  Evgeny: Yagudin? It seemed to me it was Todd Eldredge, or Elvis Stojko. 
 

       Q:  Judging on the headlines of the American and Canadian newspapers the highlight of the event wasn't Stojko's failure or the successful comeback of Todd Eldredge, not even Plushenko's undoubted victory but Lyosha Yagudin's right foot. Wasn't all this fuss about his trauma annoying for you? Did it distract you? 

  Evgeny: I've already said that I was calm as never before. By the way, I know Yagudin very well. He wants to be a
  center of attention even if he loses. I have no doubts that he was in pain. Although, I don't understand, why he
  went into all those details if he already decided to compete. It's not a put down. I just don't understand it because  we   are  very different. 

 Q: Your exhibition number today also proves that you want to be in a center of attention. 

  Evgeny: Yes, I do. But we got different ways to do it. Now I can say that I also skated with a pain in my foot .My
       back bothered me. Alexei Nikolaevich doesn't yet know about it. Neither does my mom. 

  Q: Why did you hide it from them? 

  Evgeny: I didn't want them to worry. 

  Q: This season you won absolutely all the competitions that you participated in. Does Yagudin remain to be your main rival? 

  Evgeny: Yes. He is very strong competitor but not the only one. I also consider Elvis Stojko as a strong competitor. I think, he is the greatest skater of our time. Yes, he failed in Vancouver but it's easy to understand. Because of injuries he didn't participate in any competitions this season. He had every right to speak about that at each corner but I don't recall him making excuses.  He just apologized to his fans for the disappointing result.  My another serious competitor is Todd Eldredge, who does a 4-3 jump combination in practice, and Timothy Goebel as well. Even though, he isn't artistic, his jumps are perfect. 

   Q: Aren't you afraid of Chinese skaters? 

   Evgeny: The Chinese are very strong and continue making progress but I am not afraid of anybody. In addition, the most important thing - I am not afraid to lose. 

  Q: Yeah, right! You are not afraid to lose in the Olympic year? 

  Evgeny: What worries me though, is that after all those victories people don't see me as a human being anymore.  I am not a machine, I have a heart beating in my chest  -not an engine, there's a blood in my veins- not an oil. I know pain and fatigue. I can lose but I will strive to win everything. 



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