"TV Park" N2/2003
By Valeriya Kuznetsova & Zifa Arhincheeva

No need to introduce Evgeni Plushenko. Who doesn't know one of our brightest figure skaters? Alexey Mishin, Zhenya's coach, says that Plushenko can do everything (that is he has all natural abilities for performing super-difficult elements), but also he has amazing artistry. And with all that Evgeni is young (he's just 20), serious and very busy. He's not too talkative - he prefers demonstrating his art on ice. To his opinion what he can and what he aspires is much more important than words. We had the agreement to meet Evgeni in Yubileyny Sport Palace - his training was just over and he had a half-hour for talking. At his daily training besides the coach Alexey Mishin there is always presented Plushenko's mom - Tatiana Vasil'evna. (To competitions and shows she never come - it's her principal position.) So we had a conversation "for three".

- Zhenya, how did you skates affair happen?

- I was 4 years old when my mom took the to the skating rink in Volgograd where we lived then. Through the stretched net I looked at skating kids, I liked it and I with pleasure began skating myself. To be perfectly exact, Zhenya was written down to the figure skating section at the age of 4 and 2 months. He was the littlest in the group and also he came when the rest kids have been there for a half of a year. At the beginning it was very hard to him. He cried. Sometimes he fell, couldn't rise and creped on ice. His first coach Tatiana Nikolaevna Skala sometimes pitied him, took him on her arms and skated this way. "Don't mention they laugh at you, - she comforted him. - Work and you will be first." And literally for a week Evgeni could stretch himself to do all three "shpagat" [I don't know how to translate it, it's such an exercise when the legs have 180 degrees angle.] "By the main thing is, - emphasizes the mom, - what he immediately stopped being ill. And┘ harden his organism. Before he even couldn't bear three trolley-bus stops, immediately felt sick." In three weeks after Zhenya came to the skating rink he began to participate in the competitions.

- At that time kids dreamt to become cosmonauts┘

- (T. V.) But Zhenya always wanted to be a military man. I myself sewed for him military-like shirt, trousers, then the dad brought to him a pilot-cap ["pilotka"], a peak-cap, holster. Zhenya had a big tank, he liked military games. When on the street he saw some a military man he saluted him and marched near him. I somehow always thought he would chose this career.

- (E.) I remember how mom sewed that shirt, I had a belt, a star on the pilot-cap┘ I often played in war. But started skating. In some time I wanted so much to play hockey, after my training I saw how guys was playing. When I said about my wish to mom, she answered: "Skate a month more and then we'll see". But after a month of skating I wanted nothing else.

- You didn't feel deprived of childhood out of such early growing-up?

- I sure had my childhood - and bicycle, and toys, and playing football with guys. All as usual, though I lacked some things. Simply everything was compressed - there was the regime, the graph. The school, training┘

- What is your standard day like?

- There are no standard days, they all are different, though there is the graph. I wake up, go to the practice, from the practice - businesses, meetings, the institute, sometimes I came to walk with my dog, them again the practice┘

- And what kind of a dog do you have?

- It's an American Bulldog, named Golden, he's almost two years old.

- (T.V.) He simply adores Zhenya despite of that's me who feeds him and walks with him. He doesn't walk away from Zhenya, obeys him. And how it meets him at evenings! Zhenya in general loves the animals - we bought Golden because of Zhenya wanted a dog. We also have a cat at home.

- (E.) For me mixing with animals [maybe I should translate "with pets"?] - it's distraction, relaxation. It's very pleasing when a friend near you and you caress him.

- Do you have a dream?

- To earn Olympic gold.

- And that's all? But what's further?

- Further┘ We'll live - we'll see. At least I plan to skate 8-10 years more, though everything may change even for a year. Now I have everything including the Olympic Silver medal, I lack only the gold one. Probably it's my biggest wish, because all my life lived on ice. By the way and mom wants it the best. If my dream comes true - it will be the best gift to us.

- (T.V.) The mom wants the main thing for her son - health. Though the health and the sport are seldom compatible. We often talk with Zhenya about it's necessary to get some else a profession, for the future.

- (E.) But at least not for nearest for years.

Tatiana Vasil'evna talked about Zhenya's health not accidentally. Yes, Evgeni was energetic, active boy. At the age of 9 months he didn't simply go, but ran. He began to speak early. At the age of 6 he read himself a big book by Nosov "Neznaika on the Moon". But not all was so good. While one year and three months Zhenya had illness. He caught cold in the kindergarten. In Siberia (Plushenko was born at BAM, in Urgal village of Khabarovsk district) winters are severe. Almost three months he spent in the hospital with double-side pneumonia. Medicine couldn't help. And his parent decided to cure him with the air and the sport. Taught him to ski, bought a bicycle. Made at home a training corner with a ladder, a horizontal bar, a swing. "Do you know what I always liked the best in him as in a future man, - confesses Evgeni's mom. - His wish to ratify himself! What he can do and must do. If he said that sure he'll do. He has the leader nature. He even was born a month earlier than it was expected.

- Zhenya what's your favorite moment in competitions?

- Honestly? It's when the competitions are over. Coming to the public certainly is pleasant, but at that moment you don't think how pleasant it is, you're thinking about what you're going to do and how you will do it.

- Evgeni, how did you find yourself in St.Petersburg?

- It all was spontaneously. The school in Volgograd was closed and my former coach Mikhail Makoveev said, that there is an offer to go to Moscow or to St.Petersburg. Then it was all the same to me, where to go to. We with parents decided that it would be St.Petersburg.

- (T.V.) We didn't want to let him off. We even didn't think about he might move somewhere. Then that question became very sharp, because of Zhenya couldn't live without ice.

- (E.) I needed to skate. I remember, if I didn't skate for 2-3 days, I felt pain in my knees, my muscles, I couldn't think about anything else. I remember that St.Petersburg shocked me with its greatness - after Volgograd it seemed huge, oppressed me. I was little, I was afraid to be lost, I missed my parents. For the first time it was very hard, I had to go a lot from one part of the city to another to train.

Eleven-years-old Zhenya left his native Volgograd for Alexey Mishin. The coach from St.Petersburg became for the young skater the second mom and dad. He took Zhenya with him to theatres, to see ballet and even to the restaurants. Taught to use fork and knife right. In a year Evgeni's mom came to him. His father stayed in Volgograd. "it wasn't a chic life, - remembers Plushenko's mom. - We rented a room in a communal flat. All money the father sent was spent for that. I remember Zhenya had only two t-shirts. I repeated to him: nobody will bring anything to us on the plate. Earn it. Get it."
At the age of 13 Zhenya got his first prize money. $1,500 for the 6th place on the Junior Worlds in Australia. He bought a TV-set and a costume to his mom. Now Zhenya has an excellent flat in the quiet district of St.Petersburg.

- Do you have favorite places in Peter [St.Petersburg] after so many years of living there?

- A lot of them. I love movies, go to "Mirazh" [cinema], I love Japanese food, though I have no favorite Japanese restaurant, we come to "Tinkoff" [restaurant], go to Mariinsky Theatre.

- You don't like just walking on the streets?

- I just have no time for that. Once on TV one famous person said the phrase: "When people in their interviews say they have no time, they just lie". I then said to myself: "That's not true". Of course, there is the time always. But how I as an athlete spent it? After training need to rest, to sleep, to save forces for the next training. Plus I have the institute, businesses, which you tried to finish as soon as possible for coming home to lay at last.

- I've got the impression that you only train all days long┘

- Oh no, why? When I have time I go to the clubs┘ Though I've been there long ago. I go to the countryside, I love the Russian bath very much, I play billiards, bowling.

- Are you a hazardous man?

- Hazardous, I played in casino, though very seldom and never lose very big sums.

- And do you remember the biggest winnings of your life?

- The World Championship - it's happened once. The very pleasant winnings.

- Do you have a lot of taboos as an athlete?

- Of course. I had to limit myself. For instance, it's necessary to go to the parties less, but I want - how without that? I can't often play tennis, football and hockey, which I love very much. And paintball either - because you run there and have tired, but I need the rest. Also I love motorcycles, but out of the sport, a motorcycle isn't recommended to me. Though I have one, but it's in the garage. I didn't use for two years.

By the way, Zhenya in his salad days loved cars, girls and dances. Now he has the same interests.

- (T.V.) We in the family decided, that after the trainings there is no word about the work. Zhenya all time is in the figure skating, thinks about it constantly┘ If he would talk about work at home too, he'd go mad.

Evgeni is called a genius because of what he does on the ice. He has a lot of fans. The hottest and most devoted are┘ the Japanese, who simply adore Zhenya.

- The Japanese love figure skating very much: if you do the most easy thing - triple-loop for instance, - they all the same strongly applaud.

- (T.V.) And what gifts the Japanese present! Some hand-made things, scarves, toys┘ Zhenya brought the sacks of some stuff from there. They constantly send letters. You open the envelope - and some flowers drop out of it, all is written with such a love! When he flies to Japan, the fans meet him there. And they came here also, about 15 Japanese fans of Zhenya, they came to the restaurant, treated him, mixed, brought a lot of gifts.

- (E.) It was my fans from Japan - simply there is a club there called "Plushenko fans".

- Your home must be overflowed with gifts┘

- Yes, the gifts are allocated with all flat. There is a lot of them - cameras, watches, jackets, sweaters. The toys, for instance, I give to my niece. A lot of gifts go to the children's houses. It's not the self-advertising. Recently in Moscow the TV offered me to take a camera, to go to the children's house and to film passing of things and toys to kids. I refused because I do it for myself, from my heart, for abandoned children feel happier.

Translated by Yulya (Pyatatchiok)



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