Skater Credits Coach Alexei Mishin

"" May 2, 2002
By Lyndsey March

Evgeni Plushenko learned a valuable lesson this season: he found out what it takes to become a World Champion. Far from taking all the credit, he recognizes that a major part of his success is due to coach Alexei Mishin. "He's the best coach," Plushenko explained. "Not just the best for me but the best coach in the world."

Guiding Alexei Urmanov to Olympic gold in 1994, Mishin knows what's necessary to produce a champion. Known to be a taskmaster, Mishin instilled a strong work ethic in Plushenko back when he was just a child. It's this discipline and hard work that Plushenko believes enabled him to become champion of the world. Practically unbeatable all season, Plushenko rode the wave right into the World Championships. "I just skate and work hard, I train harder." When asked if that's why he wins, the answer was simple, "I think so", he said convincingly.

Now that he's made this discovery, you can imagine he wants to hold on to it, especially with the Olympic Games in sight. "I just want it to be the same as Worlds," Plushenko said of the Games. "I will train like this year and maybe if I skate clean and do everything I can win." The key word in that statement is train. Plushenko explained that instead of focusing on the gold, he'll stick to the hard work and count on the results he's seen because of it. "I think everybody wants to win," Plushenko acknowledged of his competitors. "I don't think, I just want to skate clean, then I'm happy."

Plushenko's happiest moment came at this year's World Championship where he was near perfect in winning the title. In a groundbreaking move, Plushenko skated his second long program, designed for the Grand Prix Final, in the qualifying round. The only skater to perform a different long program, it was Mishin who thought of the idea. "My coach said maybe we can try it. Maybe it will be better," Plushenko said. As it turned out, Mishin's suggestion benefited Plushenko. "For me it was much better to skate two different programs," he explained.

Mishin has guided Plushenko to a World title with a regimen that obviously works for his student and only time will tell if he has developed yet another Olympic champion.



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