"The Chicago Sun-times" March 28, 2003
By Barry Wilner

Evgeni Plushenko is ready for all comers, including Alexei Yagudin.

Plushenko 20, has chased fellow Russian Yagudin since the 1998 Olympics, almost always losing out in the major events.

Plushenko, the silver medalist at the Salt Lake City Games seized the opportunity and won his second World Figure Skating Championships title, hitting two quadruple jumps and six triples. He did a quad-triple-double combination as an opener.

So, bring on Yagudin?

"I'm not missing Yagudin," Plushenko said. "He's a great guy also. He is a good skater, and if he comes back, I'll skate with him. Why not?

"C'mon guys, look at this," he said, pointing to Goebel and Honda. "There's two guys, Tim Goebel and Takeshi Honda, they skate today awesome. They did two quads. They were great."

But all the judges found Plushenko to be greater. And he did it with a sore left knee, although he didn't take a pain-killing injection, as he said he might.

"It's nicer to win the second time," he said. "There was a lot of pressure. It was hard. I am very tired right now."

Plushenko under-rotated a triple flip and had some shaky landings. His surpassing artistry, however, made a huge difference, and he received nothing but 5.9s for presentation.



March 28, 2003

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Winning a world title was better for Evgeni Plushenko the second time around. The 20-year-old Russian overcame an injured left knee to win the free skate here Thursday and capture his second men's title in three years at the World Figure Skating Championships.

"It's nicer to win the second time," Plushenko said. "It's awesome I won a second time. I'm so happy." The lanky blond who took silver at the 2002 Winter Olympics awoke to find his knee swollen and infected but decided took his doctor's advice and used ointment and massage instead of a painkilling injection.

"When I woke up, my knee was all red. The pain was the same," Plushenko said. "We discussed with the doctor. He said I don't need an injection. We treated it with cream and physical therapy." Plushenko, performing to music composed especially for him by Russia's Igor Korniliuk, stumbled on landings in his triple axel and triple lutz but earned 5.9s from every judge on artistic flair to rank as a unanimous top choice.

"I skate normal - not the best, but normal," he said. "I did a good job."

..."I'm not missing Yagudin," Plushenko said. "He is a great athlete. I want to compete against him. Why not?"



"The Chicago Sun-times" March 25, 2003

If this is how Russian star Evgeni Plushenko skates with a bad knee, imagine what he can do when he is healthy.

Plushenko easily won the short program Tuesday at the World Figure Skating Championships in Washington [DC, USA). A huge favorite entering the event, he did nothing to diminish that role - although he received a big challenge from a flu-ridden American Tim Goebel.

Despite winning the world championship two years ago, Plushenko has generally finished behind 2002 Olympic champion and countryman Alexei Yagudin. Yagudin is recovering from a hip injury, making Plushenko the heavy choice for this event, even though he has a sore left knee that he fears will require an injection before the free skate.

"Pain. It hurts," Plushenko said. "But I can skate. Last year, after the Olympic Games I have a problem with my right knee. I couldn't walk ... on the stairs. So this year I have a problem with my left knee, but I can skate and I can walk.

"So," he added with a laugh, "that's good."

Plushenko was more than good Tuesday, with some superb combination spins and a massive quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination.

He needed all the strength in his legs to save a triple axel landing, but then he breezed through the rest of his routine to "Adagio." Plushenko earned nothing but 5.7s through 5.9s, ranking first with eight of the nine judges.

"I can skate better, of course," he said. "I can do a triple axel cleaner."


* * *

"The Chicago Tribune" March 25, 2003
By Philip Hersh

Skating third of the six in the final group, Olympic bronze medalist Goebel put on a show that drew a standing ovation from Olympic champion Yagudin and put pressure on Olympic silver medalist Plushenko, who was yet to come.

"It's nicer to win the second time," Plushenko said. "There was a lot of pressure. Timothy skated very well."

Plushenko, 20, also landed two quads-one as a quad-triple-double combination and seven triples. He swept all nine of the judges whose scores were randomly selected from the l4-member panel.



March 25, 2003

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Russia's Evgeni Plushenko performed a flawless qualifying routine here despite an injured left knee, confirming his role as the man to beat at the World Figure Skating Championships. European and Grand Prix champion Plushenko, the 2001 world champion, had a flawless qualifying routine despite an injured left knee, landing the first quadruple-toe, triple-toe, triple-loop combination at any World Championships.

"I'm pleased with it," Plushenko said. "I've done it three times before in competition, but never at worlds. I'm feeling good here." The long-locked blond leaped gracefully to Bizet's Carmen to earn a standing ovation from fans and mostly 5.9s from judges in addition to his first perfect 6.0 ever in qualifying.

"It's good. I skated clean," Plushenko said. "I did a good combination. I did good. But I'm a little bit injured with my knee. I practiced the quads. I jumped too much and it happened."

...Men's qualifying counts 20 percent of the final score with 30 percent coming in Tuesday's short program and the other half in Thursday's free skate final. In Tuesday's short program, Plushenko was drawn to skate first in the final group, when judges usually grade lower to leave room for better marks, with Honda third and US men Goebel and Weiss owning the edge of skating last.

...Alexei Mishin, Plushenko's coach, did not think much of the hypnotism idea. "If someone needs a psycho-therapist, he is sick," Mishin said. He then pointed to Plushenko and stressed, "He is healthy."



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