"" October 25, 2004
By Milos Jerie

Three time world figure skating champion arrived in Prague at the weekend to get himself familiar with the Sazka Arena, where he'd be as a main star in Art on Ice show in November. "A man can skate relaxed, enjoy it," the figure skating leader looks forward the show.

- You're going to Prague with the Art on Ice show. Do you consider such exhibitions, when your performance isn't valued by strict eyes of the judges and you don't fight for medalling at worlds or Europeans, for more comfortable then the competition?

- There is no tension and no pressure like in competitions. A man can skate relaxed, enjoy it. Plus I am closer to the audience which is grateful. A man is happy because of that. But I don't say I don't like fighting for medals. I enjoy competing as well.

- And what about if the show elements, when the performance is magnified by lights and technical magic and crazy costumes, will be added to a competition too? How would you like it?

- I wouldn't be against it. We could try a competition that would be similar to a gala show, like the one I'm going to go to Prague with.

- Before this upcoming season you co-worked with a Bulgarian choreographer Sergei Petukhov. Why did you choose just him when home in Russia you can find many specialists in this field?

- I like him, he's a great guy, wonderful teacher and brilliant choreographer. We got along well very soon. We used to meet in the competitions often. His qualities are shown in performances of the Bulgarian ice dancers Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski. That's why me and my coach Mishin decided for him. He's already been to Petersburg and contributed on my preparation.

- But you travelled to Sofia too. What training conditions did you find there?

- I was satisfied with the ice, nobody limited me in anything. I could skate however long I wanted. I believe that with Sergei's help I'll show new programs that would be even more rich on style.

- Figure skating is starting a new judging system which should reduce the cries for fair judging. Is it a step forward to the fair judging?

- It's not possible to say so far if this new thing would be helpful or not. The fact is that it reduces jump combinations. It doesn't help figure skating, it just stops it. I paid my dues because of the new judging system. In the Grand Prix Final in Colorado Springs I performed one combination more. My points were reduced and it cost me the first place.

- Do you think we'll ever see a quintuple jump?

- It's not necessary just a dream. Before was said that two quads are impossible to perform in one combination. When skating boots and blades are going to be produced even more lighter and the skater are in top shape, we can experience a quintuple jump as well.

- You didn't love yourself a lot with your long-time rival and country-mate Alexei Yagudin. What is your relationship after he finished his amateur career?

- We meet rather seldom. He lives in America and I do in Petersburg. We were competing hard on the ice with the other. We never were friends, and we aren't.

- You became a three time world and European champion. What success are you still dreaming about?

- I still miss an Olympic gold medal in my collection. I finished second in Salt Lake City, so I'd love to win in two years in Torino. And the world championships in March is held in my home in Moscow. There would be a lot of pressure but I want to show my fans new jumps and combinations, and of course, I want to win.

- Can you imagine what will you do when you finish your amateur career?

- I hope I'll continue in amateurs for a long time. And some time in future, I'd like to have a chain of hotels. If I'd have a lot of money for this investment...

Translated by Zuzana (Nougatte)



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