Cup of Russia 2004 Booklet

His victory at the latest World championships in Dortmund earned him a place in the ranks of the most outstanding single skaters in the history of figure skating. Today the athlete and his coach Alexei Mishin feet that the title of three-times world champion is not only a sign of superiority over his opponents-it also involves some kind of responsibility for his future even better performances.

- Zhenya, meanwhile your opponents are attacking, they can't wait to dethrone you. What do you think are your untapped reserves, which will still allow you to keep an edge over your opponents?

- I must prepare meaningful, thematic programs, and include in my program my trademark elements-such as the Billman spin or the bublik ("pretzel"). Just to perform those triples and quads would be simply silly. First of all, it is very hard, secondly, it doesn't make sense.

- One can say that last year's season which was very hard for you marked a new turn in your art?

- I very much hope it marked a new turn in my health. I was extremely happy to finish the season unbeaten-for all my health problems! Because I was still struggling with my leg injuries. But the training process and choreography did not change. In the past together with my coach Alexei Nikolaevich Mishin we also tried to dazzle the public with something new every season and we did so again last year despite my injuries. We will stick to it in the future.

- Didn't you want to change something in yourself after losing the ISU Grand Prix Final and the European Championships?

- Some people spared no efforts to accuse us, trying to prove that we had changed something in the program. But this is not true. We practiced the usual way. W did try to treat my injuries, though. Before every practicing session Alexei Nikolaevich would massage my injured knee and it finally bore some fruit. Quite possibly after my legs felt better I changed myself too. Meaning, I calmed down, I felt more confident and probably made a difference at the decisive moment. When I was the last to come out on the ice in the free program in Dortmund. I had no jitters.

- Many blamed your unexpected last year's defeats on the absence of decent competition. Meaning, you were to relaxed┘ Maybe you need a new Alexei Yagudin as a rival?

- I don't think it's about rival. Though, I can say that with his departure a quieter situation in our sports had no impact on me whatsoever. It did have an impact. In our rivalry with Yagudin there was some fire, some passion, we were sort of pushing each other. But when he quit, I didn't stop perfecting my skating. I think it was all about injuries. But it all happened and you cannot change the past. After all sometimes there is a silver lining in defeat - it may do you some good.

- Meaning, your rivals who are breathing down your neck do not scare you?

- No. Though, I must give them their due. Over the last year they really improved a lot in terms of class and they came really close. You cannot allow yourself to relax indeed. But then this is what makes sports great - you never know whence the threat - what opponent will catch you by surprise and when. But they still have a long way to go to reach Yagudin's level.

- The last Championships on the eve of the Winter Olympics will be held in Moscow. Don't you feel some pressure because everyone will expect you only to win?

- No, it's just the other way around - I feel very confident. Probably, because I really love to skate at home.



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