"Strong Man" May 2006
By Irina Tolcheva

The Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko doesn't like releasing interviews, but he never denies a talk.
He doesn't suffer of "prima donna" behaviour, but he's well know all over.
He gets brilliant results, but he never stops.
He has always liked hockey, but he has become a skater without equals in the world.

In the following interview we'll identify with "J" the journalist and with "P" Plushenko.

J: Mr. Plushenko, you don't like a lot communicating trough the press, is it the same also with journalist, even if they talk well of you?

P: At the beginning of my sport career I hesitated to talk with the press. But with a bit of time journalists have got my trust. So I feel disappointed when one of you, suddenly and all alone, damage anything: he/she writes intentionally lies, he/she publishes false things without any interview. And these are not single cases. That's why anytime I loose my desire to talk with journalists.

J: But not all are the same┘

P: Yes I know, most of you write true things (he smiles). I'm glad to release interviews to them!

J: But, Mr Plushenko, are you a companionable person?

P: I always maintain conversation. But most of the times I'm absorbed in my own thoughts. When I trainee, when I compete, there's a strong mix of emotions, of energy, of adrenaline. I'm totally inside my work, concentrated on me, and simply I have no forces for other things. At the end you feel a vacuum around you: you have not desire to do anything, but only lay down ad have a rest.

J: And here you are, these boring journalists!

P: With their questions, cameras and microphones. And you have to dedicate them a bit of your time, to talk. Sure, it's not easy.

J: Mr. Plushenko, who's Zhenya for you? A "strong man"?

P: It's me, for example, the skater Evgeni Plushenko (he smiles). I think to be strong both in life than in sport. When I began to skate and I was not able to realise a lot of things, my mother always repeated that I was strong, that I was the best and that I would have achieved my goals. And with this encouragement and support I went towards my destination. In general, I like winning.

J: Mr. Plushenko, do you bear hard defeats?

P: My family, my close and faithful friends and a first-class trainer. With this team we're simply invincible!

J: Mr. Plushenko, are you always so serious? You smile just a few...

P: Me? (He smiles). If I should smile always, people would think I'm an idiot. And normally I think that's strange when people smile without a reason. (He laughs). I like good jokes, farces, but they don't have to be "unhappy".

J: I heard that you, Mr. Plushenko, are very irascible, emotive, but however you're able to control yourself. Can you tell us your secret?

P: If during training sessions something goes wrong, I shout. But when I go at home and I talk with my wife, I get back serenity.

J: Against who do you shout?

P: Mmm, against myself when I'm not able to do anything. After all I try to be perfect: don't say a word more than necessary, don't do useless movements. Try to imagine: the free-programs lasts 4 minutes and 30 seconds. In this period of time you have to execute a lot of elements, all in a right must have a remarkable concentration and attention. I never stop to wonder myself: "damn it! How it's hard this sport!", in ice-skating there's no space for mistakes.

J: After all, as in some other sport.

P: Oh yes, but in team sports it's totally different. If, for example, in a football match the opposition scores a goal, you still have a possibility of rescue. The same thing is for hockey, baseball and hand ball. In figure ice-skating you cannot get a second chance.

J: So, why did you choose it?

P: I didn't choose it. My mother sent me in a sport school to grow her son in a more healty way. (He smiles). When I was four years and a half old, during a walk in a park of Volgograd, my mother and I met a friend f her with her son. He got a pair of skates and was crying: "I don't want to skate!". Skates in those times were simply unavailable, and it displeased to waste this good. So this woman proposed to me to try skating. At the age of four I started skating, only two months later I had my first competition, with children who still skated for one or two years, and I finished seventh on 15. after that I decided to go on with the training. I liked it, because there was always something new: jumps, step sequences, elements.

J: As far as I Know, when you were young you had to choose between hockey and figure skating┘

P: These are the facts: once I saw hockey players and I decided to change sport. My mother told me "try a bit again, then if you want to change you can do it". But I didn't do it. But passion for hockey always remains.

J: And what is the difference between Evgeni Plushenko during his life and on ice?

P: I think that there's no difference. My life is figure skating. And in my life I'm the same as on ice. It doesn't exist something like "Now I finish to skate my program, I whip off my mask and I go home!". I'm resolute. If I have a goal, I have to reach it, I must win. Not only in sport, but also in life. Sure, sometimes failures and defeats occur. It's normal, not always things are so easy. I got a lot of success and victories. My mother always told me: "Now that you've got winning, forget it, go towards new success, reach new tops!". During my all life I got in this way my victories. And I won all that I could win. But I know, I'm able to get more of this.

J: For example?

P: For example, repeating all that I said.

J: What is the reverse of the medal?

P: A lot of traumas and an unbelievable tiredness.

J: Mr. Plushenko, what is your relation with glory?

P: During my life I've always tried to be the best. But maybe it's for this reason that glory has not reached me casually! And until now I'm not bored of it! (he smiles).

J: Don't you suffer of "prima donna" beahviour?

P: Oh, it's not easy to judge. Maybe I should look at me with other people's eyes. Actually, I've been ill of this behaviour when my career was at the beginning, when I got the first money and appreciation.

J: At the beginnignof March, Mr Plushenko, you and the other winners of the Olympic Games of Turin, were received from Putin. How is Putin's handshake?

P:. I met more than once Vladimir Vladimirovic. Sure, it's pleasant when is the President of the Nation to congratulate, I can't hide this fact. The meeting happened with spontaneity and nonchalance.

J: Did you have also a private meeting or everything happened following a rigid respect of the protocol?

P: Yes, we had also a private meeting. But I don't want to tell you about this, it's a secret. (He laughs).

J: The way towards the Olympic victory has been quite long. After the Olympic gold, didn't you ask to yourself:" What will I do in the future?"

P: After the Olympic games I've tought: "Cool! I've everything!" But you don't have to relax, to lay down. You must work, go on.

J: A comment from you: Ira Slutskaya's third place is deserved?

P: I would say that Ira has lost a good opportunity. She has not been able to control her emotions, her adrenaline. That's what I really told her. She had to achieve the fixed goal, but in this competition he has been not able to do it. I'm really sorry, it was a pity.

J: Do you think that the ideal athlete exists?

P: Of course, no, beacuse also a strong person can loose. Every athlete has his weaknesses. Me too (he smiles). But only my team knows them. If my antagonists would be able to guess them, it wouldn't be so easy for me┘ (he smiles)

J: Zhenya, what's missing to the Russian figure skating?

P: Support! If the Federation would support its athletes like in the American one, maybe we could have best skaters. This is an example: we arrive to a competition, but you don't see that we're a team, because we don't possess a suitable equipment. Look the athletes of other nations: costumes of Americans and Canadians have not been seamed in some Chinese laboratory, they are pieces of design. You look at them and you think: "Here there's a real team with the aim of winning!". We, Russians, don't dress so bad, but we're not a team.

J: And what is the cause?

P: Maybe because of the management. But it's possible to change everything, it's only necessary to tell the truth. People have fear, but that's not right.

J: Also you, Mr. Plushenko, have any fear?

P: I never fear anybody. Maybe that's why sometimes other people call me "revolutionary".

J: Somebody told that sport is fitness brought to the absurd. Do you agree?

P: I disagree. Fitness means maintain the body on fit. Professional sport, instead, involve you at 100%. Doing fitness at least you can get a trauma, but doing sports it's also possible to die. Usually, sport is perceived in two different ways: as politics or as business. Rich parents, for example, think that their children have to do sport because they spent a lot of money (break)┘ about this topic we could have a long talk┘

J: Don't you fear to live without sport?

P: Until now I've never thought at my life without sport, but I don't reject that in a next future I won't be an athlete anymore. I will have to look for another way. I've a lot of projects, a lot of friends. I've no fear.

J: I heard that you would like to do cinema...

P: I'd like trying something new. Even if this is relatively new: figure skating is also a bit theatre, a bit dance, a bit cinema, a bit acrobatic show. And I feel mine all these things.

J: Which role would you play?

P: The protagonist (he laughs). It could be an historic film, or maybe an action film.

J: It's the anniversary of our magazine. What would you wish to our readers?

P: Be strong as well as this magazine. I wish you luck, love and tolerance. Live and be pleased at life.

J: What is the most expensive present you ever did?

P:A car for my wife.

J: What is the most expensive present you ever get?

P: A car from Vladimir Putin and a house from Valentina Matvienko.

J: Your hobbies?

P: Tennis, Russian billiards, football.

J: How many cash have you got with you in this moment?

P: Sometimes I've nothing at all, as today, for example (he laughs). But I've always my credit card, my "float".

J: How many people do help you at home?

P: My wife.

J: Your most extravagant purchase?

P: The exclusive Maserati car.

J: Your most expensive purchase?

P: My house.

J: The most expensive object of your furniture?

P: Everything is really expensive.

J: The most numerous things of your wardrobe?

P: Shoes. I would not be able to count how many pairs do I possess.

J: Who's you style model?

P: I've no models now. But in the past some athletes were my model.

J: Your biggest success?

P: Turin Winter Olympic Games.

J: Your ambitions?

P: I'm severe with myself. For example I say to myself: you have to do THIS element in THIS training session, not to leave it at the next one.

J: The biggest pleasure?

P: Relax. Sleep ad lib, don't do anything and don't call anybody.

J: The biggest humiliation?

P: It has never happened.

J: The best holiday?

P: With my family.

J: The biggest imperfection?

P: I'm not able to surrender. And I think to be always right.

J: The most important thing?

P: My family.

J: What's the thing which brings you the biggest sorrow?

P: Nothing. I get pleasure from my life. I'm satisfied, so everything is ok for me.

J: Your morning begins with┘

P: A shower..

J: The most beautiful place in the world?

P: I love my city, St. Petersburg.

J: A place where to go/to visit?

P: St. Petersburg.

J: For what are you sorrowing in spending money?

P: Money must be respected and, if there's the possibilita, it's necessary to spend them, but with method. Not for useless things.

J: At what you cannot give up, even if for a day?

P: Telephone.

J: What's your "drug"?

P: I cannot live for a long time without sport. Two weeks and my muscles begin to contract.

J: What would you never wear?

P: A loincloth.

J: How many are, according to you, a lot of money?

P: They must to be enough to live.

J: What interfere most with you in your life?

P: Anything, all favourite me. When I got married, a lot of people said: why do you do this, Olympic games are near, all that you tried to achieve will be vanished. But my marriage has only helped me and results are the proof.

J: Prestige is┘

P: Car, work, house (a well-known saying during sovietic government, to indicate the three essential things that a successful person must have N.o.R.)

J: Which jewels are admitted for a man?

P: Watch, wedding ring, a discrete but expensive brilliant on the little finger.

J: Your failed purchase?

P: Maserati.

J: What would you change of your physical aspect?

P: Nothing. Now I like everything of me. In the past I was embarrassed of my long nose, but my wife like it, so it's not a problem anymore.

J: Your best friends?

P: My wife and my parents.

J: Your favourite pets?

P:American bulldog and cat.

J: Place where to live?

P: In the city and in the countryside.

J: Desing of your home?

P: My wife and the designer Alexandr Mironov.

J: Brand of a watch?

P: Patek Philippe, Constantin Vacheron, Daniel Roth

J: Alcohol?

P: A glass of wine during the dinner.

J: Wearing style?

P: At the moment military style makes me feel good.

J: Wearing/shoes brand?

P: It's not a question of principle.

J: Car?

P: Mercedes Gelendvagen

J: Fitness club?

P: Nothing. But if you don't practice sport at a professional level, you have to go.

J: Club?

P: I don't attend it anymore.

J: Restaurant?

P: It's a secret.

J: Food?

P: Japanese, Italian, Georigan┘ I love barbecued kebabs

J: Place where to relax?

P: Bedroom.

J: Beauty salon?

P: Personal Hair Stylist

J: Parfume?

P: Lacoste, Paco Rabanne, Chanel

J: Color?

P: Dark tones

Translated by Natalia Kourlovitch



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