Evgeni Plushenko: “I don’t want my athletes to be stars just for one season”
Evgeni Plushenko about Veronika Zhilina, plans for medals and rising stars of figure skating.
source: by Rogovich and Ekaterina Kuznetsova for olympicchannel.com dd. 2d February 2021
On February 3-5, Krasnoyarsk will host the Russian Figure Skating Championship among juniors. The competition among girls promises to be especially tough. Evgeni Plushenko told about his main junior star Veronika Zhilina and the promising young figure skaters from his academy.
Evgeni, Sofia Akatieva and Sofia Samodelkina are considered the main favorites of the championships. What do you think Veronika is missing to become on a par with them?
Evgeni Plushenko: Veronika is a very strong athlete. But in fact, we started working with her quite recently. Therefore, first of all, we did not have enough time yet. We need to get to know each other better, change the training system. We also changed the system with Sasha Trusova to stabilize the jumps. I have a completely different vision of the process.
One of the important things for Veronika now is to do fewer jumps. At this age, they easily jump 150, 200 jumps per workout, and then we wonder why they end their careers at 16. Back problems, then knees, then something else.
Therefore, now we are rearranging her training process. And it’s hard to say what she lacks, except consistency. She really has everything. She has wonderful spins, she has good choreography, Seryozha Rozanov did wonderful programs for her, she has a wonderful mother-coach who works with us. Therefore, it just takes a little time. Nika (short from Veronika – ed.) has a quadruple lutz, salchow, toe loop, triple axel. She just needs to be direct to stabilize it all. And that’s exactly what we’re working on. I hope that the experience I took from Alexei Nikolaevich Mishin, with whom I worked for over 20 years, will help me. I think that his scheme and system, which we are modernizing in some moments, come up with something of our own, will become the key to our good results. But in general the juniors girls are wonderful – Samodelkina is cool and Akatieva is a great girl. The girls are strong now, and it’s always great to have competition.
There are only three places on the podium after all. Do you expect Veronika to take a medal at the Junior Nationals?
Evgeni Plushenko: I do not prepare my athletes for a podium or gold medals, but to do their job, which we did in training. If they cope with it – with nerves, with adrenaline, then I think there will be a good result. Because our guys are quite strong, and Veronika is among them.
When I skated myself, I tried not to think about winning. It is clear that I wanted to win, but if you start thinking about medals and podium, you won’t go far. You just need to do your job, and the judges will assess it. Whether these scores will be good scores or bad – depends only on our skating. If we skate well – we will win.
I remember very well from my own experience when I came to my first World Championships at the age of 15 and took second place after the short program. Besides me, there were big guys at this championships, already experienced, and here I am: “Gosh, I am only 15 years old, and now I will beat them.” And I began to think about it. I came to the room after a short program, lay down imagining how I took first place, stood on a pedestal with a gold medal … And it all knocked me down. I couldn’t fall asleep for a long time, my regime was out of order, and I finished only third. Of course, at that time it was insanely cool for me. But I could have won.
Does Veronika have any prospects of becoming the second Trusova in terms of her love for multi-rotational jumps and her talent for them?
Evgeni Plushenko: I think that each should be herself, special and unique in her own way. The fact that Veronika will jump quads is undoubtfull. And I think more than one. But it takes time, because she is very young. And my task is also make so that they skate as long possible. So that they can be in sports as long as possible. It’s my position. I don’t want them to be stars just for one season.
Now the majority of your “star” skaters are those who have came to you from other coaches already as established skaters. There is nothing wrong with that, but are the athletes of the Plushenko Academy growing up, about whom everyone will start talking soon?
Evgeni Plushenko: Well, enough time has not yet passed to talk about our own grown athletes. Basically, I’ve only been working as a coach for four years. And I started working as a coach with the beginners. That is, children who came to me did not know how to skate. I started with this, and I was not ashamed of this. Because many, immediately start working with ready-made athletes with triple jumps, with quadruple jumps. And my path began with the basic training. I liked it. But I wanted more than just working with the little ones. After some time, those “ready-made” athletes began to come with jumps – triple and quadruple. And by that time I was ready to work with them.
But actually I started working seriously as a coach two years ago. I mean daily training, constant presence. I got my athletes, whom I lead and coach myself. I have great guys who came to me four years ago with double jumps.
I have a very good girl growing up – Sofa Titova. She has both triple axel and quadruple jumps on the way, and she is only 11 years old. And Alena Zhilina – Veronika’s sister – who is still quite small, but already jumps triple axel. Also Maxim Avtushenko, Sarnovskys — Sofia, Kirill, Nikita. We have both strong girls and boys, but we still need to work a lot with them. Work and work hard. And not only we should work with them, but also they should wotk themselves. And the main thing is that they have this desire.