Evgeni Plushenko: “If Trusova wants to win gold at the Olympics, she must learn to listen to the coach.”
Interview with Evgeni Plushenko about the Olympics 2022.
source: rsport.ria.ru dd. 19th February 2022 by Boris Khodorovskii
After Alexandra Trusova’s fantastic performance in the free program in Beijing, experts agree that none of the women will be able to repeat the achievement of the silver medalist of the 2022 Olympics and perform five quadruple jumps at the Olympic event in the foreseeable future. We can say that the record of Evgeni Plushenko, who competed at four Olympics and won either gold or silver, will remain unshakable. In an interview with RIA Novosti, the two-time Olympic champion shared his impressions about the results of the competitions in Beijing and gave predictions for the future.
Have your expectations regarding the men’s Olympic event come true?
Evgeni Plushenko: In the 20 years that have passed since my first Olympics in Salt Lake City the level of figure skating has grown a lot. For girls, it’s just space! As for guys, the same can be said about Nathan Chen. Russian figure skaters performed well in general, they are moving in the right direction. Mark Kondratiuk got consistency, who skated both programs clean in the team event. Of course, in order to compete with the leaders and be in the top, you need to complicate the content. To jump all quads. I understand that it is difficult, but without this it is impossible to claim for the Olympic podium.
Alexandra Trusova spent the pre-Olympic season in your group. Do you see your contribution to her medal?
Evgeni Plushenko: I will not praise myself and my coaching staff. We tried to develop the figure skater. We changed the technique, tried to do interesting programs. Did this give something to Sasha, you need to ask her. Perhaps she will say that Plushenko did not give her anything.
From the position of a coach, is Trusova a controlled figure skater?
Evgeni Plushenko: I had problems with it. It can be said that I did not cope with the character of the figure skater. As the Olympics showed, Eteri Georgievna Tutberidze and her staff did not succeed completely. Trusova is a maximalist who believes that the raised bar of complexity should not be lowered anywhere and never. I am convinced that at the Olympics you cannot go for elements that have not been prepared one hundred percent. At the World Championships in Stockholm, Sasha decided to jump a triple axel in the short program, which didn’t work out well for her. When I decided that it was necessary to do without such a risk, Trusova was offended. She said I swayed her from the path. The coaching work is ungrateful. He is always wrong when a skater is wrong. Five quads in Beijing is, of course, an incredible level, but if Sasha hadn’t made a step-out on a toe loop, even with an underrotated by a quarter lutz, she would have become a champion. If Trusova wants to win gold at the Olympics, she must learn to listen to the coach.
Will she understand this as she gets older?
Evgeni Plushenko: When you step on the Olympic ice, you belong not only to yourself. You skate for your country, millions of fans look at you. So it is better to wait with experiments.
As an active athlete, for some time you trained on the same ice with your main competitor in the fight for gold in the most prestigious competitions. Now the situation is the same in the Tutberidze’s group. Can a coach distribute his attention without making someone jealous?
Evegni Plushenko: I think it’s impossible. Everyone wants to be the center of attention. That’s why Trusova left Tutberidze for a season. But there’s should be competition. It is much more difficult to train alone, I myself had a chance to realize it when Alexei Yagudin moved to Tatiana Tarasova. Of course, Alexei Mishin began to devote much more time to me, but I wanted to reach out for someone, compete with someone at every training. And Yagudin was very much lacked nearby. Although Tutberidze’s training process is organized almost perfectly. She has a great staff that copes with a large number of athletes.
Agree that even such a brilliant choreographer as Daniil Gleikhengauz cannot come up with ten brilliant programs for a season. From the point of view of an impartial observer, which of the three Russian stars in Beijing had a better free program in terms of choreography?
Evgeni Plushenko: “Bolero” cannot be compared with anything at all, but Kamila Valieva is a unique figure skater with amazing charisma. And the program matched that. I really like Anna Shcherbakova in the image of Margarita. “Cruella” for Trusova is also good. Of course, Sasha still needs to work a lot on artistry and charisma, and not just move from jump to jump. It is difficult to do such work in one season, but Trusova will be able to do it by the next Olympics.
Preparing for Salt Lake City, you changed your free program, abandoning the magnificent program of “The Life of an Artist” to the “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack and even missed the European Championships in Lausanne. Don’t you think it was a mistake?
Evgeni Plushenko: Now we can say that the coach and I made a big mistake. We listened to the opinion of some experts who argued: “The life of an artist” is not a winning Olympic program.” But the program was really good. The Carmen, prepared during the season, was also not bad, but now, from the standpoint of the experience gained, I can say: hesitations in the Olympic season does not lead to anything good.
At the 2002 Olympics, you won silver, although you set yourself up only for gold. I remember well that in Salt Lake City it seemed to you that life was over. What would you say today to those who did not take gold in Beijing?
Evgeni Plushenko: I don’t know if Kamila and Sasha will believe me, but at their age, sports life just begins. I am convinced that these skaters are not one-day-olds who will be forgotten immediately after their only Olympic victory. They have both a technical base and the opportunity to appear in new images, and motivation.
Do you believe that Shcherbakova will continue her career after the Olympic triumph?
Evgeni Plushenko: I think not, but I have no doubt that Anna will prove herself in other areas of life.
After the events in Beijing, it is almost certain that the upcoming ISU Congress will decide to raise the age minimum. Will the approach to training change when it will not be necessary to force the training of 12-13-year-old children to do quadruple jumps?
Evgeni Plushenko: It is unlikely that the training process will change dramatically. All the same, girls will try to learn difficult jumps as early as possible. I can only talk for myself now. There are girls in my group who, at the age of 13, perform quadruple jumps. Only they are not “killing themself” in every workout, performing them 50 times in a row. I want these girls and those who come after them to stay in the sport as long as possible.
Many generally have doubts that you work on the ice, and are not the “face” of your own academy. Although the participants of the recent Russian Junior Nationals argued the opposite.
Evgeni Plushenko: I do two workouts every day. I have two groups, older and younger. Only 30 people. Of course, this work cannot be done alone, and I have assistants.
Do you regret that you have to give up secular life?
Evegni Plushenko: Well, I never liked these parties! Now I pay a lot of attention to the development of our academy. We are finishing the hall where it will be possible to practice martial arts, we are opening the school of Sergei Filin, the great choreographer who stages all our shows.
According to the results of the Russian junior championships, Sofia Muravieva was selected for to participate in the Junior Worlds-2022. The ISU plans to make a decision on holding these competitions or their final cancellation on February 24th. Does Muravieva keep shape?
Evegni Plushenko: Certainly. While we are talking, she is preparing to work on quadruple jumps.
Surely, compared to the Olympic, the composition of the Russian team for the 2022 World Championships will undergo a change. For Mikhail Kolyada and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, can the World Championships become a compensation for the missed Olympic chance?
Evegni Plushenko: The World Championships is a prestigious competitions. Of course, nothing compares to the Olympic Games, but it is always a great honor and a great responsibility to represent your country.
Mark Kondratiuk: “Sport is not medals and titles. Sport is emotions, feelings and endless pleasure to do what you love the most.”