“They are not pots with flowers to steal at night. Living people with character, history and soul!” Evgeni Plushenko about transfers and work with Trusova and Kostornaia
In the interview Evgeni Plushenko told how hard Alexandra Trusova works, why he offered peace to Eteri Tutberidze and when Alina Zagitova was going to switch to his academy.
by Anatoli Samokhvalov for rsport.ria.ru dd. 16th October 2020
The chairman of the coaching council of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Elena Anatolievna Tchaikovskaya, praised Alexandra Trusova very much after her victory at the Russian Cup stage. She said that your figure skater improved in plasticity, in musicality, began to skate differently and looks differently. How do you like these compliments?
Evgeni Plushenko: Elena Anatolievna is the greatest coach. And I am pleased when she says such words about Sasha. This means that the work is really going on. I read the comments of many coaches, 99 percent of them said the same thing as Elena Anatolievna. I am pleased with this, I think, Sasha too, and our entire team. It means that we are on the right track. It is impossible to change an athlete completely in six months, but we have already made some adjustments. Sasha is really a hard worker, a great athlete, and we would like to have more of such purposeful people who are ready to work hard every day.
If we imagine that Sasha’s new image is a constructor, then who, to a greater extent, worked on her skating skills?
Evgeni Plushenko: At first, when Seryozha Rozanov worked (with Trusova), the skating skills was on him. I was partly involved in some things, in the work on steps. Dmitry Mikhailov has done a tremendous job. I believe that everyone made their own contribution, but if Sasha hadn’t understood this problem herself, which was before, nothing would have happened. Now I don’t think we have this problem. Now she skates decently, makes steps decently, makes all the counters, rockers and everything else – loops, twizzles. She performs everything perfectly. I just want to say that when girls skate with triple jumps, and someone with triple axel, then these are completely different loads. Or with three quads – this is also a completely different concentration. Sasha is ready to work – that’s the most important. And she shows by this (work) that she has already changed. Both in choreography and skating skills. We know our weaknesses, but we will improve them.
How radically has she changed?
Evgeni Plushenko: She really changed radically. Whatever the people who gloat say. They say she has not changed or has become worse – this is complete nonsense. Figure skating professionals see everything. It is impossible to trick them.
Has the turning point in Trusova’s changes happened during creating new program?
Evgeni Plushenko: No, we started to change as soon as we started the training process. We immediately started to work a lot on skating skills, because it was impossible to jump, because no one starts jumping right after he comes back from vacation. We focused on basic strocking steps. We started to work on skating skills, skating skills and skating skills. Sasha skates her programs a lot.
Was it difficult to explain her what exactly do you want to convey to her?
Evgeni Plushenko: Sasha perceives everything well. Everything is fine. The main thing is that she wants. There are athletes who don’t want to do this and cannot be forced, but she wants to.
Did she herself wanted to become that very feminine, because she was always focused on her five quads?
Evgeni Plushenko: Quads have nothing to do with that, she wants to be plastic, sweet, what she, actually, is. She got that cliché when she was still very young and small. Then she was cut out for quadruple jumps. Look at her current short program – this is a sweet, gentle girl. They (the skaters) are all different. Take Kamila Valieva, she is only 14 years old, just a child. Let’s see how she will continue to skate. Take Usacheva – she is also a child. Let’s see how she will skate at the age of 16-17. Is a big question whether they will skate the same way. Will they be able to skate like that – I don’t know. They are all cute, cool, and Sasha Trusova is a sweet, kind, gentle girl. She tries to skate feminine. And all these “five quads and that’s it” – a cliché. She will do these five quads, but she also improved in her skating. She is completely different now, not the one that she was a year ago or two. No matter how hard our enemies try to say that Sasha has not changed and has remained the same wooden one, I will answer that this is complete nonsense. Complete. All professionals see this.
And who are these enemies?
Evgeni Plushenko: Well, what’s the difference, enemies and foes. Who knows will understand.
People mostly praise.
Evgeni Plushenko: Praise, but there are those who do not praise.
At the Russian Cup stage in Moscow, Trusova got 75.77 points for the short program, the competitors had 80 and 85 points. Were you upset that Saturday night?
Evgeni Plushenko: Of course, I was upset, because a 14 year-old girl should not be given 6.0, if we take the old system. Now we have 10.0. It is impossible to give a 14-year-old child such high marks. Yuzuru Hanyu doesn’t get tens. However he skates better.
He gets tens.
Evgeni Plushenko: Not at all competitions.
Kamila also. Is it about age?
Evgeni Plushenko: Sure. There is no such powerful skating yet. Carolina Kostner didn’t get tens.
Carolina Kostner at this age was called angular.
Evgeni Plushenko: I’m talking about senior skating and (at the same time) I take a 14-year-old girl as an example. A child cannot get 10 a priori. Just can’t. Yes, it was very beautiful, great skating, but it still doesn’t reach 10. What will she strive for next? Nothing. You cannot give 10 at the age of 14, this is complete nonsense.
It’s a cliché. She is a genius child.
Evgeni Plushenko: Who?
Evgeni Plushenko: No one says that she is bad. Of course, she is brilliant, but I explain again: she does not skate on 10. From a professional point of view, you can find fault with many things.
With 10 she would have probably got 90, but she got 85.
Evgeni Plushenko: But she was given tens, this cannot be done, and the judges agree with this. The same as judging one (athlete) and closing eyes on the edges and some errors of another.
But not on Sasha’s?
Evgeni Plushenko: Yes. If we take Usacheva, for example, she has Flutz. But for some reason, she was given a clean outside edge on this jump and +3GOE, although there is actually an inner one. I want everything to be fair for everyone. Sasha deserved second place (in the short program), but not the third. Sasha shouldn’t have a 10-point gap (from Valieva, who was in the lead). Everyone has already agreed with this. +6 points could have been given, but not 10. I understand that a safety cushion was made for the free program, but it didn’t work out.
Was this safety cushion made by the judges?
Evgeni Plushenko: Sure.
That is, the judges are supportive of the group of Eteri Tutberidze?
Evgeni Plushenko: I would even say, very much. But we will change this.
Why do the judges treat you like that?
Evgeni Plushenko: I would not want to go into details yet, everything is still ahead, we have a long life. Let’s stop here for now.
Is this still a question of the experience of the coaching group?
Evgeni Plushenko: What does the experience and the coaching group have to do with it? I don’t even want to go into this story, I know what the matter is, and everyone understands this perfectly. But I think everyone heard me.
I wonder how you feel, standing next to the same Eteri at the
Evgeni Plushenko: Fine, to be honest, I treat her coaching staff with great respect. Because they are very good specialists, especially Sergei Dudakov. Eteri Tutberidze is a great coach. Daniil Gleikhengauz is very good, in some moments. These are good guys with a lot of experience.
Why did you single out Dudakov?
Evgeni Plushenko: They are very good specialists, and I have no negative attitude towards them. I respect them, they are great, this is a very strong coaching team. They have all the conditions that the state gives them, a lot of ice, everything is cool. I did not quarrel with anyone, I did not lured athletes from anyone. Athletes come on their own, and they (Tutberidze’s coaching staff) must understand and stop saying: “Plushenko lured away, took away.” What is being done by the director (“Sambo-70” Renat Laishev). The athletes came on their own, this must be understood once and for all. They should figure it out in themselves why this is happening. Maybe athletes will leave me too. If this happens, I will say, “They left.”
Eteri’s coaching staff made it clear that it was about luring, when the correspondence between Alina Zagitova and Yana Rudkovskaya was leaked.
Evgeni Plushenko: As for Alina, Yana really communicates with her for a long time. Alina was really going to switch to my school a year ago, and no one lured her away. It’s really so.
Did she address you and say that she decided to switch?
Evgeni Plushenko: I tell you how it is, why do you need to know how it was happening?
This is the most interesting. This is the answer, whether you lured her or not.
Evgeni Plushenko: Yana texted her this time, because we have a show. It didn’t say “come train with us”.
Well, that’s obvious.
Evgeni Plushenko: We have shows, while she is not in sports, we decided to make an offer.
Evgeni Plushenko: This season she will not skate.
Well that this season, most likely, she will not.
Evgeni Plushenko: And we have a show not only in Russia, but also abroad. Next year we are planning to show our “Swan Lake” in Japan. Our Japanese partners, like us, would like to see Alina as a “White Swan” there, we wanted to invite her to skate with us, test new ice (we have a Canadian water purification system – mirror ice), Western choreographers will help in staging shows for Asia. Alina really wanted this role. Yana discussed this with her a year ago, therefore we invited her.
When an athlete does not skate, but hosts a show on television, she is not in sports, she has various other options. She’s not a serf. She has no agents, no one. I think, she even does not even know about it. We offered her to cooperate. Where is luring here? The aim is the proposal to skate in a show, in Japan, not even in Russia (since she skates with Tanya Navka in Moscow). There is no luring, there is an offer to cooperate. We have Yulia Lipnitskaya, Adelina Sotnikova, Lena Radionova, and Ksenia Stolbova skating in shows, no one asked the coaches for permission.
She is a member of another coaching staff.
Evgeni Plushenko: Well, what’s wrong with that?
To be perfectly honest, you need to go to the coaching staff first. Let’s say Tatyana Navka invited her to the show, but she called Tutberidze first.
Evgeni Plushenko: I don’t care who invited her. Eteri is not her manager. I have a manager, and everyone knows through whom to communicate. Either they call me directly, or they communicate through the manager. Or they call directly, and I send to the agent. Alina Zagitova has no manager.
The position is clear.
Evgeni Plushenko: Well, that’s all. Why should I call the coach? I’m not inviting her to Japan to compete at the Japan Open.
And why everyone hang on to this word “luring”, after all, it has always been so?
Evgeni Plushenko: I say once again that no one lures anyone. Alena Kostornaia came by herself, two years ago Sasha Trusova’s dad came, we talked, but then I could not decide everything, because I had a small rink. Sasha Trusova came herself and said: “Yes, I want to train with you.” I just want the sofa people (critics) to understand this once and for all, but so far it is very difficult for them to understand. Because there (in “Sambo-70”) they say that they were lured away: how poor and unfortunate we are, the girls were taken away from us, they did not tell us anything. You must already be a little more courageous, more confident in yourself and understand that they have left you. They are not pots with flowers to steal at night. Living people. Each with her own character, her own history and soul!
You can’t do without contracts in this business, and contracts cannot be made …
Evgeni Plushenko: Why?
Because they are minor children.
Evgeni Plushenko: Well, sign contracts with the parents. Everything is possible.
They asked a question to the federation, but there …
Evgeni Plushenko: Where there is a will, there is a way. All this can be done.
If time passes and Sasha Trusova says to you: “Evgeni Viktorovich, excuse me, I’m going to Mishin’s”?
Evgeni Plushenko: Look, this is athlete’s decision. Of course, I will be offended. It would hurt me. I will be very sad to lose such an athlete. Because she is a really strong athlete. But this is her decision. How can I keep her? Lock her in the room? It’s impossible. You have to be realistic. And not to have you head in the clouds that we are so great, they did not leave us, but were lured away. Come down to the ground.
When you meet at a competition, do you greet?
Evgeni Plushenko: I met them after the competition and offered peace.
Evgeni Plushenko: The coaching staff. My wife and I had a meeting (with the coaching staff), and I said that it was not necessary, it seems to me, to create any quarrels. I also explained that they need to take it for granted, that the athletes left them, and no one lured them away and certainly did not steal!
Who were you talking to from the coaching staff?
Evgeni Plushenko: Three are people in the coaching team.
Dudakov, Gleikhengauz, Tutberidze?
Evgeni Plushenko: Right.
What did they answer?
Evgeni Plushenko: We did not find peace there, so I told my wife, who is not only my wife but and a co-owner of my schools, if someone still perceives Yana so narrowly and shortsightedly, but also a person who helps athletes in everything: sponsors, ice, builds the best conditions for them to practice. I said: “They don’t want peace, so let’s go.” Unfortunately, you, journalists, were not allowed into the zone (communication with athletes), and we had a short meeting. I do not want to quarrel with anyone. But I do not want to deceive and mislead people.
You are “Angels” in the form of a pony, as Alexei Yagudin pointed out in his Instagram video.
Evgeni Plushenko: I answered him everything. Why does he need it? What does he have to do with this? There is a fight between the two schools in competitions, as it once was between Mishin and Tarasova. I understand everything, but what does Yagudin have to do with it? Not enough attention? Stop buying houses in France and build skating rinks in Russia, tain groups daily. Who is stopping you? Everyone has his own path. After such a humiliating attitude towards my school and the athletes of my academy, I would not want Alexei to comment on their performances anywhere. There is a bias here. It will be necessary to show this video to Channel One. He needs to take an example from his coach, from the great Tatiana Anatolievna Tarasova, who says everything to the point.
Averbukh wrote “Bravo!” under that post, Tutberidze “liked it”. This is a usual “trash-talk”, as in MMA, boxing.
Evgeni Plushenko: I am not interested what they think about me, since I do not think about them at all and never touch them! Yana sometimes shows me. They are bored, and I have a gigantic responsibility, two construction, more than 100 athletes, a son was born, Sanya (the eldest son) needs attention …
Or maybe you shouldn’t make a peace for the sake of popularizing the sport?
Evgeni Plushenko: I took a step forward, so as not to make any attacks on each other, I told them that no one is attacking you, but I will defend myself. I will defend myself toughly, a lot of information is not in favor of their coaching staff, a lot of parents are ready to voice the facts.
Evgeni Plushenko: I (for now) tell you this, but there is a lot of information, it’s not for nothing that half of Chrustalny is training with me now. It’s not for nothing the same Laishev, the director who is a civil servant in government work … Don’t touch me, I didn’t touch him, but the official calls me a “slacker”, “thief” and so on. I understand that he has the image of a jester who does not understand anything about figure skating, but at least sometimes he should think what he’s talking about.
In May, you told me that Trusova and Rozanov are one project. “Trusova came with Rozanov.”
Evgeni Plushenko: Trusova came by herself. Then Sasha asked me: “Take Sergey Alexandrovich, please, I want to train with him further.” To which I replied: “Sergei Alexandrovich is a very good specialist, I will take him with pleasure.” To prevent gossips, I will say that Sasha came first and alone. Sergei Aleksandrovich was “for” this cooperation and came with pleasure. And we started working as one team. As of today, they really don’t work together. Serezha leads Kostornaia and other athletes, Sasha has other coaches.
How did it happen?
Evgeni Plushenko: It happens. If it’s more convenient like this, comfortable – I’m fine with it. Seryozha has no problems and Sasha has no problems.
The coach came to Sasha, Sasha wanted to work with him, and this is the specialist who proved his level of skill.
Evgeni Plushenko: Seryozha did her two programs – short and free. Very good programs. But something …
Evgeni Plushenko: The vector has changed. It happens.
… because Alena has come.
Evgeni Plushenko: What does this have to do with it? Rozanov leads Kostornaia and athletes, whom we have enough. Sasha is being led by Dima Mikhailov, Sergei Alekseev and me. Ilinykh works with Kostornaia and also with other athletes. We are taking more specialists for Sasha. In professional sports, it happens that something did not fit, did not work out.
In our interview with you after Kostornaia’s transition, I asked how Alena and Sasha would “tear Rozanov apart”. You said that I was talking nonsense.
Evgeni Plushenko: Time has passed a little, everything fell into place.
Evgeni Plushenko: There are no conflicts.
Is it possible to create condition when Rozanov work with both Kostornaia and Trusova?
Evgeni Plushenko: Why do you care? The main thing is that both girls have the result.
I just want Sasha to become stronger and stronger, show the maximum. Rozanov did her programs, he should somehow control them.
Evgeni Plushenko: He controlled up to a certain point. We have changed a lot to date. Many specialists work with her.
How is Alena doing?
Evgeni Plushenko: Everything is fine, she’s recovering, skates programs. The only thing that she broke a boot in training and now breaks into new one. We’re preparing for the fourth stage of the Russian Cup.
In relation to Sasha it was clear that it was necessary to change, but Kostornaia is a ready European champion, a figure skater with practically no weaknesses.
Evgeni Plushenko: Kostornaia needs to work even harder.
Does she work a little?
Evgeni Plushenko: No, but to keep the leadership, you need to work even more. It’s easier to catch up than to keep. She knows that, so we are working. She has very good programs. Both short and free, choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne. Both Kostornaia and Trusova are fine, everything is going according to plan.
Already on the first conversation with media, Alena spoke very frankly about the nuances of the transfer, about the motives, that there were no questions left. Do you like her insolence?
Evgeni Plushenko: Yes. Sure. Firstly, it boiled. That’s why she was so, maybe, harsh. The only thing, you need to thank the coaches who did a great job. I want to thank her first coach Zhgun, who perfectly prepared her, gave her a base, Elena Anatolyevna Tchaikovskaya, in whose school she skated.
But Tutberidze’s specialists brought her to the awards. Why not thank them?
Evgeni Plushenko: I say that we must thank everyone. But the journalists write like there was only she. There are coaches who also did a gigantic and very good job before Tutberidze, like Volkov with Trusova. You keep forgetting that these girls were not at Eteri’s “from scratch”, they came with all the triples.
Do you remember how your coaches in Volgograd once did this work with you?
Evgeni Plushenko: And I always say that I had coaches Tatyana Nikolaevna Skala, Mikhail Khrisanfovich Makoveev. I am insanely grateful to them. In no case should they be written off.
Сan we expect an increase in the complexity of Alena’s programs in the near future?
Evgeni Plushenko: Let us first go through the first start. Now is a very difficult time, there are no competitions, they’ve been postponed, a pandemic, she came late, a new coach, a new team, a new base … This is a new stress for girls. On the contrary, they need to be supported, but there they keep going after them.
Have you contacted Rika Kihira on social media?
Evgeni Plushenko: I advise and make friends with many athletes – world figure skating stars. I don’t comment it anymore, I don’t know why you focus on Rika, I would look in a different direction.