Gachinski aims to become Russia’s next top skater
In a dynasty, the monarch makes sure to educate and promote the heir to the throne. Something similar happened to Artur Gachinski. He was touted as the next Evgeni Plushenko when he was still a boy too young to compete at the Junior Grand Prix. He was featured prominently in a German documentary serial at the St. Petersburg Figure Skating school and was invited to international shows when he was just 12 years old.
Coach Alexei Mishin, who has been coaching Plushenko since he was eleven and coached him to three Olympic medals, proudly presented Gachinski everywhere. The skater started to train under him when he was nine and landed triple Axels in competition even before his first year on the junior circuit.
However, injuries, illnesses and a growth spurt stopped Gachinski from dominating in juniors. He made it to the Junior Final three times, but never medalled. The now 17-year-old had qualified for Junior Worlds in 2009, but withdrew due to illness before the event. He came back to take the bronze in his debut at Junior Worlds one year later.
Gachinski moved up to seniors this season. He started off strongly with wins at the international events Finlandia Trophy and Coupe de Nice in France, but was weakened by a virus infection just before Skate Canada (7th) and didn’t skate his best at the Cup of Russia either (6th).
At Russian Nationals in December, the skater took a horrible fall on the triple Axel in the short program, hitting his left knee badly. He had to interrupt his performance and needed the medical break of three minutes before he was able to resume the performance.
“Withdrawing crossed my mind when I limped off the ice, but my coach told me that I have to finish the program, and I didn’t want to stop halfway through the competition,” Gachinski said.
He did so quite well, even landed the triple loop. The next morning, his knee bothered him so much that he was unable to train.
“I was on the ice for about 10 to 15 minutes but it even hurt to do cross-overs,” the skater revealed.
He received a painkiller shot before the free skate and decided to compete. Although his performance wasn’t perfect it propelled him from ninth to second place overall.
As a result, Gachinski qualified for the European Championships in Bern, Switzerland, to be held later this month.
“It was a big surprise for me as I was a little far behind in the short program. I am very happy to have finished second,” the World Junior bronze medalist commented. “If I hadn’t been injured, I would have tried the quad toeloop. Not doing the quad was taking a step back, which is something we didn’t want to do,” he continued.
Gachinski has landed the quad toe in both the short and long program this season. His jumping technique and ability remind of Plushenko although Gachinski is less consistent than the Russian skating tsar.
Gachinski grew up being compared to Plushenko and it doesn’t bother him.
“Yes, when people call me the ‘second Plushenko’ there is a certain pressure,” the 17-year-old noted, “but it is nice because Zhenia is my idol and I’ve been watching him for a long time – ever since I started skating.”
Gachinski’s favorite jump is the triple Axel, an element he rarely misses.
“The triple Axel is my favorite jump, because I did it for the first time when I was 12 and I did it consistently when I was 13,” he explained. “And so the triple Axel mostly works for me while I sometimes have problems with the other jumps, but rarely!”
Currently, Gachinski is focusing entirely on his sport.
“Figure skating means a big goal in my life, because I’ve been striving for that for a long time,” said the skater, who moved with his family from Moscow to St. Petersburg to train under Mishin when he was nine. “I’ve been skating since I was six years old, so figure skating is the most important thing in my life right now.”
Gachinski has two new programs for the current season. In the short program he is skating to Great Gig in the Sky and Money by Pink Floyd, while his long program is set to The Bolt by Dmitri Shostakovich. Both programs were choreographed by Georgi Kovtun, a renowned Russian ballet choreographer.
“It wasn’t difficult to get into Pink Floyd,” noted Gachinski. “You don’t have to show as much emotion as in the free skating. For the free skating, we’ve changed the image somewhat. The program had a rather complicated story and it was difficult to get it across. Now I am a Pierrot, but I don’t always want to be sad and I also want to have fun. There is no relation to Shostakovich’s ballet The Bolt.”
Gachinski describes his character as “quite simple”. “I’m unpretentious; I don’t like to show off. I prefer to be left in peace. I’m very emotional, especially when something good is happening to me.”
Coach Mishin is pleased with the progress his student has made in the past months.
“His main progress is that his health is improving,” said Mishin. “There was a period of changes when his body changed from a boy to a man that was very difficult. He was injured and sick, injured and sick, and he was not powerful.”
“I suppose that in this season, and especially next season, he will really achieve high quality and he’ll get to a very high level in the world ratings,” Mishin predicted. “I think he has very interesting programs this season and can be competitive.”
Perhaps Gachinski will become the successor of Plushenko whose throne in Russia so far hasn’t been claimed, however, Gachinski will have to compete with Plushenko for it if the tsar should return.