New article on what Alexei has been up to from AFP wireservice:
Russia's Yagudin Thrives on New Challenges
By: Kathleen Bangs
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, Dec 11 (AFP) - Alexei Yagudin, who announced his retirement from top level figure skating competition last month, is enjoying his new freedom away from the rink.
"I can't believe I actually got to sit down and watch 'Friends' tonight on TV," said Yagudin. "It's my favourite show and for years I've only had time to see re-runs."
The 23-year-old Russian said so long to the amateur side of the sport after achieving the highest honours. "After all, there is nothing left for me to win," he said.
He is the reigning Olympic men's figure skating champion, holds the record for most perfect scores in Olympic men's singles, is a four-time world champion, three time European champion and has countless more titles and gold medals that bear his name.
An athlete who thrives on new challenges, Yagudin says he's found one in professional figure skating, a segment of the sport he's now working to revitalize.
Yagudin headlines the biggest and most prestigious show tour in the world, Stars On Ice, which debuted November 29 and begins a 65 city sweep across the United States starting January 2.
It runs through mid-April before moving north for the Canadian audiences.
"It's not like some of the other tours where you just go out and skate your number and you're done," said Yagudin. "We all do many numbers together, we're all responsible to and for each other and that brings us closer together, like family."
"This year our shows are going to be better than ever. Scott Hamilton has taken over as producer, and the choreography is new and exciting.
"Everything moves faster and we're all working very hard to make this tour the best the fans have ever seen."
Since winning the 2002 World Title in Nagano, Yagudin's fame in Japan has soared.
"I'm really excited that I have special shows scheduled in Tokyo for December 28 and 29 where I will perform with the top Japanese skaters, just coming off their national championships."
Yagudin is so popular with Japanese fans that his shows sold out in a record fifteen minutes, prompting tour organizers to quickly add a third performance.
"I love the Japanese fans," added Yagudin.
He plans to let Japan have the first crack at his new autobiography which will be released there in early 2004.
Yagudin has become the champion by which other men’s best attempts will be compared to for decades to come. His driving force remains a mystery. Whether it’s that more than his rivals he just had to win, or on the contrary, just couldn’t stand to lose, Yagudin kept the sport entertaining.
Yagudin's fans can take comfort that, while he may not be seen actually on the ice in Olympic eligible competition, he will still be in the arena, commanding other top skaters' careers.
He recently announced he will assist in coaching French national champion and solid 2006 Olympic contender Brian Joubert.
Yagudin will be at Joubert's side during the French Nationals, December 20 and 21, which will determine which French skaters will be sent to the World Championships next march.
Already this season Yagudin has successfully guided 18 year old
compatriot Andrei Griazev to a gold medal victory at two junior Grand Prix figure skating events, their first together as student and coach.
Asked what final words of advice he had for Griazev moments before taking the ice in the crucial free skate at the last junior Grand Prix event Yagudin responded, “Go out there and fight for yourself, because no one else can do that for you.”
Yagudin will coach Griazev, the odds-on favourite, at the Junior Grand Prix Final in Malmo, Sweden on December 12-14.
Unabashed to predict Griazev’s chance for gold at the Junior Grand Prix Final, the new coach smiled.
“Yes, he will win” said a determined Yagudin, his competitive nature still never far from the surface, “He has to.”
"A great skater does not necessarily make a great coach," says Yagudin.
"During the days my student competed, I found myself going through the same rhythm of getting ready I would do when I was competing - it's as intense - because if they die out there, you die with them."
(Reprinted with copyright permission from author)
GOOD LUCK ANDREI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!