Hey, you beat me to it. Here is my full translation:
Evgenij PLUSHENKO: "I am ready for pressure. I don't care who will be putting it on".
Plushenko has regained his title of the European champion in a tough fight with Brian Joubert. Special "Izvestija" correspondent Igor Poroshin met with the most titled contemporary figure skater the day after his triumph on the Turin ice. Plushenko was very calm and confident in his superiority over the opponents.
Is there anyone in the world who can win gold given that Plushenko skates cleanly or even with small mistakes as it was in Turin?
No. If I have a clean skate, no one can overtake me.
Won't American Johnny Weir or Canadian Jeffrey Buttle be your equals if the finally get the quad - they are incredibly gifted skaters in all other regards?
I know they do it in practice, but don't risk putting it into the programs. That's the new judging system for you. Whereas before everyone took risks, now many are content with doing what feels comfortable. If Weir and Buttle don't attempt anything more, then they fear loosing the ground they've gained. That ground doesn't put them in first.
You don't like the new judging system?
It's complicated. It has its advantages. But the main disadvantage is greater - the system doesn't stimulate the growth of figure skating. The main motivation until now has been the attempt to do more difficult jumps while maintaining beautiful footwork and spins. Now I see many skaters replacing triple axel - triple toe loop combinations with triple lutz - triple to loop. In new system, it doesn't pay to take a risk. Risk, meanwhile, is a worthy endeavor.
Your main European opponent, Brian Joubert, does not lighten up his programs. In terms of jumps they are as difficult as yours. Does it mean Joubert is more dangerous for you then the others?
Joubert, Weir, Buttle, Sandhu, Goebel - I don't distinguish anyone from that group. All those guys are equally dangerous. Each has his strong and weak sides. One has cool spins, but isn't too strong in jumps. Another is the opposite - has the quads, but can't spin and isn't too artistic.
You mean Joubert?
I have nothing against him personally. Quite the opposite, I like competing against Joubert - he has a strong character, and is a real fighter. He knows how to put out not even 100, but 120 percent at competitions. But I am always surprised at his second mark. I think it's too high.
Are the judges creating the intrigue to entertain the viewers?
I think so. Everyone understands that figure skating has stopped developing, and is trying to move it forward. I just don't understand why Joubert is touted as Plushenko's main opponent. It would be fairer to name Stephan Lambiel. He is an all-around athlete, who, to be blunt, has stronger skating skills, spins, footwork, and artistry than Joubert. Yet Lambiel's second mark in the free skate was four points lower. So nothing has changed. The objectivity is still absent. Judges are as free in their like and dislikes as before. And the second mark, as before, remains the vessel for those feelings. Hey, why not Joubert. I am ready for the pressure.
Are you ready for increased pressure? Say, your old friend Alexei Yagudin and Tatiana Tarasova will become full members of Joubert team in the Olympic season. Tarasova already choreographs his programs, and Yagudin is Joubert's consultant. True, it's still mainly PR. But what if it goes beyond PR and choreography, and you'll face the whole team that defeated you at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
That's Joubert's right. I can't forbid him from working with Tarasova. Frankly, I couldn't care less about his team in the Olympic season. I have my team. We learned from the mistakes of the last Olympic cycle. We became stronger. Though I have to say I don't like athletes changing coaches all the time. It's wrong. You have to treat the coach as a person, not a machine that makes you.
Perhaps Joubert would have the same principles had he trained with Mishin.
I never denied having been very lucky with my coach.
I'm sure you've heard the opinion that Plushenko spends too much effort on various shows, and that it impacts his skating. What can you say to this?
At this point, Plushenko is the World, European, and Grand Prix champion - that's my retort. I get many offers to take part in ice shows, and I decline most of them. The shows that I do go to not only earn me money, but also the opportunity to perfect the programs, to see how the audience reacts. This is very important from the athletic perspective.
To explain the world of professional figure skating, can you tell us what percentage of you income comes from the shows versus the actual athletic competitions?
Certainly, most income comes room the shows. At least because there are far more shows than competitions.
Today we see many attempts in Russia to transform one-time and haphazard ice shows into something professionally organized. In particular, Ilya Averbukh has created his ice
enterprise. What do you think of the potential of such business in Russia?
I think they're good. Ilya is great. What he is doing can bring great results. I don't mean just the financial side. Most people quit serious figure skating as kids because in this sport only World and European medallists can earn descent money. If in Russia ice shows will become successful and profitable, this will dramatically increase the prestige of our sport, and parents will start bringing in their children to skating clubs not just, as they say, out of "love of art". Profitability is a very important stimulus.
Do you have a feeling of having been born in the wrong time? Just seven to ten years ago, it was very different. Former World champions and Olympic medallists made fortunes in tours and so-called professional championships. TV and advertisers also treat figure skaters differently. Now, ABC is reconsidering its contract with ISU to lessen it, ice shows are cutting the programs, and the prize money for skaters are falling.
I know that the stars of previous years earned significantly more than they do today. But I have enough. I feel very comfortable, and for me titles are still the most important. First and foremost, the Olympic title that I still lack.
In today's figure skating, is it possible to make more than a million dollars a year? I'm
not talking about advertising contracts of Michelle Kwan - she is unique.
I can only talk about myself. I don't earn millions.
I know you like football.
Yes, and by the way I'm good friends with Sasha Kerzhakov.
Do you envy football players? You are at least the Ronaldo of figure skating, but you don't get even one fiftieth of this money and fame.
Honestly, it happens. But there isn't much you can do - it's fate. I chose figure skating, not football. TV creates the commercial attractiveness of a sport. Advertising attractiveness of figure skating is significantly lower than that of football. You can't dress a skater in Adidas or Nike. We don't compete much. A skater spends just four minute on the ice, and another couple of minute in the kiss and cry corner. A football team, dressed in the uniform of the same maker with the same sponsors' logos, is constantly on screen for 90 minutes. Understanding football rules is far simpler than out lutzes and flips. Also, in figure skating there is an immense gap in earnings between those who regularly medal, and those who go just behind them. Not to mention the athletes of second and third tiers. Compared to, say, tennis, not just the actual sums, but also the gap in earnings is like day and night. However, we're talking about the most successful sports; if we compare gymnastics with figure skating, we'll see that my sport isn't so bad after all.
I really like your free skate. In my opinion, it's your best one in the last four years, perhaps in your whole career.
Given that, do your regret having it in the pre-Olympic year? Shouldn't you have saved it for the Olympics?
Well, that would have been odd. Edvin Marton got the inspiration and wrote the music. My coach and I heard what Edvin did, and got inspired as well. I couldn't get that melody out of my head. Anything else would have seemed boring in comparison if we decided, as you suggest, to put it away for the Olympic season.
Some skaters use the same program for two seasons. Would you?
I won't rule it our. Though I'd like to try making something even more captivating.
Will you remain the sport if your dream does come true and in a year you, as today, will bring gold back from Turin?
I can't answer this question now. It will depend on how I'll feed at the time. If I'll get tired of the sport, I'll go. It's very hard to approach each championship with the idea that you must be the first. Also, not only I can get tired of winning, the audience can get tired of my victories. Leaving at the right time is a great art.