It's the testing cycle at work, and that means I have too much time on my hands while a script is running. So, to prevent myself from falling asleep, I translated Plushy's profile article from his webpage plushenko.narod.ru. Warning - it reads as if Evgeny is some kind of a mix between George Washington and V.I. Lenin. Anyway, got some fun tidbits. As I understand, the article is a compilation of different sources. It is quite outdated - it ends with 2004 Worlds. It's so long, I'll probably have to break it into several parts. Whatever is in parenthesis in italics is my notes. Anyway, enjoy!
Zhenya Plushenko was born in Far East. His father Victor Vasilievich, a professional stone smith and carpenter, went there to make money. Both he and Zhenya's mother Tatiana Vasilievna were building the BAM. At the time, Plushenkos lived with their oldest daughter Lena in a small town Urgal in the Khabarovsk region. It was there that on November 3d 1982, a month before the due date, Zhenya Plushenko was born. According to his mom, the boy was "extra long" - while weighed 2900 grams (~6.5 lbs), he was 57 cm high (~23").
Life wasn't easy. The family lived in a wooden train car that "didn't even have a TV". The Plushenkos shared it with other families. Zhenya was a lively and energetic boy. He learned to walk very early, and was running by nine months. Zhenya also started speaking at a young age. The only clouds in the boy’s childhood were constant colds. Due to the tough climate, Zhenya got sick a lot. When he was a year and three months old, he got sick at the nursery school. At first, doctors diagnosed a common cold, both after a week the baby was rushed to the emergency room; it turned out he had double pneumonia. Zhenya spent three months in the hospital. The fever wouldn't go down, and the medicine wasn't helping. To stop this torture of her son, Zhenya's mom decided to take him out of the hospital. Seeing that medicine was useless, the parents went seeking alternate solutions. Following the advice of old women, they started taking their son outside for fresh air in all weather. They also started doing sports with him. At first it was the sleds, then the skis, and finally the bike. They even built a little sports corner at home - with a ladder, bars, and swings. Zhenya indeed got better, yet that wasn't enough. The family realized they had to change the climate. So, in the summer of 1986, the Plushenkos moved to Volgograd.
Once, walking in a park in Volgograd, Zhenya and his mom ran into an acquaintance. The woman was complaining that her daughter was refusing to skate. It was next to impossible to buy ice skates at the time, and she felt bad that such a treasure was going to waste. She then offered Zhenya to try. He accepted, and the woman gave him his first skates - "Botas".
The very next day, February 25, 1987, they went to sign up for the figure skating classes. Mom decided that "there wouldn't be any place better than figure skating" for physical toughening up. Zhenya was accepted immediately; he was even mistaken for a girl at first (he had long blonde hair). After he furiously complained that he was indeed a boy, he was accepted ever more enthusiastically, as the group lacked boys. Not only had other kids already skated for half a year, but Zhenya, at 4 years and 2 months, was the youngest in the group. At times, things wouldn’t work, and it was hard. Little Zhenya would cry. Yet his first coach, Tatiana Nikolaevna Skala, would always find time to help and console him, "It's OK, Zhenya, you're falling now, but you'll be winning in no time!" Zhenya improved fast. After a week, he could do all three splits. More importantly, working at rink the improved the boy's health. Slowly, he grew stronger and stopped getting sick. Before, he couldn't ride three stops on the trolley without getting car sick; now, his inner ear got healthy enough, and those problems went away. In time, Zhenya really got into the figure skating. His mom was happy, as the child was getting healthy, and wasn't out on the streets. Before figure skating Zhenya most liked soccer, but then the skating won over. "After skating for two weeks, I said, “What soccer?” Skating became like a drug". After some time, though, Zhenya wanted to play hockey. "After training sessions, I'd watch other kids play." The boy told his mom about it, and she suggested he skate for another month before deciding. "After a month, I didn’t want to do anything else".
Once at a training session Zhenya's mom saw a girl doing a Biellman spin, and suggested that Zhenya try it. A week later, he was doing it. "When I first did a Biellman, mom rewarded me with a picnic. We roasted potatoes on the camp fire, cooked the borscht..." Zhenya was delighted and very proud of the new element. "When I first started skating, I saw Biellman's performance on TV, and loved it. Her spin had a magical effect on me. I swore to learn to do it." But "it was my mom who suggested I could actually do it". For many years, Tatiana Vasilievna regularly stretched Zhenya. According to him, "all of my signature spins – Biellman, doughnut - would have been impossible without mom's unwavering efforts".
Zhenya could never skate in pairs. "I wasn't so strong to carry a girl around; besides, a quickly progressed in single skating."
Just three months after joining the rink, Zhenya started competing. At his first competition, he was 7th out of 15 kids who were all two to three years older than he.
Zhenya started dreaming of ice victories at the age of five, when he first saw a performance of the famous Victor Petrenko.
Zhenya still remembers his first victory. "At seven, I was competing at Crystal Skate in Samara. I was rewarded with en electronic game Air Combat. I was so happy, I felt there couldn't be more important competitions".
When Zhenya was nine, he almost quit figure skating. By that time, he had a new coach in Mikhail Makoveev. He specialized in weight lifting, and made the kids do a lot of running and power exercises. That, however, wasn't the problem. The new boots were. After the soft and comfortable Czech "Botas", they were too rough. Yet the coach insisted the skater practice his jumps. The feet became covered with bloody calluses; it was hard to walk, let alone jump. Zhenya took off his boots, put them on the coach's table, and said that he wasn't going to skate any longer. With that, he left. A week later, the coach called to apologize, and asked him to come back. Zhenya did. "I had to skate. If I didn't skate for two or three days, my knees and muscles would hurt so badly I couldn’t think of anything else." With time, he got used to the boots, and learned to jump in them. "At eleven, I did all triple jumps, and that was quite a feat." It was then, when Plushenko turned eleven, that the figure skating school in Volgograd closed down. In the early 90's, children's sport wasn’t profitable. The building was turned into a market or a car dealership. The rink is still closed; it now houses a warehouse.
What was there to do? There were many options. Zhenya was a well rounded boy, and he had had a lot in his life besides skating.
Zhenya liked to read and did well in school - up until the sixth grade, he was a straight A student. He read his first book on his own at 6 - it was Nosov's 2-volume "Ignoramus on the Moon".
As a child, Zhenya wanted to be in the army. Seeing a soldier or an officer on the street, he'd just freeze and watch with bated breath. He even had an army style shirt that Tatiana Vasilievna altered from an adult one. Dad also got for him a military hat and holster. As any other boy, Zhenya adored guns and cars. He'd draw them, or ask Santa Claus to bring him some. One time he got a tank that could shoot little toy ammo, with a remote control no less! But a visiting girl broke it. Zhenya, who was always very careful about his things, was very upset. But he forgave Natashenka Kuznetsova; it was, after all, his first "love". They were each about four at the time. Actually, Zhenya never deprived the female part of the population of his attention. On the ice, he'd always help the girls who fell, even if he'd get in trouble with the coach for it.
At the same time, Zhenya wasn't a "good boy". "I just couldn't sit still at school. I'd always monkey around." Besides, he'd get into fist fights in school. "The guys teased me for being in a girly sport, so I had to prove with my fists that it weren't so." Zhenya started smoking early on - back when he was a year and a half, he'd run around their wagon with a stick or a match in his mouth. He started smoking for real in the second grade. Then, his father just gave him a pack of cigarettes and suggested he sit with him and smoke. The boy was stunned, and no longer felt like smoking at recess.
The only love that did not go away for Zhenya was his love of soccer. Yet everything kept coming back to figure skating. "Soccer is rather rude, so I chose figure skating." He also had offers to go into dance - to Mariinski Theater (Kirov Ballet) no less. Faced with a choice of dancing instead of skating, "I chose figure skating". It was then, when Zhenya turned 11, that he realized that skating wasn't just a hobby for him, but a way of life. He couldn't live without it, he had to keep training. But where? He had two offers - to Moscow or to Petersburg. "I couldn't care less where to go. Together with my parents, we decided to choose Petersburg."