Late May in Moscow saw the shooting of the ice opera “Infinity”, scheduled to open in September. Olympic Champion of 2002 Alexei Yagudin has one of the leads. According to Alexei, when he was first invited to take part in the opera (that was before Salt Lake City), he could hardly believe it would actually happen. When he finally came home from the States, he was astounded to see how the project has moved along.
“I always wanted to perform in Russia, but I didn’t get a chance for a long time”, admitted Yagudin. “I only did Artur Dmitriev’s show last September. Ilya Averbukh invited me and Anton Sikhuralidze to his new show, but unfortunately I was bounded by a contract abroad; while Anton toured Russia, I performed in Canada”.
To be fair, all this doesn’t mean that Alexei would give up on American and Canadian shows for the sake of “Infinity”. After all, he only gets a token reimbursement for the Russian project. Meanwhile, the skater’s earnings have doubled since he turned pro.
“We have 72 performances, 60 in America and 12 in Canada. I am on the road from January 4 to May 4. I also do professional competitions, as well as solo performances.”
By the way, it’s a hellish job. Skaters spend up to four months in a bus. Yagudin is rather lucky, since the “house on wheels” made for eight people only houses four – himself, Anton Sikhuralidze, Elena Berezhnaja and Sarah Hughes. The latter chose to escape her compatriots as they would often tease her about her weight.
“After the first year, Anton and I decided it wasn’t too bad. The second was worse. Now, the third one is a bit much. We already knew what would be where, and would just count off – 42nd performance, 43d, and so on. Therefore, when it was all over and we were doing the last bows at the last show, I cried not the tears of sadness, but the tears of joy. I waited for that moment a long time.”
Yagudin plans to spend a total of ten years in professional sport. In any case, he plans thinks his health will allow him to compete for another seven. He’s very glad he didn’t choose to have a surgery following the Olympics, as it turned out that in case of surgery his whole hip would have needed to be replaced.
“At this moment I am absolutely delighted I didn’t torture myself with any serious surgery, but just left. I was in pain for about a year. At 17 or 18 I trained and competed, but then it was over, and everything changed. I would even sometimes cry when I’d watch competitions. I wanted to be there. Now I just find it funny.”
Lesha also isn’t sure he’d been able to hang in for another four years in eligible ranks. No one knows how life would have played itself out. But the Olympic Champ doesn’t like to predict the future. Though he is serious about a possible project with Evgeny Plushenko once the latter win the Turin Olympics.
“I wait for Zhenya to stop competing and get more free time. Now, he is tied up with his coach Alexei Nikolaevich Mishin, as well as the Russian Figure Skating Federation that doesn’t like me much. I am not suggesting we all become one happy family. I have some business proposals, and I think Zhenya and I can discuss it.”
For example, if Evgeny would want to, and health permitting, it’s possible to invite athletes and organize professional shows, competing within some new parameters.
“Why not? Especially so, since I’ve never fought with Zhenya. Sure, we were opponents, but I’ve never had anything against Zhenya. I’ve never said anything bad about him, and I never offended anyone either.”
Thanks Mikhail - I enjoyed reading the translation.
I ate in that restaurant Sphinx in Petersburg but who knew it belonged to Anton? It was very cozy, intimate and I had a delicious dinner. Not unlike those cafes where 'artsy' people hang out and dine. I recommend it for your next visit to Petersburg.
Alexei to me seems lonely. He doesn't talk much about friends but he reminisces about skating pasts. He's certainly not happy in the US. He takes jabs at it here and there. Again, he seems lonely - not really befriending anyone. He relies a lot on TT and visits with Katia and Ilia but not often.
Even in SOI he seems distant from the others. It would be nice if Russia could offer him more. I think he would like to live there.
I agree with him that the interest in figure skating has waned in America. However, I don't think it was because of a lack of a Gold Olympian. For me, it was the fraudulent judging that finally came to a blow out in Salt Lake City. In any event figure skating at its highest rating doesn't put him in a class with George Clooney. No figure skater from whereever and with whatever medals reaches hollywood stardom. that is reserved for the big screen. C'est la vie en Amerique
I've enjoyed his eligible skating for some time and hope he finds his way in life. Gets some good friends, Alexei! anywhere.
I agree with you on this point. I know it was a negative experience for me, as far as my fan-dom is concerned.I agree with him that the interest in figure skating has waned in America. However, I don't think it was because of a lack of a Gold Olympian. For me, it was the fraudulent judging that finally came to a blow out in Salt Lake City.
Originally Posted by Joesitz
yes,very lonely and unhappy such is the life of complex individuals
What I hear from Yagudin's interviews -- in the NA and translations of the Russian press -- he has a lot of interest in being a celebrity, and it's easy to blame lack of this on the vapidity of North American promoters and audiences. North America is good as long as he is idolized, but in his position as the outgoing Miss Universe, so to speak, he must realize that he is only one of an elite, not The One. If he's going to attempt to create the Three Tenors on Ice (with Abt in the Carreras role), his neediness reminds me of Pavarotti's "Love Me" side, while Plushenko reminds me more of Domingo. I suspect, like Pavarotti and Domingo, teaming up will reap more rewards -- internationally -- than Yagudin on his own.
I never got the impression Alexei was lonely. Compared to Ilia Kulik (and this is just my impression, I don't know personally), Alexei fits in better with SOI. In the pics for Alexei's b'day, he was hanging around with Sarah and he has said nice things about Todd Eldredge in previous interviews. He allegedly dated Kyoko Ina as well so I would think he's getting along with everyone on the tour. However he is worried that he won't be re-signed (a la Ilia Kulik) which is a shame for a skater of his stature. He's a wonderful skater and he's giving his all to that tour, why should he have less of an opportunity for a job than Todd Eldredge based on his nationality? That smacks of discrimination.
I know Joe's feelings on the employment situation, however everyone in America is from somewhere else. You can't discriminate against people because they are immigrants and I don't understand how SOI can participate in such blatant discrimination (esp if they don't rehire Alexei). The film industry doesn't have a problem hiring Australian and English actors yet the figure skating industry doesn't want to employ Russians (or give Russians the fair opportunity for employment like Americans) despite the Russian having an OGM. I hope SOI loses more money if it decides to keep Todd on and hire Mike Weiss and boots out Alexei Yagudin.
Originally Posted by hockeyfan228
quite difficult to deal with for someone as emotionally unstable as yags
Originally Posted by soogar
Good point Soogar!! I don't know that I thought he was lonely. I think he is looking at his life after skating or when Mike Weiss takes his spot in SOI. I think he is trying to get things lined up for that time and I say good for him.
Soogar, I disagree. It's about what sells, and it should be. It's natural for Americans to want to see American skaters, just as it is natural for Russians to want to see Russian ones.
Thank you, Soogar! I think I love you!Originally Posted by soogar
I am a big Alexei fan--what talent and drive he has! But the more interviews he gives, the more I am beginning to dislike him. Sometimes it seems that he bites the hand that feeds him, other times it seems that he doesn't appreciate all that he has. As an only child, perhaps he was somewhat spoiled, and used to being the center of attention. Alexei seems to crave attention. There is nothing wrong with blowing your own horn, and he has to do self-promotion in order to keep the public interested in him. With Alexei's interviews, you have to learn to separate the wheat from the chaff (to put it kindly.) Alexei does what is best for Alexei. I enjoy his performances in SOI, and it will be sad when he can no longer skate. I hope that he finds new endeavors that suit him...whatever his mood is at the time.
SkateHappy, what is it that you object to in this particular interview? He speaks badly here about two things:
1. Life on the tour. I think this is something that many skaters object to, no matter how much they love actually performing.
2. Russian FS federation. He's also spoken poorly of it, and he doesn't see it as the hand that feeds him (or has ever fed him).
As to him being the only child and therefore spoiled... that's just stereotype.
Soogar - I didn't notice that he was not being rehired in that interview. I just thought he was tired of America and that is why I kind of thought he would be better off living in Russia. Irina is also tired of the US. I don't blame them. I'm tired of the US too. I've worked with many non-Americans all my life and some go home when they retire; others stay in america. It's a choice they make.
The business of America is BUSINESS. As Ptichka says, it's natural for Americans to want to see American entertainers and the level of figure skating entertainment is not exactly as high in America as say, a renowned Russian opera singer would be singing at the Met. The glory of an olympic gold medal for a non american is, I guess, rather limited in time in the US. As for Weiss being his replacement... are you sure? then I would think a market survey was taken and Michael got more popularity mention than Yagudin. Just a thought, I have no idea why Michael would be replacing Alexei. Could be the money.
To be honest, I follow show skating only superficially. However, Alexei was always a fan of mine and I find it sad that I think he is at this point, lonely.
Hey Joe. Now you've got me REALLY curious. What do you do that caused Alexei to be a fan of yours? I ask that, because whatever it is, I want to do the same thing so he'll become of fan of mine.Originally Posted by Joesitz
On a more serious note, ITA with what you said. Personal choices. I also agree with Ptichka especially with regard to the rigors of life on a bus during tours. I often think of that when discussions get going about the rigors of less than a handful of international trips per season come up. I have traveled a lot in my business life, and at least for me, I'd much rather take a handful of international trips per year, and deal with the time zone adjustments, etc. than life from city to city to city to city each day, especially by bus, for months at a time. I'm sure every business traveler doesn't feel that way, but that's sure how I feel about the two different travel agendas. I appreciate his honesty on that point.