Seven days - september 2010 (translation)

Seven days - september 2010 (scan)

Evgeni Plushenko: "I'm so tired of scandals!"

Zhenya, do you continue to train despite the ban?

- Yes. I came to Peter from Japan for five days. I train every day. Today I tried new shoes. They are a bit large for me, so we will ordered new ones. In autumn we will start the preparation of new programs.

New programs? Why? You are not allowed to compete, your participation in the Olympics in 2014 is uncertain. I would still like to know the firsthand details about what really happened...

- As a matter of fact, I myself don't entirely understand everything that happened. The initiator of the decision about my disqualification was the International Skating Union. That is my guess. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I think so. The formal reason is I did not notify Figure Skating Federation of Russia and the ISU about my shows in Japan and Europe this spring...

Are you referring to the commercial shows, for which you receive fees?

- That's right. These are so-called exhibition shows. Every athlete who is listed in the Figure Skating Federation, needs to receive its permission to participate in commercial shows. Those are the rules, that the federation itself invented few years ago. It also decides about the national team and sends athletes to international competitions. Actually, the scandal erupted from the fact that I did not go to the World Championships in March. On this occasion I spoke with Ottavio Cinquanta and Valentin Piseev, explained them: for an athlete of my class, going to world championships makes sense only if he goes there to win it. If I can not do a quadruple jump because of en injury, then how can I compete there? Without the most complex element, in not the best shape? Why should I disgrace my name? I have a proof, my medical certificate, in which the doctors write that they forbid Plushenko any heavy physical exertion. This refers to many revolution jumps and combinations. In exhibitions, commercial shows I do not need to jump a quadruple jump. That's why I skated in exhibitions just a few days after the World Championships in Japan. Tickets for these shows had been sold months in advance. And then the federation said to me: you have no permission to skate! Well, how could I explain myself to the audience? I've already had a similar situation before. Once in Prague, I was forbidden to go out on the ice. I did not skate in two shows. 14 thousands spectators were expected in each one. But many handed over their tickets, upon learning that Plushenko would not be skating. I'm still on trials with the producers from Czech Republic and Switzerland, who ran these shows. My reputation is ruined! So this time I said that I could not abandon the show, because people bought tickets. Organizers would have levied a huge penalty on me. Yes, there are some rules, but I also had a good reason for missing the World Championships. In the history of figure skating I am the first athlete who is not disqualified for doping, but for violation of rules. Typically, for violation of these rules athletes receive a warning. It has always been like that, but not in my case. I am a strong competitor, but Vancouver Olympic Games showed that many are not content with me. Clearly, the world of figure skating needs new names. That's my point of view, but maybe I'm wrong ...

And what's next? You are banned from participating in competitions for an indefinite time and...

- We could, of course, litigate in Lausanne. I had time and opportunity. But I believe, that despite this conflict, the Federation and the ISU did a lot for me. Just like I made a great contribution to the development of figure skating in the world. I want to continue to skate, and this week we both with my coach Alexei Mishin are writing a formal letter to the ISU and the Figure Skating Federation of Russia to regain my amateur status. Hopefully, I will be reinstated before the next season - the ISU and the federation will meet me half-way. I already have a proposal from the same ISU to skate in a team competition in Japan for the Team Europe. The competition is held in October under the auspices of the ISU and I hope that this will be the first step toward restoring our relationship. I have three Olympic medals, basically I could finish my career, but I still want to fight in Sochi for our country, and for myself. So I will strongly fight and defend my name. Although I'm tired of the scandals already. My dream is to live quietly, to train, to enjoy family happiness. And for my parents not to worry about me. But so far it does not work out.

You are now in limbo. You are not allowed to participate in the next European Championships...

- I was not going to take part in it anyway. Nor in the World Championship, or the Russian Championships. I have had several operations - in May in Germany they placed catheters in my back, cleaned the meniscus, did a course of special injections. Now, first and foremost, I need to recover - I was under a lot of stress after the Olympics, and in general this season turned out to be difficult. Therefore it is necessary to recover. But every day the coach, who's responsible for my general physical preparation - Vitaly Balykin and me run for over three kilometers, jump, swim for relaxation. After the pool - sauna with brooms, massages. We are not going to stop working. There's only one "but": since now, after the disqualification, I am not a member of Team Russia, I think I will have to pay for the rink in the coming season myself. Honestly, I do not know exactly how much it will cost. But I think a lot.

If it's not a secret, what is your salary?

- It is a secret. But in comparison to football or tennis players - very small. (According to experts: about 20 thousand dollars for a show) But I'm happy and not complaining about my fate.

Evgeni, do you have any other sources of income, apart from figure skating?

- No. I want to skate until 2014 and then decide... There are proposals to train foreign athletes in America, in Europe. The biggest interest is shown by the Japanese. People say to me: Come, here's a free ice, train the youngsters, skate yourself. They offered me a few athletes, 17-18 year olds. I thought to myself: Well, sure, I'll start to teach them, and then they will go and defeat me in Sochi. So I refused. I think I will take up coaching after the 2014 Olympics. The desire is there. After all, I know a lot about figure skating. Of course, not as much as my coach, Professor Mishin, but he did teach me something, didn't he. Then, we have a lot of business plans together with my wife Yana Rudkovskaya. But I won't talk about them now. They are in development.
If it were not for Yana, by the way, I would have never returned to the sport after a break. Yes, I was constantly skating and I practiced from time to time, but I did not do the complex elements. I couldn't do them! Then Yana suggested that even at 27 it is possible to take top places on the podium in men's figure skating. For a long time I did not believe in myself. It was hard, I often messed up the elements. But she went with me on the ice, went to all the competitions. Sometimes, returning from another training, I fell on the couch saying: "That's it, I can't do this anymore!" But Yana demanded: "No, Zhenya, go running, work!" It took me a long time to lose weight. I had to lose ten kilograms. Now I weigh 70. All in all, I regained my normal physical condition in 7-8 months.
Yana also helped me with the sponsorship, advertising business. She got me a lucrative contract (with Oriflame), and I was able to pay my coach, Alexei Nikolaevich Mishin.

Alexei Mishin in an interview a couple of years ago admitted, that his official coaching salary is 14,000 rubles. Is that so?

- Probably, I don't know exactly. The official salary is low. With the money, that I received thanks to Yana, we also paid for my costumes for the Olympics.

Figure Skating Federation of Russia is not paying for you costumes?

- I know that they paid some costs of many athletes, but not all. They paid some of my costs too - the flights, partly the stays. But not all. They probably think, that since I earn money I can pay myself. Many were irritated that I returned to the sport with such a triumph and began to win again... Eleven years ago, I trained with many boys, skaters in St. Petersburg, then our paths split. And in autumn 2009, at the Moscow stage of Grand Prix, few months before the Olympics, we met after a long break. The approach me, I'm warming up before the short program, I'm nervous. I saw them, I think: ok they will cheer me up. And they so mockingly drawl through clenched teeth: "Well, are you ready? we'll seeeee..." It wound me up so much! I said to myself: "Yes, I will rout everybody..." And I won. There's so much envy around me, but still there's even more love. And most importantly, people who are with me, believe in me - my parents, my wife ...

Zhenya, we know that your first wife, Maria Ermak, after the Olympics in 2006 demanded that you give up sport ...

- I do not even want to think about that life. It does not exist to me. I have a new family now, let's talk about my wife, Yana, about our future children. I think we'll have little babies soon. We want it very much. When I will go to the competitions, we will take them along with us, so they sit with Yana in the audience, watch me skate, support me. This is my dream. We are now finishing building a big house by the lake near St. Petersburg. This land I got from the governor of Leningrad region Valery Serdyukov 10 years ago. A huge thanks to him for that. I won my first world championship at that time. For a long time this area was empty. And now it is mostly built-up. I want to breed a lot of dogs - an entire kennel, I may also build a stable, playgrounds for my nieces - my sister's three daughters - for our future kids with Yana, for Egor, my sonny.

How often do you spend time with Egor?

- When I'm in St. Petersburg, I'm with him at least once a week.

After all, you had problems before. Egor's mother, your first wife, did not let you see your son for months ...

- Now we are fine.

The situation with Yana's children also seems to normalize. It is known that her former husband Viktor Baturin prevented her from seeing her sons for a long time.

- I do not want to meddle in this story. The boys have a dad. Bad or good, it's not for me to decide. But, in my opinion, both parents must participate in the upbringing of their children in equal proportions, even if they are divorced. Otherwise the child's psyche is damaged.

You've been married for a year, and all this time you live on the move...

- We live on the move, but together. I had tours in Europe, Asia, and Yana went with me. Now she is in Moscow for three days. I think for three days we can survive without each other. I have training. she has her own affairs. We never separate for more than 10 days, well, two weeks - this is a maximum. Of course we miss each, but what can you do? She is busy, besides she has two children. They too need her devotion, Yana recently went with her sons to Sochi for vacation. And I am very glad they did.

Are you familiar with Yana's sons?

- No. But if there is such possibility, then, of course, I will happily get acquainted with the children of my beloved woman. We can ride a motorcycle, play football, shoot. I love the active, sporty lifestyle.

Zhenya, your destined encounter with Yana took place in London. Was it a love at first sight?

- Exactly. It happened in Trafalgar Square. There were a lot of people around us, there was a concert, Dima was performing. I remember as we walked through the crowd, I took Yana's hand, they were not letting us through. Then I started to elbow through everybody. At that moment, holding her little hand in mine, I felt she was my woman. As if I had known her already for 20 years. Although I got to this concert completely by accident. It was January 2007 and I got a call from an acquaintance while I was in London as an ambassador for Sochi Olympics. He asked: "Do you want to go to Dima Bilan concert? He's playing in the Downtown" - "Yes, but how do I get there?" - "I'll give you the phone number of his producer." That's how I got Yana's number. My manager Ari Zakarian called her and they arranged to meet. We came to Trafalgar Square. To Dima's dressing room tent. I did not went to the tent, decided to stay on the street, but Ari said: "Go, call Yana, at least we introduce ourselves". Dima was sitting in the dressing room, and Yana came out. Our eyes met and in this very moment cupid's arrow pierced our hearts. (Laughs.) Not that it's surprising - Yana is stunning, and I'm not bad either. As they say, "you're attractive, I'm damn attractive, why waste time"... And off it went: travels, flights, calls, text messages. It felt like someone had breathed new life into me: I cheered up and began aspiring to something again. Being in love is a wonderful feeling!

You hid your relationship from the world for some time...

- A very long time. Because Yana was in the process of divorce. By the time we met, she no longer lived with her husband Viktor Baturin, but officially they had not divorced yet, and it would've been wrong to show our feelings in public... So we hid it from everyone. Especially from the press. And indeed it worked, no one had any idea... And then, in April 2008, the divorce finalized. So there was no reason for hiding anymore. To that point, many times I had a desire to show everybody who I am for Yana. There were times when I stood next to her, for example in a restaurant, and some young charmers approached her and flirted with her. I wanted to punch them, but I couldn't - because on what grounds? I couldn't wait for us to become an official couple, so that everyone understood - she is my girl! Try now, I dare you!

You are so jealous?

- Yes, I can be jealous, fiery, plus I'm an athlete. Eager to fight... But Yana has found a key. For this whole year of our marriage, we hadn't had a single fight. Naturally, like all normal families, we have our stories, but we never wanted to leave home, to escape, to slam the door behind us. We are very agreeable. It is hard to believe, but Yana at home, when we are alone, is not a businesswoman, she is completely different person. Very tender, graceful, fragile, like a little girl, and funny... In public she may be harsh, stern, but with me - she's soft, my beautiful kitten-kotofeevna, as I call her.

Some men, having the negative experience of their first marriage, are in no hurry to marry, and you on the contrary...

- It was a conscious decision. I proposed to Yana on her birthday - Jan. 2, 2009. With all the guests there. She agreed right away.
If I compare the two of my marriages, there is a huge difference. Yana - MY woman. She's my friend, lover and wife. I know I can rely on her and I hope that it will stay like that for the rest of my life. I will do everything I can to keep it that way. I appreciate Yana. Many women in her place would have said: "Zhenya, what sport? Enough. Do something else. Let's open a business, invest somewhere and live comfortably, gathering goods..." But no. Yana kept repeating the same thing: "You make people happy, you enjoy it yourself. Evgeni, skate as long as possible."

Weren't you upset that some people thought your marriage was a PR move?

- We do not pretend anything. We don't need PR. Nor the scandals: we're tired of them! We want one thing: to be left alone.

And what does your tender wife prepare for you, when you are alone? Or do you rather go to restaurants?

- Usually we go to the restaurants. Generally, I'm not picky when it comes to food, I can have anything. Although, I do quietly eschew meat in recent years, and turn to fish and rice. When Yana came to me to Peter, our day usually went like this: In the morning, before my training, my mom prepared for us a fresh pineapple or apple juice, we love them, especially Yana. Without eating breakfast, we went to the "Jubilee". I was training, while Yana was working on her computer, answering phone calls and watching me at the same time. After that, we had dinner in town and then back to an evening training, we ate supper at some restaurant and returned home - we lived in a suburban house together with my parents. Sometimes we stayed overnight at a hotel in St. Petersburg, so as not to waste time on the road. But do not think it was because of my parents - they have an excellent relationship with Yana.
On September 12 it'll be our one year anniversary. On this day we will be in Japan. We won't be celebrating it with fireworks, because I have to go out on the ice the next day. But we'll go to a restaurant, eat sushi, sashimi or oysters - with great pleasure.
Incidentally, two weeks ago I made a tattoo on my left hand, "Yana" - in Japanese characters. And on the right hand a cross, I am an Orthodox Catholic, and a writing in Latin - "Viam supervadet vadens" (something like: "walk and you shall reach"). This is my motto.

It's your response to the disqualification?

- No. It was planned long ago. I have done the tattoos mostly for myself, not for someone else. It was my wish. My road is very difficult, and it looks like my whole life will be like that. Of course, it's hard for me, but next to me are those who love me, believe in me, cherish me. Disqualification was a blow not only for me but for the large army of my fans, friends, who go through it with me. Read, what they write online. I thank them all for such support. I will not break!

translation by