Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Olympic champion Alexey Yagudin: -“Now I am the Terminator”
Memoirs of a sports star.

Translation of an article printed in Russian language publication on February 28, 2008.

The life of Olympic and four time world champion Alexey Yagugin is full of interesting and sometimes curious events. For example, the winner of the European and World Championships was never a National Champion of Russia. In his autobiography titled “Stopping at Nothing," one of the most talented figure skaters of our time frankly told everything (or almost everything) that happened with him since he started practicing as a figure skater.

How it all started.

I do not remember the very first years of my life when I was not able to stand on skates. Turns, jumps, slides on ice were for me as natural as breathing. Even now I often come to the bridge of Lieutenant Shmidt. My feet bring me here by themselves. Maybe with age I became sentimental. To the left of the bridge, near the water, there was a small church.
In its place a skating rink was built for the great Belousova and Protopopov. Now the church is restored in that place.
The parents were not allowed at the rink. They could watch their children trough a wide gates of the former church. Up until 12 years of age, I was coached by Alexander Mayorov. Earlier he was a single skater. I do not remember when I performed my first jump, but I recall that by 10 years of age I could jump all double jumps, by 12 - I was jumping triples, and by 13 years of age I landed my first triple Axel.

I was a naughty boy and was punished a lot. My parents divorced. On leaving, my father left a collection of stamps. I tried to continue collecting stamps, but I did not become a philatelist. Although I developed a habit of collecting stuff. Seeing that I am performing better than other pupils in my group, my coach started paying more attention to me. In the past, Mayorov was a student of Alexey Mishin, and when he was offered a job in Sweden, he asked Mishin to take me in his junior group.

About Mishin.

At first I did not connect too much with Mishin. He was mostly working with advanced skaters, in particular with Alexey Urmanov, who was supposed to compete in the GoodWill Games in St. Petersburg in September. At the end of August, they left and a few days later I had a phone call from the Federation of Figure Skaters stating that Mishin wanted me in St. Petersburg immediately. I was supposed to replace Alexander Abt. I was really surprised. My sports shape at that time would not allow me to compete for anything even at the children’s level. Mishin knew that, but nevertheless he wanted me there.

I came out on the ice as a nod of nerves and performed the worst program in my life. I was so ashamed that I wanted to disappear into thin air. I was depressed and very angry with Mishin. I considered him to be a cause of my disgrace. I felt like a laughing stock and I knew then that I will never forgive Mishin for that.

After participating in “Skate America,” I won a bronze medal at the Cup of Nations in Germany and silver at the Cup of Russia. The gold medals in all of these places went to Urmanov. Usually the coaches themselves select the competitions for their students. I was trying to understand for a long time why Mishin always sent me to the same competitions as he sent Urmanov. Why would he not give me a chance to come out of the shadow of my older comrade? Finally I understood that Mishin wanted me to lose to Alexey all the time.

The season of 97/98 Urmanov missed because of a trauma and now Mishin put all of his attention on me. Unfortunately it did not last long. He started working with Evgeny Pluschenko, who shortly became his favorite. Mishin liked the character of Pluschenko. Evgeny, in difference to me, never contradicted his coach. As Urmanov, Pluschenko always trusted his coach, never argued with him and never asked additional questions. If Mishin would ask him to jump, he would just ask “how high?”

In the 97/98 season I won the Cup of Finland. Pluschenko was second. That was how our uncompromised competition started and culminated in the 2002 Olympic games. At the World Championship in Milan, I lived in the same hotel room as Pluschenco. In difference to Urmanov, he never talked to me.

The whole podium in Milan was taken by the Russians. I got my first World Gold, Evgeny got silver and Alex Abt got bronze. After that competition I was told that when Mishin was congratulated that his two students got the gold and silver, he was upset that it was me and not Pluschenco who got the gold. I felt that it was time to look for another coach. Our relations did not work out and to continue with him did not make any sense to me. Mishin himself brought up the subject and we decided that I would look for another coach. I thanked him for what he had done for me, promised to pay him his share of winnings for the season, we shook hands and parted our ways. I was upset how cold he was with me, but I felt that it was for the best.

To Be Continued...


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