10 months after Sochi- Plushenko’s Request

Just as I’m getting into composing my first Plushenko montage for YouTube
(Update: I currently have the first 30 seconds finished of the 4min9sec time I need to fill)…

after the first round of “Snow King” shows have come to an end (I’ve seen some footage, but I’m still waiting to see the whole thing in one video… dare to dream, right?)…

Wounds are reopening from that difficult time this past February.

I’d exhausted this issue almost to death already with my blogging… but unlike “Less than Zero,” this issue is still very fresh in our minds and not yet resolved.

Yesterday, a lot of articles about Plushenko were posted on my Twitter account via one of the people I follow who’s a big fan of his. Most were about the Grand Prix final… despite how I wanted to wait until February 21st to find the results, the results found me.
And I’m very pleased with them. But I’d like to see Yuzuru and Elizaveta skate to victory with my own eyes (and Johnny & Tara’s commentary).
The one on Elizaveta, I could read more than 50% of the text. It was a short article, but it made me feel good that some of my studying of Russian is still relevant and hasn’t yet left my brain.

But there were a few other articles that bothered me. One reason is because the English translation wasn’t 100% clear so some sentences were garbled in the translation.
Another reason was Plushenko’s comment: he regrets trying to compete in the singles’ competition in Sochi, that he didn’t just quit after the team competition.

It’s hard to say what bothered me more: reading him saying that or my reaction to what he said…
because my reaction was very selfish of me.
I said to myself: if you didn’t try to compete and you didn’t injury yourself, I wouldn’t be here

Of course, that’s not entirely true. I began a fan during his free skate for the team competition. And I was extra excited to hear he’d compete again for a solo medal because it’d be yet another chance to see him be amazing.
On February 13th, my heart broke when I saw what bad shape he was in…

I was still thinking about him 5 days later, but I didn’t write my first blog until I had a dream about him.

So I asked myself: would I have gone as far as I have for him if I hadn’t witnessed the injury?
I really want to say no. I want to say that there’s no way I’d have followed his English newsfeed on Twitter, his Twitter account… if I wasn’t so emotional about what happened.

I also couldn’t help thinking about myself at that time… I had very little energy for anything, I didn’t even want to get up in the morning… he gave me something to look forward to… then when the injury happened, I couldn’t wait to get onto my computer and find out what was happening, when his surgery would be and so on…

As I’m recollecting all this, I feel really terrible about it. Because I am making this all about me. Asking myself where I’d be had it not been for his presence in these Sochi Olympics. I have been hard on myself before and one way or another, I always found motivation to stay engaged in my life…

He also said that there wouldn’t be a second back surgery if he hadn’t tried to compete…
that is something I doubt very much. Something was already array during the team competition during his free skate. He felt a “click” in his back and his muscles were sore afterwards. Unless he never skated again with triple axels and quads (something I doubt he could do… because he lives for his skating), the back surgery was unavoidable. The question was just about “when” it would be.

Anyone who’s read any of my entries on Plushenko over this past year, I’m sure would know that I am not selfish about him at all.
Those first couple months, I was worried whenever he talked about competing in the next Olympics. I was thinking he was going too fast to get back on the ice. Every step he took towards getting back into shape terrified me. I wanted nothing more than him to be safe, to be healthy and take as much time as he needed to return to whatever he wants to do with his skating.
He is very handsome and I love his accent when he speaks English… and yeah, I am attracted to him, but I don’t make my feeling about him about that. He’s different from other male celebrities I’d fallen in love with because I don’t daydream about us interacting in a romantic way. Not even in my fanfiction, I always wrote about being an enthused fan that wanted nothing more than his health and happiness. When I watch his skating, when I’m not being emotionally moved by his artistry, I work not to think of him as “eye candy.” I don’t give myself a chance to even look at the tremendous shape he’s in as if I was a woman looking for my ideal mate.

I suppose it is that way because he’s married… happily married… so it’d be wrong to imagine myself in Yana’s place. And it’s also that way because he’s not an actor and I don’t have that option to picture myself with a character he played.
But the biggest reason why it’s different… romantic feelings of any kind (romantic love or lust) would just complicate things in my head. It’s already complicated enough that we’re from different countries 😛

No matter what was going on with me, I always saved a thought for him every night because I grew to care about him a lot. As an athlete and also as a person.

…now, after reading his comments again today, I feel a little different because the focus has shifted somewhat.
He’s now asking his Federation to admit their mistake during the Olympics, that they should have had a back-up skater.

This brings back thoughts I haven’t had since February when I saw his interview with CNN… it feels like forever again. But nonetheless, I remember what he said very clearly because I watched it at least 5 times in those first six months.
My biggest worry was that his country pressured him to compete… and after hearing him talk about it, those thoughts were confirmed. But I also learned that he made the decision to compete because he wanted this for his country and also for himself.
Either way, I was at peace with everything and just wanted him to focus on getting better.

I understand why this has been bothering him. After going through all that pain, I’m sure he’d have wanted it to be for something. But why revisit this? Is it because he’s still facing criticism for his decision to compete and also to withdraw?
I was under the impression that those who doubted him didn’t matter anymore. He knows who his friends and enemies are. And those who don’t support him do not exist for him. (One person in particular, I’ve only written his name down in a comment one time… otherwise, I’ve gone out of my way to not mention him by name. The fact my YouTube page suggests videos of him competing is a constant annoyance because I refuse to do it. If he’s going to do nothing but attack Plushenko, then he’s not worth drawing attention to. Certainly not by name.
Having said that, it’s a relief that Brian Joubert (who, I understand, had criticized him in the past as well) is someone he is now close with (now super close because he’s part of the “Snow King” production as well)…

When I saw his name among the skaters competing in Sochi, even reading it aloud, somehow it sounded familiar to me. But I don’t remember how or why that might be. Perhaps I saw him skate years ago in another competition.

As I’ve said, it’s been 10 months. Why he’s suddenly interested in making these demands of his Federation, I’m not sure. :shrug: But if it’s important to him, of course I will support it. I just hope that it doesn’t cause any political trouble for him or lead them to discredit him or ruin his reputation.

Considering the situation with the other skaters… the story supposedly is that they “couldn’t find” Maxim Kovtun to compete in his place in the solo competition. I also heard a story that he had the flu and wasn’t well enough to compete. The conspiracy remains that they wanted someone with experience and Maxim, despite beating Plushenko in the Russian National championships that season, wasn’t who they needed to win medals.

The issue came up again this past week at the Grand Prix Finale… supposedly, Maxim choked… Sergey Voronov won 3rd place instead… and one tweet balked at this, saying Maxim can’t come through on the big competitions and fools still believe he should have had Plushenko’s place on the Olympic team.
I only have this current season to go by, but Sergey Voronov has impressed me so much. Maxim, I’ve had to watch his programs a second time on YouTube to determine whether I was not engaged because of his lack of finesse or my lack of an attention span.
If Sergey was well enough to compete in Sochi, I’m sure he would have done really well. Given the opportunity, I believe he would have risen to the occasion and at least gotten bronze. Yuzuru is practically a prodigy and Patrick Chan has prestige and experience… heck, if Sergey had a clean program, he could have even gotten 2nd.

As I’m writing this, I got word that Plushenko wants to write a book about his Sochi experience 😛
once the shock wore off (I really hope this won’t change how his Federation feels about him…), now I’m thinking I’d love to read it… even if it’s all in Russian, I’ll work to learn more so I’ll able to translate more of it than I’d be able to do now.

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3 Responses to 10 months after Sochi- Plushenko’s Request

  1. Alena Hu says:

    Dear Jackie,

    I just found your blog, and I want to thank you for it, for all the beautiful things you have expressed about Evgeni. Your words really moved me.

    I hope you don’t mind too much the forwardness from a total stranger, in commenting on your blog like this. I’d like to give my own take on why Evgeni is asking for a statement from the Russian Skating Federation, though of course it is only that of an outsider, a fan from another country.

    Regarding Evgeni’s interviews on Dec. 15, I don’t think he said that he regrets trying to compete in the individual event at Sochi, or that there wouldn’t have been a need for a second surgery if he hadn’t tried. What happened–the screw breaking, at precisely that time–was clearly something that no human power could have anticipated or done anything about. It was also an extremely low-probability event: in earlier interviews, he said that doctors told him that it had happened only 3 times (including this case) in over 50,000.

    I agree that something was already wrong during the team competition LP, though the screw actually, finally breaking into two did probably happen during the warm-up before the individual event SP. (Of course, none of this is provable now, but I think so because I just don’t see how he could have literally survived the jumps he did before that 3A, and the jumps he did in the training session the day before, had it happened earlier.) He would never have even considered giving up the individual competition on the night the team competition ended, had he not felt that there was something seriously wrong at that point already. This was something he had dreamed about single-mindedly for four years, and for which he had made great sacrifices, of which I suspect outsiders can imagine only a small fraction. Especially that last year after his disc replacement.

    Another thing is, before Sochi, there were a lot of rumors around–some of it I believe deliberately spread–that he really only wanted to do the team competition, and that he was going to fake an injury after the team competition and withdraw. I don’t claim to know for certain the full story, which is probably too long and complicated. But I will say that months before the Russian Nationals, the Russian Skating Federation started to try to obtain a revision in the rules to say that if an athlete was injuried during the team competition, then a replacement can be made. At the same time, T. Tarasova and certain Russian Skating Federation officials were openly talking about the possibility that one person can skate the team competition, and another person in the individual competition(without mentioning the “being injured” part. I want to emphasize that as far as I knew, before the Russian Nationals, neither Plushenko nor anyone on his team had *ever* mentioned or suggested such a possibility.

    Right after the Russian Nationals LP, a journalist went up to Evgeni and asked him, point blank, what he will choose, the team or the individual competition (a utterly strange question, has something not been afoot). Evgeni answered the team competition. Instant firestorm resulted. Later that same day, he found out about what really was in the proposed “rule clarification” that the Russian Skating Federation was trying to obtain–namely, that it would require him to be “injured” after the team event. For that very instant, he immediately put the thought of only doing the team competition out of his mind, and in every interview from then to the day when he was officially chosen, he had always maintained unambiguouly the position that it was up to the Skating Federation to choose who will go to Sochi, but if he was chosen, he would do his best to fight in both the team and the individual events. (And of course, the Russian Skating Federation’s stated policy has always been that the Russian Nationals wasn’t to be the only measure of who will be chosen to go to Sochi.)

    I am sorry for this long spiel….But I guess, I want to say that I truly believe that Evgeni is an honest and honorable person. Given all that came before, he would have been facing another firestorm of accusations of faking an injury, had he really withdrew on the night the team competition ended. I believe he knew that, too. Yet when the situation arose, he did not hide anything. Of course, no outsider can know all the details of what happened, or get inside his mind, but I can imagine how much he would have wanted to fight in the individual competition as well. It was an incredible and painful twist of fate that a situation–an “act of god”, almost–forced him to actually consider that “rule clarification” that the Russian Skating Federation had obtained, but for different purposes. Of course, on the night the team competition ended, no one could have known the true problem, or how it would develop in the next few days–it would have been a very difficult decision on Evgeni’s part. But for whatever reasons, that decision was taken out of his hands. And after that–of course he would have tried to carry on with all that he had.

    To me, the main point of what Evgeni said in his interviews (including the ones right at Sochi, such as the CNN one), was that he told the Skating Federation officials about the problem right after the team event ended, and that they told him that no replacement could be found. After the CNN interview, the Skating Federation immediately published a “damage control” statement, however, they never denied these two factual points.

    Why does Evgeni want a public clarification from the Skating Federation? Personally, as merely a fan, I can’t say that I know, but in a way I think I can understand it. If it was what happened, then why hide the facts? Especially after all that he had faced after the withdrawal at Sochi? (Which I suspect fans outside of Russia only has a very indirect idea of.) He says that he knows who are his friends and who are his enemies, but I think it was not only enemies who attacked or criticized him. Perhaps more were people who did not know the facts, who were accustomed to demand, and who were unable to stop a moment to reflect before venting their own feelings. From what I’ve read about Evgeni, I sometimes get the sense that it would be difficult from him to stand being falsely accused, especially on a matter of character like this.

    My sincere apologies for such a long and forward comment. Sometimes I can’t seem to stop talking whenever I find another fan of Evgeni’s. These are of course my own thoughts, and I’m not Russian, there are probably a lot of things I missed even in the interviews I’ve tried to read via google translate. And of course I can’t claim to have anything near the complete knowledge of even the published facts…

    • Jackie says:

      I don’t mind that your comment ran long, especially given your reasons for them 😀 since last February, I was written over 20 entries about him (some running very long). It’s gotten to the point where I’ve started keeping a journal/scrapbook where I write about him for any reason other than important milestones and events… such as his first tournament/win since Sochi that I just wrote the other night.

      I wasn’t aware of anything regarding this “rule clarification”… if it’s true, it makes things a little more complicated than I’d like them to be 😛 and they are already very complicated. No matter the case, I have made peace with everything that’s happened during and since Sochi that there’s no use getting worked up about it now. Except in the event that it is something weighing heavily on his conscience and makes him unhappy, then my reaction would be to stay informed and support him no matter what happens.
      I’m glad to hear you enjoy my writing about him. I’ve gotten a lot of traffic on my site since I started writing about him and I always hope people are reading what I wrote and enjoy it.

      Your adoration for him really comes out in your writing and I absolutely feel the same. Not just a skilled athlete (I probably will never come to love any other male skater more than him), but one of the bravest and strongest people I know. So much to admire about him and the list keeps growing.

      I’ll post an entry next month revisiting the past year. After that, I think I can move on from the Sochi conversation 😛 I’d hate for his fans to get sick of it being dredged up, and I also don’t want to associate him with a single tragic event forever when there’s so much more to celebrate.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjKQUPCmaX0 Not sure if you’ve seen my YouTube montage yet, but it’s a summation of those feelings. If I ever revisit that process, I hope to put something more upbeat and happier.

  2. Alena Hu says:

    Thank you for replying to my long comment! I am glad that you don’t think I’m some nutcase…Yes, I suspect there were some complicated situations; perhaps that is why he felt the need to speak out in his upcoming book. He put himself through such unimaginable tortures and overcame such tremendous odds to get to Sochi. To make it, and to perform in the team competition as he did, with all his injuries, the artificial disc and four screws in his spine, having had the disc replacement surgery only a year ago, was widely thought impossible, and it is an unprecedented achievement–as Mishin said, “expanding the realms of human possibilities”.

    And thank you for the link to your “Precious” montage! It really brought out a lot of emotions. It’s a perfect choice of song, really, and I loved the way you made it, especially beginning with the Sochi footage. I really look forward to seeing more montages from you!

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