while a year and 3 months isn’t exactly a long time, that’s the amount of time I spent barring myself from reaching this point
then I read this article and saw GIF’s of his Gold medal free skate in Salt Lake City and I decided to cave…
Figure skating, I feel, belongs in the wintertime- or at least during the current ISU season… but I have broken my personal ban for Johnny Weir and Plushenko’s instagram videos. Johnny, I never really need an excuse to watch. Plushenko, I was curious to see how his quads are looking in practice. Right now, I don’t believe the quad lutz is ready, but you never know.
After reading that article, I read about Alexei Yagudin in Wikipedia as well as some source material articles about his bitter rivalry with Plushenko and his resentment [which I wasn’t totally aware of] towards Alexei Mishin.
It wasn’t just jealousy- after his father left when he was 11, Alexei Yagudin probably felt like he was losing a second father figure.
Supposedly, he finally left Mishin’s coaching when he threatened to leave, expecting Plushenko to get the shaft, but being disappointed.
I heard that an injury prevented him from competing after his triumph at the 2002 Olympics- but to read that he attempted several comebacks, only to be sidelined by a hip injury… that’s gotta suck.
So it would seem I have something in common with Alexei Yagudin as well… Plushenko and I have undergone back surgery (for different reasons, obviously)- Alexei Yagudin and I both have titanium in our bodies. But instead of having rods and screws in his back (as I do), he has a titanium false hip.
I will acknowledge that he had reason to be upset with Plushenko and his former coach, but the attacks on Plushenko still weren’t warranted… and I’m always going to feel that unease about him as a result of this.
For that length of time I mentioned above, I refused to watch Alexei Yagudin’s programs… but now that I’m in my off-season here, it couldn’t hurt to see some of him. The worst that could happen is liking what I see.
And the worst really isn’t bad.
I saw his two Olympic appearances. I maintained my composure, not getting too excited, but there were moments of brilliance. He wasn’t at his best here- particularly in the free skate where he was in the same boat as Elvis Stojko- suffering from the flu. But he was the worst for it.
However, I saw that same fight in him I’d seen with Plushenko when he wasn’t at his best. He fell maybe twice this entire skate and doubled one of his jumps, but otherwise, there wasn’t a lot of indication that he wasn’t feeling well- other than maybe not having the same dynamic to his skating.
As for salt lake city– I think it was love with his short program. It certainly would explain why Plushenko fell during his first jump- he had to follow THIS.
The song was called “Winter” and… wow… there are almost not enough words to describe my feelings on it. I felt the room grow cold [something I’d said during “Tribute to Nijinsky], his jumps were very crisp, and the step sequences… I love Plushenko for his step sequences and his showmanship– these steps from Alexei Yagudin were fantastic– they defy logic. Nobody should be able to move with such ease.
His free skate “Man in the Iron Mask” wasn’t quite as dynamic in my view until the 2nd half where he brought out the choreography with the steps. He upped his game from the previous day.
The entire time, he was very self-assured and composed.
With Plushenko, that’s one of his many highlights- when he’s on the ice, you know he means business. There were times with Alexei Yagudin where I felt he was even more serious and committed to his programs.
The two of them are easily on the same plain as far as perfection is concerned- no skater from any other country will have that x-factor that they do.
My greatest fear with Alexei Yagudin was liking him better than Plushenko- that has not been the case… and likely won’t be. Considering how much longer his career has been, there’s no real comparison.
I shouldn’t say that he’s attacking Plushenko just because he’s bitter that he’s unable to do triple jumps anymore after the hip replacement… but that’s still how I feel about it.
At least now I know what I’m up against and the whole mystery of Alexei Yagudin can be taken off my mind that’s already weighed down with so many other things…