Last year when I did my post about looking back on the Sochi Olympics, I was doing so on February 13th.
If I hadn’t been on a cruise in the Caribbean for the first two weeks of the month, I would have done what I’m going to do now.
Each day, I’m going to look back on the Sochi Olympics on the notable events that happened with Plushenko that ultimately landed me here… writing about him on this blog 😛 which I’d made quite the habit of since February 2014. My first entry about him was on the 18th, 5 days after his dramatic withdrawal from the individual event due to injury…
Looking back now, I regret that I took his withdrawal as hard as I did because it kept me from writing about the Sochi Olympics until he’d already left. Meanwhile, I would have had recollections of Jeremy Abbott, Yuzuru Hanyu, Misha Ge and so many of the other skaters I came to love at these Olympics. Although Jeremy Abbott, I was already a fan of. It’s just unfortunate he’s often inconsistent, particularly when it really counts internationally.
Since I’m part of a Yuzuru fan group on Facebook, I think I’ll look for his team short program as well. That was the first moment I saw him skate ever.
Looking at the order of skaters for the team event, I had missed Plushenko by 10 minutes. I turned it on or came in the room when it was on, and Jeremy Abbott was being interviewed. He was talking about or asked how it was hard for him to perform, especially after Plushenko did so well.
I wish I remembered this moment more clearly. I don’t know where I thought his name sounded Russian or it was implied/said that he was the hometown favorite… either way, I was wondering about him… thinking out loud- “Is he the same Russian who complained about getting the silver medal at the last Olympics?”
I’d completely forgotten about him. Heck, aside from his stint on Dancing With the Stars, I didn’t even remember Evan Lysachek until that whole controversy retuned to me. But I never forgot the controversy and how he was really vocal about getting silver behind a guy who didn’t have a quad in either of his programs. My comment back then was an annoyed “so what? you don’t need a quad to be a great skater”… something like that.
Now thanks to him, I’m extra judgement on guys who don’t have a quad. Or in the case of Misha Ge, I’m eager for him to add the quad. But reading him tweet about how difficult it’s been for him to add quads and how artistry in the sport is dying because the judges want quads more than good performance.
Thanks to Plushenko, I desperately want to see BOTH aspects when a man skates. You need the quad to get medals. But for me to become a fan, you need to perform. You need to do something special that helps me connect with you on the ice. After that, I will follow you forever.
Because this was taking place IN Russia, of course, I wanted to see Plushenko skate. As I remembered him, he was one of the greatest skaters competing in Vancouver. The American media went CRAZY about Evan Lysachek beating him, as if this was the Miracle on Ice in 1980 all over again. I knew his reputation yet I don’t have any clear memories about him skating.
Never mind what happened in the past, I really wanted to see if he was as good as everyone believed he was.
After his free skate, the rest is history, but I’ll get that in a couple days.
Now for the team event.
I watched a video that showed highlights.
Yan Han, I didn’t remember until his dramatic crash with Yuzuru at Cup of China in 2014. But they showed him doing really well. Better than I’d seen him skate, maybe ever.
Jeremy Abbott, I’d been searching for on YouTube, but all the videos of him at Sochi are interviews before he competed and of his dramatic fall at the individual event. Literally minutes after Plushenko withdrew. I would have loved to see Jeremy’s team SP, just to see just how off his game he was.
Patrick Chan had a step out on his triple axel, but otherwise did a clean job. Plushenko beat him by nearly 2 points.
Then of course there was Yuzuru, who skated last of all the guys. Now that was amazing to watch…
In fact, here’s my segyway to look for it and watch it again. The first time I’d seen it since I saw it live 😉
Being part of that Yuzuru Facebook group paid off- someone found the clip for me. Dailymotion usually is not the most reliable site, but it actually maintained the picture through all the ads popping up around the screen.
Yuzuru made it look so easy 😀 it’s so hard to believe that he’s gotten even better than that.
And he said how Plushenko has amazing confidence and that’s something he lacks personally… he had so much confidence there 😀 he was like a mini rock star, playing to the music- Parisian Walkways. It sounds like the same artist behind “The Prophet,” a musical piece I loved during the junior grand prix this year.
Had to watch it twice 😛 and of course the second time, the ads were slowing it down in a couple parts.
Just thinking- wow, he’s only 18? at this time. His age was another thing that blew me away about him. I’ve never seen anyone this good this young.
Now for Plushenko… I have two videos ready to go. One is the warm-up for the team event 😛
the second is the event itself. Both were recorded by an audience member (who’d posted many videos of seeing Plushenko perform). I’d been waiting all day and night for this… Can’t really do it when my family’s out and about.
just seeing the warm-up, it felt like a lifetime ago. And it’s only been 2 years.
Seeing him do the jumps in the warm-up, I was nervous just because I remembered what happened a week later. He did the 6 minute warm-up in this costume and the injury happened. I can’t imagine how he was feeling. If he was nervous or excited or what. The announcer said how he was an Olympian champion, had two Olympic silver medals and 3-time world champion. Most impressive resume on the ice without question.
I remember seeing this before… because I remember him coming out of the locker room and someone from Ukraine was skating to “Tosca Fantasy”… I wonder how he felt about that, whether it was weird with the music playing and him not on the ice. Or he was too focused on himself and what he has to do that he didn’t pay attention at all.
Then when he got on the ice waiting for the scores to be announced so he can perform… I remembered how he said in an interview that he remembered the screaming and how loud it was when he went to skate and he had to block it out so he could perform well.
I’m almost shaking right now with anticipation for this 😀
It’s lucky that fan from Plushenko’s home country uploaded the video… the video that was Plushenko’s official website is gone 😦 it was there last year, but now it says it’s not available. I don’t trust Dailymotion to have it and have the footage not be shaken up by the ads. All the other footage coming up on Google is of him withdrawing and retiring.
I said to myself I’d watch this video twice. Namely because I want to fully take it in. And also because it’s a really special program. He skated so well. The landing on the triple axel was a little tricky, he had to hold onto it so he didn’t slip off the edge, but yeah… he’s so strong in this and he’s so great engaging the crowd to cheer for him. Whether it’s his home crowd or not, feeling free to do that and having people respond is powerful.
It’s also special because I’ve only seen it a couple of times. So each time, it almost feels like it’s brand new. I felt the anticipation the moment it started. He was all business, nailing the jumps. Then once that was done, he was free to play around with the ice and just perform- what he does best.
So great afterwards seeing how happy he was that he did well, but also that he was grateful.
As much as I want to watch more of him, it’s already getting late tonight 😛
And it also feels a little weird, thinking of watching him skate more after that. It feels like my mind is in Sochi 2014… so it only feels right that I only stay with the footage of him on the days it happened.
Which means I’ll have to wait until Tuesday to watch his free skate. The very first time I saw him perform. And it was a moment, like so many I’ve had with him, that I won’t forget.
I watched “Moulin Rouge” anticipating this. And my mind was on this (and his Euros free skate) during the Tango Roxanne scene. But going back to here, it was all about him 😉 the way it should be.
I don’t remember exactly what my mindset was leading up to this… or what my reaction was to all the skaters.
I remember looking for Jason Brown to be as impressive as he was at the National championships… and it was the first time a lot of people were seeing him since his performance went viral. He did well under pressure, although not nearly as impressive (in this or the individual event) as before.
I remember liking Kevin Reynolds throughout Sochi. I think my mom called him “Peter Pan” because he was a red head.
Looking at the skating order and the scores… I had no idea Plushenko won by such a small margin over Kevin Reynolds. Technically, he was in 3rd place- but likely because he only had one quad and it wasn’t in combination. But his presentation mark was 4 points higher than Tatsuki Machida from Japan (who I have ZERO memory of seeing at Sochi… Yuzuru may have had something to do with that 😉 ).
I remember the British commentators saying how he saw how the others skated and “he knows what is needed.”
Not surprisingly, interpretation was his strongest mark- the closest person was behind by 70 hundredths of a point.
That was the x-factor, the reason why I fell so in love with him during this performance.
If my memory serves me, I was impressed with his jumps, but I didn’t make that *connection* with him until the 2 minute mark. That moment where something clicked inside of me and after that, I was a fan for life.
These past couple days, other than updates on social media, I hadn’t seen him since the 6th… or even thought about him. That way, I’ll see his performance as if it’s the first time. And I’ll be moved by the merits of the performance instead of simply being a fan that’s watching this particular performance for maybe the 6th time… maybe 7 or 8. Hadn’t really seen it (other than in my “Precious” montage) since this time last year.
So excited to go back 😀
Looked like he did a triple axel in warm-up… it made me shudder for a second.
It was one jump too many that broke the screw in his back.
It’s crazy to think that he made the triple axel look so easy. Yet that was his final jump before having his 2nd back surgery. And it took the longest time to get back. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him attempt a quad, so I don’t know where he is with that. It probably has been a while because he was advised against it after the latest moment he was told not to compete due to injury in another disk in his back.
Okay, here we go…
it’s only been 3 days, but it feels like I’ve been waiting forever for this…
I have the free skate on my computer, but when I started watching it, the picture was blurry. I’m not sure if it’s my computer or the fact I converted it from one format to another (so my “Precious” montage would run smoothly)… either way, there was no way I was going to celebrate this event that way.
I found the original video on YouTube and watched it there.
His landing on the first few jumps- flawless. It’s hard not to take notice of that.
It felt like he was concentrating on getting them down and didn’t show as much emotion. Or it just wasn’t right for that moment.
Then the “Tango Amore” section came in and it felt like gravity… it really took hold of me when “Tosca Fantasy” began… as if he had his own gravitational pull and I fell from the heavens… or rose to the heavens to join him. I don’t know, but it was a really special moment.
However long that part of the program was, it felt like an eternity and I didn’t want it to end…
Then when “Adagio” started, my fist was clenched, I was holding my breath and… just wow…
Then I watched it again- but from a different angle. The same person on YouTube who recorded his warm-ups (and his short program from a couple days earlier) had this. The same electricity wasn’t all there, but still… I had to see this one more time tonight.
I’d watch it again, but I have to get up early tomorrow.
It was definitely worth the wait for this.
There was a video posted today- all the Russian athletes reflecting on Sochi, winning the team event.
At this point, I didn’t really care if I understood Plushenko or not.
I am still captivated.
And of course I was a little worried that they might show footage of his injury and withdrawal again.
When they had footage of him in his “Tango Roxanne” costume, I watched for other skaters in case they went there.
But this was a celebration of all everyone accomplished.
Now that I’ve done this… it’s another few days before the milestone I’ve been leading up to.
As excited as I was about him leading up to this free skate and how I instantly became a fan, February 13th was the day that bound him in my heart forever.
And as I remember, it was a day where I wasn’t sure if he’d be there at all.
There was whispering about whether or not he would be here or another Russian skater would be in his place.
Maybe because his commitment was to the team event more than individual medals…
Then I saw he was in the line-up and of course I couldn’t wait to see him once more…
that’s when it happened.
While I was waiting for software to update (and I’d restart my computer afterwards), I watched Yuzuru’s short program for maybe the first time since seeing it live.
They did show some figure skating footage again on NBC sports- where I saw Plushenko’s team event performances a couple times. First time I saw his short program and also his free skate, which I saw a bunch of times.
It was cool that Yuzuru’s performance had no commentary at all on YouTube. It was just him and the music and the audience and the announcers. That’s the way it should be… although I don’t mind certain commentaries. Just as long as they’re not super negative about my favorite skaters (looking at you, Dick Button! he never gave Plushenko the credit he deserved… although with the rest of the world loving him, there had to be one negative presence, I guess… I certainly was for a short time after Vancouver).
Yuzuru looked like a rock star out there. He was so confident and he did all these tough skills like it was nothing at all. Like he didn’t even have to try. The ease he had about his skating made me a fan easily.
Then there was the fact he was cute, he was Japanese and he had a Japanese name I pronounced easily 😛 Like a character from some of the animé series I grew to love watching in college.
Beforehand, though, I found a video from the official Olympic channel where they summed up the men’s event.
First they dispensed with the drama with Plushenko’s withdrawal. And followed up immediately with Jeremy Abbott’s fall. They edited it down for the confines of the video- but I remember it was a long time before he got up and the crowd cheered for him to get up. Very supportive of him.
I looked through the audience and there weren’t nearly as many empty seats as they led up to believe. There was this big controversy about the fact that a lot of the crowd left when Plushenko withdrew and how it was disrespectful to the other skaters. I read tweets from Evan Lysachek defending him when people were reacting to the lack of crowd support.
For once, it’s nice to see someone who doesn’t tweet a whole lot. I didn’t have to scroll much to find Evan’s tweets about Sochi.
Talking about Plushenko looking technically sound at practice. Really supporting him for his free skate “So impressed with @EvgeniPlushenko !!! Incredible longevity.. Yet another successful comeback. Congrats Team Russia on the first team Gold!”
Then the day before, he tweeted about him having a rough practice:
“Plushenko having rough practice. 4T looks 👍 3axel giving him trouble. Have never seen him fall so much. Worried bout his back. Careful Plush”
Somehow the quad looked amazing, but the triple axel gave him trouble. That proved evident at warm-up for sure.
I think it had to do with the take-off of the jump and I’m sure any skater would back me up on this.
With the triple axel, you launch yourself into the air by moving your right leg forward, you spin three and a half times and land backwards. Whereas the quadruple toe loop, there’s more momentum and spinning before you go into the air. It’s also supported by the toe pick.
This was him earlier that day, retweeting about an interview where he was saying not to count Plushenko out.
I remember reading it and balking at his “weakness” being the components score. Everyone can do the jumps (or at least they should), but nobody can perform like Plushenko can.
Other tweets, saying only 4 clean programs in the entire competition.
Another: he said the stadium was less than half full by the last group… one other person was replying to him and saying how it was rude of Russia to leave the stadium and how they missed a lot.
So I guess he wasn’t supporting Plushenko in that instance… he just remarked about empty seats and it being strange, but at least he chose not to attack him on Twitter. That shows class.
What I’m probably going to do- I’m going to watch all the interviews first. Then I’ll play my YouTube montage on the TV. First time I’m seeing it on Chrome- and first time I’m seeing it in several months.
The last time might have been last April 12th- my last day watching figure skating before going on break for the summer.
First I’ll watch the retrospective of Plushenko’s career- where he’s speaking in Russian and English is translated on top of him.
Then the CNN interview- which I’m happy to say is still here
I’ll never forget the first time I heard him speak, remarking on his supporters and such. And of course “I am normal people like you. I am not robot”… somehow that just stuck with me. And that clip is still on YouTube.
After that, I’ll watch his interview with Today show- where he thanked Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysachek (that was surprising to me in a good way- especially when at that point I was partially annoyed that he won without a quad despite all the years later of me being on his side on this whole debate.)
His official YouTube channel has some interviews, so I’m watching some of them again.
After his short program, he seems very calm and happy about the result. Sounds like he’s speaking fondly of his home crowd supporting him.
Saw one interview with Inside Edge previewing the men’s individual event. So funny to hear Michelle Kwan talk about Plushenko asking her over and showing her the scar on his back- saying there’s a rumor he didn’t have the surgery and debunked it.
But it felt like gravity almost took me down when I realized that none of this would happen. He wouldn’t go out and skate and have fun with it. It was one of the toughest moments in his life.
Also funny to hear the comparison between Yuzuru and Patrick Chan. How Patrick’s quads seem heavy and Yuzuru does them so easily. That’s definitely true 😉 Patrick has powerful quads, but he’s not the greatest performer. He doesn’t grab me when he performs.
There’s one video of him before he gets on the ice for that infamous 6-minute warm-up. He looked fine at that point. He looks like he’s just psyching himself up for it like an athlete would before a major competition.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the footage of him skating, injuring himself and withdrawing was removed from the playlist and website… it might be for the best. Each time I watch any version of it, it’s hard to watch.
The idea of going back to that still makes my body tense up and my heart race.
After that, an interview on a French TV network. I’ve seen that spokesperson many times before- he’s a great guy and Plushenko likes him a lot. But it was hard to him over the translation. At the same time, they were showing footage, so I’ll have to watch it again where I’m not distracted by the interview.
He said that his health is important. His first triple axel, he stepped out and the second was horrible and he said he couldn’t feel his left leg. And he said almost joking to himself “Evgeni, you should stop and be healthy”
and after that, says he has a bright future, he’ll tour for 10 years and Brian Joubert will be part of the tour. (I guess he brought him up because Joubert is from France). Said he tried his best for them, his audience and will spend time with his family.
Seeing his legacy video, despite it having to be translated, I felt his words through the translator. They carried a lot of meaning and he was very well-spoken.
I remembered how much I cried whenever I revisited this. Maybe I will be an emotional mess when I go back to my montage. It was really hard for me to watch and I couldn’t imagine how bad it was for him. Being disappointed, but I was also concerned about how much pain he was in. As excited as I was to see him compete again and disappointed he couldn’t and had to withdraw… my heart was with him. After a couple days where he was weighing heavily on my mind, I wanted to see how he was doing. That’s when I started following him on Facebook, his English News tag on Twitter… a couple days after that, someone recommended I follow him and Yana despite the fact they tweet in Russian most of the time.
Now I can say that they do plenty of English on Twitter as well. But I am also learning Russian and am better able to understand what they say. Just the other day, I could understand nearly all of the words in a birthday tweet he sent to Irina Slutskaya. I’ve made a lot of progress, but I have a long way to go. There’s still much to learn 😉
I kept thinking a month earlier that I really mourn the fact that I missed out on Plushenko’s career. I can tell myself that I probably wouldn’t have liked him if I got to know him before Sochi. As I’ve said, I was angry with him about his reaction to the silver medal because it took away from our victory.
But with time (and with my own life taking the twists and turns it was… not many of them were good) other than Evan Lysachek winning the gold medal, I didn’t remember anything about Vancouver. I just remembered Plushenko as the Russian who didn’t like being in 2nd place behind someone without quads.
My sense of pride for my favorite teams and supporting my country is very strong and powerful, so I am angry when others disagree with me. But I forgot about Plushenko and this controversy entirely. I did not spend those 4 years staying angry with him. I had my own life to worry about.
In early 2014, after new year’s day happened and the year was starting to take shape, I wasn’t very happy with myself. I’d been out of work since September 2010 and nobody would hire me. My shyness getting me fired didn’t exactly help things. 2011 had some bright spots, but it had a lot of disappointments too.
I was very depressed in 2014 before the Olympics. Nothing was going right for me and I was afraid nothing was going to change.
Sochi gave me something to look forward to. I didn’t know what was going to happen and I certainly didn’t expect everything that did.
What I really got out of it was a renewed love for figure skating. I hadn’t watched much since the Vancouver Olympics… I’m not exactly sure why. I was busy working, I guess. Then when I was out of work, it was the last thing on my mind, keeping up with the sport.
I also gained admiration for so many skaters from many different countries. I used to support Team USA and didn’t really pay attention to anyone else. But with the talk of Plushenko after his short program and Yuzuru’s spectacular debut… that really opened my eyes to just how much other countries had to offer this sport.
Ultimately, I gained a love for so many different skaters where I support them almost more than my own country. Of course I want us to do well, but there’s a lot of doubt in my mind at this time that we can stand up to the skaters from Russia and Japan.
And for me, figure skating grabbed me like no sport (not even women’s gymnastics) ever has. Because it combines skill and performance. And people like Plushenko and Yuzuru, I felt like I was watching a show instead of a competition. Revisting the footage from Vancouver made me realize that I was wrong. Plushenko should have won. And of course now I want all the top skaters to have quads because that is the ultimate test for any male skater. If you don’t even try to incorporate it or aspire towards it, you’ll never be a champion. Not anymore.
So now it’s time for the English interviews. And I’m getting a lump in my throat just thinking about them.
I think I always will… and I never want that to change.
I’ve seen this CNN interview at least 5 times over the past two years. I know everything he’s going to say almost as he’s saying it… but I am so absorbed in this conversation, what he has to say.
His English is really good. That was a pleasant surprise.
The one thing about it- I mean, my folks complain about CNN being very liberal and they skew news in a certain direction. I don’t think Plushenko liked being put on the spot about maybe helping to educate people in Russia about gay rights. This was at a time in particular where half the country still loved him and the other half hated him for withdrawing, for not allowing a younger skater the chance to compete in their first Olympics… if he got involved with any positive gay rights movements, who knows what could happened to him… probably nothing good. He and Johnny Weir are very close friends and it’s a mutual respect for one another. Gay or straight, that’s not even a factor.
Then there was the whole controversy about whether Plushenko’s federation made him compete despite him being injured. Or the muscles in his back feeling sore after the team event.
I was very concerned that that was true. It was bad enough Russia had a lot of people who were angry with him. This threatened to ruin his legacy. or at the very least, it erased all the good he accomplished earlier at Sochi.
I remember 10 months later, he said that Russia still hasn’t explained the situation and he wanted them to tell the truth. That they couldn’t find another skater to take his place when he wasn’t feeling at his best prior to the individual event. Instead, he’s had to take the blame for Russia not having a male skater in the event. Maybe he pushed himself too hard for this :shrug: there were definitely risks that the injury would have happened anyway. But it wasn’t entirely his fault what happened.
Clearly, though, Russia still loves him. Even though he hasn’t competed, he’s been voted the most popular athlete in the country. Because he does a lot of charity for kids. He teaches master classes for the younger people of Russia. And he’s also toured with Kings on Ice and put together his “Snow King” show.
There’s a rumor he’s doing a Nutcracker show next winter… but I hope that he doesn’t retire the Snow King show without taking it to America.
And of course I still love him very much. I still care about him. He still makes me smile. And of course I hope to see him compete again… that Sochi wasn’t the last time I’ll see him in that capacity.
But it’s funny how things work out- that him not winning at Vancouver was a good thing… if he’d won, he might not have compete at Sochi. And I wouldn’t be here discussing him or figure skating. At least not this passionately.
I feel like I’ve been on this journey with him, all these amazing things he’d done and enjoying spending that time watching him, and there are ups and downs.
I just need to remind myself what I believed going into this… at the end, he is the one in charge of his future. As much as I want him to compete, I need to respect whatever decision he makes.
I mean, when I heard him announce that he would, I was happy but I was terrified as well. Even though he took his time recovering from the latest surgery on his back, I’m always going to be nervous for him. Just because I want him so badly to be happy with himself. Because if he’s not happy, what’s the point?
…I just noticed. His interview with the Today show was taped on Valentine’s day.
His withdrawal at Sochi happened the day before around maybe 10am our time… so by then, it would have been too late. I just can’t believe I didn’t find out about it until days later. Someone on Twitter asked if they could find the footage of him where a certain picture was taken. I downloaded it and later converted it to another format so I could use some footage for my montage.
…I feel like this interview goes way too fast. the quickest three minutes I’ve ever spent with him. even faster than whenever I watch old competition footage. I’m so happy that he agreed to talk to us on a morning talk show, if only for a few minutes. Just seeing that he was okay and well enough to do interview, that was a good thing. Probably had a lot of painkillers in his body at the time. I mean, he had broken a screw in his back, something that could have paralyzed him and he wouldn’t have skated again.
That’s why every little milestone he had since then has been amazing to watch. I feel like lucky to in this time where we have YouTube where I can see him whenever I want. Lucky to have Twitter where he’s sharing his life with so many of us. It makes me wish I did better with my Twitter profile.
At least it’s a good way to support my favorite skaters, including him.
I still dream one day he will like one of my tweets or simply type “thank you very much. thank you for supporting me”
[Took me a month to make, posted it more than a year ago, up to 358 views. The support has been so amazing.]
Finally got to watch my montage on the big screen for the first time [using Google Chromecast]
It’s disappointing how blurry some of the clips look 😦 maybe it isn’t just my computer but the quality of the videos I used weren’t good.
I’ll probably watch it again later when I have the house to myself (everyone else being asleep) on my laptop with my headphones.
And maybe it doesn’t have quite the same meaning now that all of these milestones have passed. Now that I know Plushenko will be okay.
But at the time… the emotions were so powerful. The withdrawal. Seeing him skate again for the first time since the surgery. And his first exhibition and appearance skating in public for Dreams on Ice.
I’ll never forget all the ups and downs I have with Plushenko 😉 he’s a very special person who continues to impress me every time I see what he’s doing in the world.
I never want the journey to end. But in a couple years, it will. Whenever he starts qualifying for the next Olympics. If he gets that far and stays healthy- but by then, I hope that Russian men will be strong enough to earn the country more than one spot on the Olympic team.
Maybe I’ll watch that video again for him and Miyu Honda in April or May- I think it was May because it was 47 days after his surgery. I remember counting the days 😉
And this post has gone on way too long so I’ll end it here.
Thank you, Evgeni Plushenko, for all the light you’ve brought into my life these past two years.
I look forward to making many more memories with you.