Amazing On Ice- Plushenko’s 1st post-surgery exhibition

Time flies… but that’s what happens when you keep busy not worrying about one thing in particular.

Evgeni Plushenko had a recent surgery on March 14th of this year.
Although he had been to Kazakhstan (which I did not know before was where Yana was originally from) to do three days of Snow King shows, I have been looking forward to the next time I’d see him skate in exhibition.
Of course, I always hope to see him compete… part of me will always want that because I had missed so much of his career.
But deep down, I feel it’s best if he doesn’t return for a while. And I think even he is starting to realize that.

The first exhibition after surgery is always something special- I’m sure that’s the way he feels. He loves to skate for his audience, his fans.
Even as I type, I can hear his voice in my head saying these things. 😛
There was one exhibition that was shared shortly after his withdrawal from Sochi- and it was in 2005 after, I believe, he had groin surgery. He skated on crutches and magically healed before our eyes.

I remember for the previous surgery when he performed “Storm” at Sendai, Japan for their “Together on Ice” show. I believe this was something he was invited to participate in by Yuzuru Hanyu, whom he had championed even before he left his mark at the Sochi Olympics.
That performance will always be special to me. All from the moment the light shined on his face and I could feel his eyes penetrate through the camera into my line of sight. That charisma captures me every time.
Of course, it wasn’t perfect, but that’s to be expected.

Somehow, though, it was a little bit harder to witness in this new show. [Amazing on Ice- 7.15.16 in Beijing]
I’ll revisit his “Carmina Burana” performance and give my comments afterward.

…There are many emotions to go through with this performance.

“Carmina Burana” is very powerful music. And I’d seen Plushenko perform to it a number of times last year. Each time, I would be astonished, be taken in by his commanding presence. And I would say to myself each time “he looks really strong” or “he’s getting stronger.”

He had three jumps in this program and two of them did not go well. The opening toe loop and ending axle. The middle toe loop was more secure.
In his “Storm” program in 2014, his jumps were solid. Better than can be expected for someone who hadn’t jumped on figure skates in 3-4 months. He had one pass where he attempted to do a combination and stumbled out of it- only because he misjudged where the ice rink ended. That was understandable.

Everything, of course, is still work in a progress. I know that. But I am thinking that this music does not suit him at this current time. Inside, I think I was panicking the way I would be if he had skated at Sochi’s individual event. As much as I wanted him to perform, deep down, I was afraid of what would happen if he did.

The strange thing is the camera angles changed how I felt about the performance. When I could see him clearer and his expressions better, I felt more connected to the performance and I thought maybe it would be okay in the end.
Watching it again, I think I was dreading seeing the mistakes again. He is so good at skating that he doesn’t fall on his jumps unless something is wrong with him physically.
And my other thoughts watching it the other night: I wonder if Edvin Marton was scheduled to be part of this performance (because he was also performing another number later in the show) or Plushenko had asked him to be with him while he skates this particular program. Edvin had never played “Carmina Burana” with him before- so I thought maybe he asked him to be there so he could draw strength from him so he could skate better.

Or simply put- he was still warming up and he just needs to regain that muscle memory with landing the jumps cleanly.

On another note- I don’t know if I’m the only one thinking about this, but after being so invested in figure skating these past two seasons… it does bother me a little bit that he’s only performing toe loops and axles in his shows. I’m so used to seeing a variety. And I worry a bit that maybe he can’t do loops, lutzes, flips and salchows like he used to do. I know salchow is his weakest jump. He’d do them in competition and they don’t always come off well.
I can understand if those are his two strongest jumps- but I do wonder if he is okay with settling or he secretly wants to add other types of jumps in his exhibitions.

Then of course there was the number I looked forward to most: he was bringing back “Tango Amore”- only this time, there were a couple of differences. [It’s so good, I have to share the link]

Of course I was excited that he was bringing this program back. One of his iconic numbers. The last time he had done, I think, was 2012. And in that, I think I saw him do a one-armed Biellmann spin. Spectacular.

One difference I found about on Twitter: he’d be doing it alongside Boyang Jin, who skated to this music for his short program last season. He’s China’s new top skater- first man to win a medal at Worlds.
Another difference: his costume. He was wearing his Tango Roxanne costume that he wore to 2012 Europeans. His last appearance in that competition… at least the entire competition. He was there in 2013, but withdrew after the short program due to injury. The same injury he had surgery for and would need to be fixed in 2014.

Yet somehow, all these differences worked. I liked seeing both skaters do their different styles. I prefer Plushenko of course. This song has a sexiness about it and he has that factor about him. Boyang Jin is young- I don’t know if he’s even 18 yet. He doesn’t have that charisma yet to make this music work for him.
However, in some of the later moments of this duet, he had some moments where he worked well with the pacing of the music in a way I can respect. And it makes me excited to see how he’ll do next season. Whether his artistry will continue to improve (every time I see him, he gets better) and if he can just be more confident.
This is an experience, I’m sure, he won’t forget and he’ll learn a lot from.

Meanwhile, Plushenko looked a lot stronger here. His jumps were on point- maybe because he decided to hold back after the previous performance. Or the music just worked wonders for him. And having Edvin Marton performing… he sounds so amazing live.
This was just fun to watch.

And while I watched it, I smiled so big. It felt like all this time I had waited for Plushenko to feel better has been worth the patience.
In truth, though, I have been keeping busy doing other things so I am not worrying about him all the time. I can only do that for so long before I depress myself. And I’m sure he wouldn’t want that.

To top everything off, today an interview was posted. A short one, but Plushenko was speaking in English. I almost started crying 😛 It had been SO long since I had heard him speak English. The last time might be close to a year ago when he was helping Beijing get the winter Olympics to come to China in 2022… this isn’t counting the interviews I revisited on February 13th, of course.

What I took away from it, though, was a harsh truth. That “it is not possible” for him to compete this year.
I ask myself why I want so badly sometimes for him to compete and I know the reasons… yet right after injury and surgery, I ground myself and say that it’s better that he doesn’t.
He even said, in his mind, he still wants to compete for 2018 Olympic games. As time passes, I start to doubt even more that he will be strong enough to compete at high enough level for that stage.

At the very least, though, I am so glad he is feeling better and he seems happy with himself.
And I look forward to seeing all the shows where he’s performing. I know he has a lot of them planned in the next couple months.

I won’t write about those- but I thought I would about this one because it is a first for this next stage of his career. The first time is always something special. 😉

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