Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back to the Future

A sunny, warm morning in the last week of May in St. Petersburg, Russia, and world famous coach Alexei Mishin is on the ice in the bright Yubileini practice rink with its large windows teaching his young students. Music is playing, and junior skater Artur Gatchinski is working on the choreography for his free program, while 12-year-old Russian silver medalist (senior level!) Elizaveta Tuktamysheva is practicing a triple Axel - and comes close to landing it.

Some other kids are skating around on the ice, jumping and spinning, everything under Mishin's watchful eyes - who calls them over one by one to give instructions and/or to correct mistakes.

At 10:35 AM, a young blond man - taller and older than the other skaters, dressed all in black, takes the ice. His speed and command set him apart immediately. Evgeni Plushenko, reigning Olympic Champion, 2002 Olympic silver medallist, three-time World Champion, and five- time European Champion has started his practice.

"This is the first day of my preparation for the season after my vacation," Plushenko said 90 minutes later in coach Mishin's office. After three years of skating and touring with his own ice show "The Golden Ice of the Stradivarius", serving as a deputy in the city parliament of St. Petersburg, and performing with Russian singer Dima Bilan to win the Grand Prix d'Eurovision song contest, Plushenko is back to a regular two-times a day practice session. David Avdish is working with him on choreography and he is also receiving off-ice training with two former track-and-field athletes.

Full article.

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