Sochi 2014: Evgeni Plushenko’s career and legacy in the words of others
Sochi 2014: Retiring Russian figure skating idol Evgeni Plushenko leaves sport with many admirers though some critics too
Russian superstar Evgeni Plushenko announced his retirement today after pulling out of the men’s figure skating competition following an injury suffered in training.
Plushenko, 31, has been a controversial and enigmatic figure over the years. His brilliance on the ice often clashed with the blunt nature of his words off it.
Below is a series of quotes about Plushenko, the differing sentiments illustrating his impact in the figure skating world.
Long-time coach Alexei Mishin:
“Do not judge him by tonight, judge him by his history. Be kind.”
Plushenko’s former colleague following the divorce from his first wife:
“Let’s be honest here, Zhen’ka (Evgeni) likes women.”
Plushenko’s current wife Yana Rudkovskaya:
“He first asked me out whilst I was still married. The first thing I thought is that he should get a nose job.”
Former chief of the Russian figure skating federation, Valentin Piseyev:
“Plushenko is a true icon of men’s figure skating and an extremely courageous athlete. And when he says that he’s ready to compete I believe we can trust his words without doubt.”
American Evan Lyseck Skater, who won surprise gold over Plushenko in Vancouver 2010:
“I was a little disappointed that my role model would take a hit at me in what is probably one of the most special moments of my life. I’m sure he said stuff in the heat of the moment, stuff that I’m sure he doesn’t mean.”
Japanese figure skating star and Sochi rival Yuzuru Hanyu:
“I envied Plushenko for a long time and admired him and the chance to be able to fight and defeat Plushenko on the same night will be unbelievable.”
Retired American skater Johnny Weir:
“I’m a huge cheerleader for Evgeni Plushenko, he’s been an incredible asset to our sport, he’s really revolutionised the sport throughout his years in competitive skating.”
President of the International Skating Union (ISU) Ottavio Cinquanta:
“Evgeni Plushenko has proved over the years that he is great champion.”
Russian sports commentator Andrei Zhurankov, who was dubious of Plushenko’s back surgery:
“He’s a liar, I have a strong suspicion that there was no surgery at all, taking into consideration the fact that two days ago, Israeli media said that they could not find the hospital where Plushenko was staying.”
Carolina Kostner of Italy, the 2012 world champion skater:
“I admire his courage and consistency so much, especially because I’m sure that coming back from time away from skating isn’t easy.”
Olympic pairs champion Jamie Sale on Plushenko requesting, and gaining exemption, to compete in Sochi:
“Go to your nationals and compete with the best and if you deserve to go, then good, great. But I don’t think it should be based on his popularity, or arrogance, or just because of his name.
“Plushenko is a great winner… I mean a great loser. He’s a poor winner and a poor loser. I am not a fan.”
Robin Wagner, American coach following his return from injury:
“I respected him before, but I respect him even more now.”
“I don’t think people realise how difficult it is to come back at that level. It was already hard enough before the rule changes.”
French skating star Philippe Candeloro:
“Plushenko was strong, really strong – in the mind.”
Czech skater Michal Brezina:
“There are better skaters than him, and they can have choreography that is better than him. But when he’s on the ice and he does every jump would be eye catching, metronomically, then what can you say?
“Nobody can beat him, because if he’s doing two quads, one with the combination with the triple and then two triple axels, he has more points than anybody.”
Four-time world champion Kurt Browning:
“It’s like when you’re going to a Neil Diamond concert, you’re thinking, ‘Really?’ And then as soon as he walks onstage, you go: ‘I’m glad I came. He knows what he’s doing.’
“When somebody steps on his stage, and owns it, you’re glad you’re seeing it — and that’s what Plushenko does. He’s not one of my favourite skaters, because I’m more intricate and I like footwork. So is he in my top 5? Well, no, because that’s not his priority.”
“Do I want to watch him? Yes, I do not go to get a sandwich while Plushenko’s on the ice.”