Interview with Alexei Yagudin

Part 3

by Magdalena Osborne

Will you be at the Worlds in Moscow next year?
We’re trying to set up the tour so I’ll have enough days off to go to Junior Worlds and Worlds. I’d like to do a farewell skate in Moscow like I did at Skate Canada, if they’ll let me. I doubt I’ll be able to go to Europeans because the tour schedule is very dense in January.

The ISU made cut backs on prize money for the skaters, how do you feel about that?
I don’t care what the ISU does, I just do my job. These are hard times and money is tight everywhere. But things go up and down and I hope figure skating will grow in popularity again. It’s a pity it’s this way but I can’t do anything about it.

What is your opinion on the Code of Points?
I’m all for it. Whatever you do on the ice is marked and I think it’s a step in the right direction. And I’m not just saying that because the Russian federation is against it! Before there was so much focus on the jumps, do two quads and you’re pretty much set, even for skaters with poor basic skating skills. With the new system the skaters have to be good at so much more than jumps and include harder steps, more difficult spins, maybe harder combinations etc.

Will you have any vacation this summer and see your family?
My mom was on the tour with us in January. It’s better for her to come to the US than for me to go to Russia. But I was planning on going there, I was supposed to spend May in St Petersburg, but plans always change and now Brian is coming... I will go to Russia for a week in July when my cousin’s getting married.

Is there any truth to the rumors that you will skate on a cruise ship this summer?
I wanted to and I asked my agent a few weeks ago but it won’t happen. When I have vacation I don’t skate.

What about your off ice projects like the animated movie?
I will be a cartoon character, my skating and voice will be used. I don’t know when this will start. But the company making the movie has won a prize at the Cannes festival and they’ve been making movies for a long time. I don’t know if this will work but I hope..

And the Russian ice opera “Infinity”?
Yes, that is another project. I get asked to do a lot of things in Russia but then nothing happens. In this opera I will be a flame of fire but I still don’t know much, I haven’t heard any more in a long time. Maybe they are still looking for sponsors, I don’t know.

American Olympic champions get a lot of endorsements. Has anything been offered to you?

Before the Olympics I made a deal with Vespa sport supplement to be their spokesperson. That is still on and we’ve made a commercial. But come on, I’m Russian, no one will give me a deal in America! After the Olympics I wanted something, not for the money but because it was interesting for me and something to do. But no Russian will get deals in America unless they win five Olympics or so. And I’d need an American name like “Nick Taylor” or something and then maybe they’d give me something. But that’s life and I’m fine with it now.

Over two years after you won the Olympics, you are still immensely popular. How do you explain the phenomena Alexei Yagudin?
This is not a question for me but for the people who come to watch me. I don’t force anyone to like my skating or my programs. I’m doing what I have trained for, what I know. When I skate I put my heart and soul in it, I give it my all, 100% in every show and I guess people feel that... But I’m glad they like me!

What do your fans mean to you?
Without them I wouldn’t give interviews, I wouldn’t be touring or doing shows, I would have quit skating! The fans are an active part of my life. Sometimes I see familiar faces at shows and they have banners and scream for me and it’s very supportive. I’m glad I have fan clubs and people who like my skating.

What would you like to say to them?
That they are doing a great job supporting me and that I’m really thankful they are there.

Will you stay in Simsbury and keep working with Tatiana (Tarasova)?
For the next two years, yes, then we’ll see. Tatiana has family in Russia and I understand she wants to be with them but she’s a workaholic. She asked for my help with some things this summer and she’s done so much for me, now I’d like to help her.

You recently bought some homes in Connecticut; will you apply for US citizenship?
The homes were bought as investments. I have a green card and it’s all I need at the moment.

You started skating at age 4 because you were an unhealthy child and your mother was recommended you start in sports to improve your health.
Yes. I was sick a lot, I got colds and I was allergic to different foods and I wore glasses. At that time many parents put their kids in sports to improve their health.

It was also said that you were a very unruly child and your mother didn’t know what to do with you.
(Smiles) I was a very energetic child and it was tough for my mom.

What are you like as a person?
I can’t describe myself, it’s not for me to do, it’s for other people, ask my friends! But I think I’m an easy going person and it’s not that hard to make a contact with me.

What is your best quality?
Isn’t that like the same question again? I like what I’ve done in my life so far, I overcame a lot and won the Olympics even if I wasn’t very happy the year before that. I admire Andre Agassi a lot; he made a strong come back. And Lance Armstrong, he won Tour de France five times! And Scott Hamilton overcame his cancer. I admire people who don’t give up.

If you had to choose a totally different life away from the ice, what would it be?
It’s hard to imagine, but something with cars. As a child I wanted to drive a truck or a taxi. Now I’ve been in figure skating for 20 years and it’s all I know. I would definitely not be an author! Maybe a race car driver...

If you could live your life over, would you do anything differently?
No, I don’t want to change my life. I believe we learn from our mistakes and I’ve made some but have learned from them so even that has been good. But I enjoy my life! It’s not really quiet... I’ve made some mistakes of course, like all others, no one’s perfect.

What will you be doing ten years from now?
Five years from now I‘m hopefully still skating. But in ten years I think I’ll have pretty much quit skating. Coaching is hard too and in figure skating not many great skaters become great coaches. So in ten years I may not even be coaching. We’ll see how life will go.

Go to Part 4

*** Previously published by Europe on Ice

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