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Alexei Mishin

The skating philosophy of Alexei Nikolaevich Mishin

"It doesn't matter who you were, it only matters whom you become."

Alexei Mishin, one of the best figure skating coaches in the world, is still a work in progress. He began his skating career as a young boy at the end of a rope attached to trucks that would pass by on a frozen street, pulling him and his friends. His had, who also skated, had bought him a pair of skates as a gift. Mishin would later claim he learned inside and outside edges while skating behind the trucks. "We also used to do some kind of waves there that were considered very cool," Mishin told a Russian reporter.

The legendary Alexei Mishin

Mishin learned the value of falling early. Once he fell down while skating behind a truck. The driver stopped, got out, took Mishin's skates and drove away.

Half a century later, he has helped maintain Russia’s dominance in figure skating through studying, competing and coaching.

Mishin's parents encouraged him to skate. However, Mishin was reluctantly accepted as a figure skating student during a winter session in Leningrad and was told that he would have to leave by spring. Almost 50 years later, Mishin has proved to be as good as gold to Russia because many of his skaters frequently claim the gold medals under his tutelage.

Mishin not only studied the mechanics of skating but the Russian history of the sport. He began to learn the teachings of Nikolai Panin-Kolomenkin, the first Russian Olympic Champion in 1908, and absorbed everything he could from his coaches and mentors. Just as he sought to work under the great coaches of the sport, now skaters from all over the world come to Mishin to learn from a master.

Mishin’s story is one of passion for his sport, students and his country. As a 24-year-old he was paired with Tamara Moskvina, then 23 and already a Russian National Champion singles skater. Mishin and Moskvina would win two national championships, earn a silver medal at the World Championships, place fourth in the Olympics and earn a silver and bronze medal at the European Championships.

They left the sport in 1970 at their peak to coach.

Mishin would work his way up by first coaching the junior ladies to success at national and international competitions. But it would be with the men that Mishin would gain his fame and forever be linked with the greatest skaters in the sport.

Evgeni Plushenko, Alexei Yagudin and Alexei Urmanov, all either multiple world champions or Olympic gold medalists, are his prodigies. Mishin doesn't believe in superstitions, but the night of the free skate at the Olympics in Lillehammer, he had a feeling Urmanov would deliver a gold medal performance. But he didn't take a camera with him to capture the glorious moment of his first Olympia gold medalist. "I was afraid to glance ahead," Mishin said. "You can never be sure about a victory. It always catches you off guard."

Evgeni gets some pointers from his coach, Alexei Mishin.

"My secret of success is that I learned much," Mishin would tell a Russian reporter. "I believe that the success from Tamara Moskvina and also from me that we learned much and study a lot. We are both scientists. We did not only skate and began to work as coaches but we studied a lot. We have analyzed and studied. I believe that the scientific approach to the process of coaching is the reason of the success."

It was Plushenko's talent at a young age that fascinated Mishin.

When Plushenko was 11, he showed extraordinary skills by mastering all his triple jumps. Plushenko’s mother brought her son to Mishin in St. Petersburg. She stayed for a short time and after a brief time left Plushenko to stay with Mishin. A year later Plushenko’s mother moved back to St. Petersburg to be with her son.

Mishin paid for their apartment and supported Evgeni with food and money. "He is a very good coach and a very nice person," Plushenko said of Mishin. "Without him, I don’t know, I would be nothing."

Plushenko’s trust in Mishin has been rewarded many times over with his gold medal performances. Mishin has challenged Evgeni to perform his programs with the skill and passion Mishin has lived for the sport. "Evgeni is not afraid of anybody," Mishin has said.

And Mishin, who did his dissertation on skating jumps, sees Plushenko as having the talent to become one of Russia’s best male skaters. "Evgeni can compete for another eight or nine years," Mishin said. "I would like to think Evgeni is not only a World Champion but also an outstanding figure skater. Not all World Champions are going into the figure skating history but he should be one who goes into figure skating history."

The skating philosophy of Alexei Nikolaevich Mishin
"It doesn’t matter who you were, it only matters whom you have become."

The Olympics
"Olympics are very special and can not be compared with anything else. When you are saying – Olympic Games, you can feel it. Do you feel it? Say ‘World Championship, Europeans’… you can’t feel anything like that.’"

Champion skaters
"Only with time I realized that a strong skater isn’t the one with strong points, but one without weaknesses."

"The desired result should be your main task. In sport there is only one such result – victory."

Qualities it takes to win the Olympics
"The deepest knowledge, highest skills, warrior spirits and happiness. Only god can bring happiness."

On Japan junior skater Miki Ando becoming the first female to land a quad.
"Without a sparrow in hands, they are striving to catch a crane in the sky (old saying). They (Japanese) don’t have average achievements to hold onto."

Did you know?
Evgeni gave Alexei Mishin a puppy on his anniversary. The dog’s name is Eva.

Name Alexei Nikolaevich Mishin
Born March 8, 1941
Home town St. Petersburg, Russia
Training town St. Petersburg, Russia
Home club Ybileiny Sport Club
Education Ph.D in educational science. Dissertation on "Techniques and methods of teaching multiple revolution jumps in figure skating."
Wife Tatiana Mishina
Children 2 sons, Nikolai and Andrei
Competitive career Paired with Tamara Moskvina. World Championships (1969) 2nd; Olympics (1968) 4th; European Championships (1969) 2nd and (1970) 3rd; Russian National Championships (1969) 1st and (1970) 1st.
Students/former students Evgeni Plushenko, Alexei Urmanov, Alexei Yagudin, Elena Sokolova.
Hobbies Tennis, amateur radio operator, fishing, gardening
Motto "We only dream about rest."


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