He trained with another exceptional skater, Alexei Yagudin, who would become his greatest opponent in competition.
In 2001, the man affectionately nicknamed Zhenya in Russia had another wonderful season, becoming Russian, European and world champion. His victories naturally made him the favourite at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002. Although, in the short programme, he made an error in the quadruple-triple sequence, his performance in the free programme to Carmen was perfect. He climbed the leader board but could not close the gap that separated him from Yagudin, who won gold ahead of his former training partner.
Between 2003 and 2006, Evgeni Plushenko was the absolute world master of figure skating. Three European Championship, two World Championship and three national titles were added to those he had earned previously. In 2005, the world skating championships were held in Moscow, but he was injured and had to withdraw from the competition after the short programme.
Having recovered, the Russian skater was the darling of the Turin Games in 2006. An elegant skater, he was also an incredible athlete and a technician able to make extremely difficult combinations of jumps. In the short programme, he started with an impeccable quadruple jump accompanied by music from Tosca. The bar was immediately placed very high. What followed was a master class. Evgeni led the competition. His long programme, skated to the Godfather theme, was also a very high quality technical and artistic performance. He earned his first, undisputed Olympic title in the Palavela stadium, which he had won over.
This victory led Zhenya to take a break from competition. He withdrew for two seasons. Returning in 2009, he again won the European Championships, in 2010. For his third Games, in Vancouver in 2010, he was leading after the short programme, but eventually had to hand over his title to America’s Lysacek after the free programme, for only 1.3 points. Evgeni Pluschenko therefore won a third Olympic medal, his second silver one. In the men’s individual event, only Sweden’s Gillis Grafström had ever done better than the Russian, but that was 80 years ago!