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Yagudin Comes Up Golden - 2002-02-18

At the Salt Lake City Olympics, controversy surrounded the awarding of a gold medal in pairs' figure skating last week, but there was no dispute about the winner of Thursday's gold medal in men's figure skating, Russia's Alexei Yagudin.

It was a nearly flawless performance, and afterwards, an elated Alexei Yagudin kissed the ice.

Reflecting on his gold medal win, the 21-year-old skater told VOA he feels as if he is living in a dream.

"It is an amazing feeling because all my life, I have been working so hard, for 17 years in this sport," he said. "And there were so many problems on the way to this [Olympic gold] podium. There were bad times and good times, but still there was hard work behind that. So it was really amazing that everything is over right now in a good way."

Gold medal winner Alexei Yagudin beat fellow Russian Evgeni Plushenko, who earned the silver in men's figure skating. U.S. skater Timothy Goebel took the bronze medal.

There was none of the controversy around Alexei Yagudin that surrounded his countrymen, Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. Monday, the two earned the gold in pairs figure skating, only to be learn they must share the win with the Canadian duo.

A French judge was suspended for misconduct following allegations that she had been pressured into voting for the Russians.

Alexei Yagudin has had enough of the controversy surrounding his Russian colleagues. "They have done their work, they skated great. I was really happy that they got the gold medal. A little bit surprised that the Canadians got the gold too, but it has been a week already so we have to stop talking about that. And there are human people judging," he said, "The Russians lost the first mark, but they won the second, the presentation, so everything was correct. And I am surely happy that I did not do anything to make the judges do the same thing to me."

Asked how he is enjoying the games, Alexei Yagudin says everything is great, except the controversy and the heavy security, which he is starting to find annoying.