Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia, on March 18, 1980, Alexei Yagudin began figure skating at four years of age. He was a sickly child, and his mother Zoya believed that being on the ice would help to build his stamina and improve his overall health. As his health improved, Yagudin began to show a natural aptitude for the sport, and his mother enrolled him in skating lessons.

Years later, Yagudin showed such great potential that he was accepted at one of Russia's foremost skating institutions, where he studied for years under the renowned guidance of Alexei Mishin. In 1996, he began to compete internationally, and earned an encouraging 4th place finish at the World Junior Championships. Two years later, Alexei returned to the World Junior Championships and took home the gold medal.

Raised by his mother, Yagudin used most of his early earnings to install her and the rest of his family in their own apartment-- due to a housing crisis in St. Petersburg, they'd had to share an apartment with another family through most of Alexei's formative years. Yagudin also graduated high school, and was ranked second in his class.

Yagudin made his Olympic debut in Nagano in 1998, but was unable to capture a medal due to a bout with the flu, and was hospitalized following the competition due to weakness. Soon after, Yagudin made a dramatic recovery, winning his first World Championship in Minneapolis, despite still taking his fluids intravenously. At the age of 18, Yagudin became the fourth-youngest world championship winner in skating history.

In 1998 Yagudin entered the tutelage of world-famous coach and choreographer Tatiana Tarsova, who would nurture his budding talent to an Olympic gold. Yagudin was relentless in the season that followed, racking up 9 wins in 11 competitions entered, including another World Championship. Best known for his intense rivalry with fellow skater Evgeny Plushenko, the edge clearly goes to Yagudin, who has to date won 3 World Championships, 2 European Championships, as well as an Olympic gold from a decisive victory over Plushenko in 2002. He is also the first skater to sweep the four major titles (namely, the European and World Championships, and the Olympic gold and Grand Prix title) in a single season.

Now training in Simsbury, Connecticut, Yagudin faces a nemesis of a much different nature: his own body. In the fall of 2002, Yagudin was diagnosed as having a congenital disorder affecting the cartilage of his right hip. Despite being in massive pain, Yagudin has made several competitive appearances in late 2002, and has confirmed that he will make more in 2003. Still, Yagudin remains at the mercy of his weathered cartilage, and is unsure whether or not his injury will permit him to continue his skating career.

With his official website touting him as "The Hottest Man on Ice", Alexei Yagudin (known affectionately as "Yags" to his fans) is known equally for his charisma and striking talent as he is for his fierce rivalry with compatriot Evgeny Plushenko. Yagudin is a graduate of Russia's Academy of Sports and Physical Culture with a major in Coaching.

COMPETITIVE HIGHLIGHTS:

2002

1st -- Canadian Open
1st -- Olympics in Salt Lake
1st -- European Championships


2001

2nd -- World Championships
2nd -- Grand Prix Final
2nd -- European Championships
1st -- Japan Open


2000
1st -- World Championships
1st -- Japan Open
2nd -- European Championships
2nd -- Skate America
1st -- Skate Canada
1st -- Canadian Open

1999
1st -- World Championships
1st -- European Championships
1st -- Grand Prix Final
1st -- Skate America
1st -- Skate Canada

1998

1st -- World Championships
1st -- World Professional Championships
1st -- European Championships
2nd -- Russian Nationals
1st -- Challenge of Champions
1st -- Skate America
5th -- Olympic Games

1997
1st -- Cup of Russia
1st -- Trophee Lalique
3rd -- World Championships

bibliography:
http://www.skatingsource.com/yagudin.shtml
http://skatinginc.com/Skaters/Yagudin/Home/