Well look at Sasha in 1991 and two / three years later. He was very tiny in 1991 and obviously had really heavy growth spurts afterwards - just look what lesser sprints did to Gachinskis jumps and when Plushenko was not able to land a quad at 2000 Worlds Mishin also cited a growth spurt as making his jumps unstable. Add to that a coaching change starting to take effect and doing military service even if you probably have better conditions in military when you are an athlete, it still adds a disadvantage compared to other athletes. I think it was Alexander Uspenski who once in an Interview quite openly admitted that he went to university for the main reason that students dont have to do military service in Russia. That gives you an impression that going to military is not really helpful to boost ones skating career. Sasha didnt compete at 1995/96 Nationals, as he had to sit them out due to knee injury. And the next year he placed 7th and not 18th. But yes all the others, Urmanov, Yagudin, Plushenko placed (deservedly) above him for the one reason that he just had been on the ice for a couple of weeks after a really bad injury and entered that competition knowing that he was unable to perform a 3 Axel yet. Thats what I meant with bad timing it gave the other guys a chance to overtake him in the rankings at Russian Nats. And the next year it was pretty obvious that Russian Fed supported other the youngsters far more than Abt. I apparently missed that placement at Russian Nats were decided based on GP placements that year, because I referred to robbery at Russian Nats that year and not during the GP. 1. because the lower placement at RN occasionally didnt allow him to skate at major international competitions 2. because he skated better a number of times at international competitions and was still placed behind his worse skating teammates (EC 2002, SLC SP, WC 2000 QR .). Come on, its not like that matters only in Russia if you are no. 1, 2 or 3 in your team or if a skater has support by his own fed when competing internationally.