(moderators: putting it here since some of the journalists read the FSU but don't have an access to the members area, think it's only fair they have an access to their own articles). quiui, join in? Kulinicheva: Pluschenko Passion for sport-express.ru The locals roll their eyes when asked about the weather. Usually January is quite cold, while today the temperature is near 0 and even higher from time to time. Zagreb is covered in a snowy rain, the local airport closes from time to time due to heavy fog. The Russian ice dancers were lucky - all 3 teams came to Zagreb in Sunday and were practicing on Monday. The Moscow skaters went through some adventures. A group which included Tarasova, Volosozhar, Trankov, the RFSF Gorshkov and Piseev got stuck in Budapest for almost 10 hours. Besides the weather the blame was on those who organized the trip. The skaters believed the promises they were given and instead of taking a bus were stuck in Budapest till a very late evening. It was especially hard on Volosozhar/Trankov, whose first training was at 8am. Nevertheless they were on the ice. The St. Petersburg skaters were a bit more lucky - they were able to exchange the tickets in Russia an be just slightly late to Zagreb. The misfortunes happened to other teams as well. The Spanish Javier Fernandez' luggage was lost, hence instead of training on the ice he could only do stretching and be envy of the skaters who had their skates. The first day in Zagreb left little doubt who is the main star of the championship. Of course it's Evgeni Pluschenko. The 30 y.o. Russian was the only athlete who was invited to a press conference with the major of town. Pluschenko received a standing ovation when came to the practice. It's a shame Pluschenko was not able to be in his best shape in Zagreb, as it was planned. During the test skates in the Autumn he was well prepared and many mentioned they have never seen Pluschenko in such a shape. The problems began later. Pluschenko admitted yesterday his back still hurts. After the nationals in Sochi in December he had to take yet another break and receive more injections and blocks. It's hardly surprising the organizers are so happy he came - till last Friday it was not obvious Last year in Sheffield Pluschenko was skating with the same kind of problem. As we all remember he had one of his best skates and won. During the practice yesterday Pluschenko first ran through his programme with no jumps and attempted the quad and the seq later. EP: I decided not to push it with the jumps. I landed the quad from the first attempt and that was it. Generally not a bad practice. How am I feeling? There is an injury which prevents me from working as I should. I sometimes feel a shooting pain after a landing or during the spins. But I came to the Europeans and I plan to go through even with the pain. I realize it'll be hard, but I need the competing experience. Whatever will be will be. I watched the practices now and I can't really tell anyone left me with a `WOW'. I'll get through somehow. EK: Have you decided how complicated your programme is gonna be? EP: The maximum. But, I guess, with one quad only, even though we planned two in the LP EK: Will you put the jumps in the 2nd part of the programme? EP: Yes, the 2nd part will be different from the one in Russian nationals. Pluschenko's competition begins on Thursday. Later in Friday ladies will start the conquest of the medals, where we expect Adelina Sotnikova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva to fight. Assume in order to protect Sotnikova from all the attention she remained in MOscow till the last moment, while her coach Elena Buyanova with her other pupil Maxim Kovtun is already in Zagreb. Sotnikova will arrive later today. Because of the tragedy that struck Trankov's family it's useless talking how important this championship for Mozer's group. I will just remind it'll be the first time this season the Grand Prix champions and the World Champions will meet. The Russians were beaten by the Germans by a margin twice last year - in Grand Prix final and in the Worlds. I guess this is the reason Maksim is now in Zagreb rather than in Russia with his family. Kawaguti/Smirnov seem to be in a great mood and shape. They were joking it was funny flying through Vienna - after all their short programme is a Waltz. The ice dancers will start the competition. After the two times european champions Pechalat/Brouzat withdrew due to his injury the Russian crowd's dream about a Russian sweep by Bobrova/Soloviev, Ilinyh/Katsalapov and Riazanova/Tkachenko. The ones who might break the sweep are the Italians Cappellini/Lanotte, who, together with Riazanova/Tkachenko train in Spilband's group. Just like the Russians they will have to compete without their coach's support - he remained in the USA for the nationals. Cappellini/Lanotte will skate in the last group. I.e. after all the Russians, who are in the group before.