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Motor City morsels: Yellow Trankov not so mellow

Recovering Plushenko works on 'Best of Plushenko' free skate
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Maxim Trankov is still working out which shade of yellow to dye his pants. -Getty Images

They're yellow. They're hot. They're Trankov's pants, and they will not be ignored.

When Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar set their free skate to music from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, costuming presented a challenge, at least for the male half of the Russian world pairs champions.

"I don't just want to be classic Jesus on the cross," Trankov, competing said. "I cannot go naked, with only a white thing (loin cloth). In the musical, there was a long white dress, but I cannot skate like this, with my spins and everything. (He demonstrates a camel.) That would be illegal."

So, Trankov turned to yellow pants. The response was immediate. Sartorial discussions sprung up on figure skating boards and went on for many pages. The pants gained their own Twitter page, the eponymous @Trankovspants.

The wearer of the pants follows his trousers on Twitter but is nonplussed by the fuss.

"I am just trying to find a way," he said, while competing at 2013 Skate America. "Jesus Christ Superstar [is set in] the hippy time, it's a hippy movie, it's rock 'n' roll. So, I have to be in color.

"Some people say, 'No, you cannot wear yellow pants.' I say, 'Why not?' And they cannot explain why not. Everybody thinks your pants must be blue, or black, or white, but not yellow."

As Trankov is quick to point out, he's not alone. Yellow pants fever is spreading in figure skating circles, at least in Europe. North America seems to be lagging in the trend.

"Ondrej Hotarek, the Italian pair skater, is on my team," Trankov said. "He wears yellow pants for his short program. I know Brian Joubert and Fabian Bourzat, they skate with yellow pants. So, we are a big group of yellow pants."

Reached at a local tailor's shop, @Trankovspants confirmed sales are brisk.

"Every fashion-conscious European male skater is just dyeing to wear yellow this season."

Alas, the classic version of Trankov's pants live on only in memories. The skater has refined the concept since the free skate's debut at Nebelhorn Trophy last month.

"When they were very yellow, they were not finished," Trankov said. "There was no time for costumes and I wore a first version. Now, they are not only yellow, there are other colors."

Can a skating version of Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat be far behind?

Plushenko on Sochi track, says Mishin

One man who will likely not sport yellow this season, Evgeni Plushenko, isn't competing at Skate America, but reporters deluged his longtime coach, Alexei Mishin, with questions about the three-time world champion's chances to qualify for a fourth Olympic Games.

Plushenko won Olympic gold in 2006 and silver in 2002 and 2010. He, along with fellow Mishin pupil Artur Gachinski, Maxim Kovtun, Sergei Voronov and Konstantin Menshov, are generally considered to be vying for Russia's single men's spot in Sochi.

"He does now triple Axel and he does quad toe," Mishin said, quickly whipping out a smartphone to play a video of Plushenko landing a solid triple Axel. "He still has screws in his back, and with this it is not so simple to do jumps, but he is very powerfully charged to be a skater."

Plushenko, who withdrew from the 2013 European Figure Skating Championships after the short program due to a back injury, underwent spinal disc replacement surgery in Tel Aviv in January. Mishin wasn't sure when, or if, the screws would be removed, but work on his pupil's free skate -- a mélange of past programs, titled "The Best of Plushenko" -- continues apace in St. Petersburg.

"This [free skate] was my idea," Mishin said with pride. "I should love my own ideas. If I did not love myself, nobody would love me."

If Gachinski's performance at Skate America this week is any indication, Plushenko may be a step closer to Sochi. The 2011 world bronze medalist placed eighth, and last, after missing many of his jumps.

"Of course, Russian nationals will be a fight for him," said Mishin, who has trained Plushenko since the skater was 11 or 12. "All his life was a struggle for himself. Nobody ever awarded him any gold medals for free, just for the hard work."

As many hours as Plushenko puts in the rink, though, he still takes time out for fun.

"He is not crazy," Mishin said. "He loves golf. He loves hunting. He loves his children (one with a previous wife, one with his current wife and two stepchildren).

"Plushenko is not like a figure skating paranoid. He loves life also."