VANCOUVER (AFP) -- Aleksei Mishin, coach of Olympic men's figure skating champion Yevgeny Plushenko, on Saturday hit back at his protege's critics.
The three-time world champion from Russia has found himself at the centre of a row over his style of skating dubbed out-of-date and too jumps-centred.
It sparked accusations of North American lobbying against European skaters including Plushenko and France's Brian Joubertwho can do the quadruple jumps which the Americans cannot.
"I don't like it when Plushenko is criticised too early," said Mishin, who has coached the 27-year-old Russian throughout his career.
The veteran coach claimed that figure skating was going backwards because skaters were unable to do difficult jumps.
"Modern figure skating without the quad is going back to the time before (Elvis) Stojko and (Aleksei) Urmanov," he said.
And he insisted that Plushenko was an artist on the ice as could be seen in his short programme to Concierto de Aranjuez and Tango Amore free skate.
"In each of his programmes he is telling a story," he explained.
"Each programme is a show. The component (programme component score) should reflect that. Not many skaters show programmes at the same artistic level as he does.
"Skaters should compete on the ice and not through internet comments."
Plushenko had his second practise session at the Pacific Coliseum on Saturday, landing a quadruple-double jump.
"His practice today was flawless and I'm pleased with it," said Mishin. "He is in the form that he should have three days before the competition.
"We wanted to show the technical specialists that we've worked on the two straight line step sequences that were graded level two at the European championships. We wanted to show clearly that they are a level three."
After Europeans the defending Olympic champion took things easy, said Mishin.
"We didn't want to give him too heavy a workload. We treated him carefully, like a flower bouquet that should look fresh on the day of the competition."
Former world champion Joubert had his first session on the ice Saturday.
"I had positive feelings on the ice. It felt very good especially on the quad," he said. "The rink is not so impressive. I don't feeling that I'm at the Olympic Games but a training camp."
Of his rivals the French skater added: "There is not only Plushenko but also the North Americans and the Japanese."