SOCHI, December 24 (R-Sport) – Nothing less than a tenth title will do for Evgeni Plushenko at this week's Russian national championships, despite a number of health issues threatening to impede his performance.
Competition at the Sochi Olympic venue, the Iceberg Skating Palace, begins Tuesday and runs through Thursday.
Plushenko is on a long-term comeback that he hopes will conclude with Olympic gold in 2014, but his efforts have been hit by knee injuries and viruses.
“I was planning to take part in Dortmund competition at the beginning of December, but I got injured and now I’m recovering,” Plushenko said.
“So there are some difficulties, but this is not the first time. The Russian championships are an important competition and I want to win for the tenth time.”
His rivals for the title include world championship bronze medalist Artur Gachinski and Junior Grand Prix Final winner Maxim Kovtun.
However, the main events for the 30 year old lie further ahead.
“I’m looking forward to the European championships, maybe the world championships. But the main thing for me is next season, my fourth Olympic Games. My aim is to go through next season without injuries and to do myself justice at the Olympics.”
Plushenko has not competed since winning the European title in January, barring a one-day exhibition contest in Japan in October.
Plushenko won the silver medal at Salt Lake City in 2002, when countryman Alexei Yagudin took the gold.
He beat Stephane Lambiel and Jeffrey Buttle to the title in 2006, but failed to defend it at Vancouver 2010, settling for silver behind Evan Lysacek, the first non-Russian to take the Olympic gold in 22 years.