SOCHI, December 25 (R-Sport) – Turin 2006 Olympic gold medalist Evgeny Plushenko said Wednesday he will not compete in the men’s tournament at February's Winter Games in Sochi and will concentrate on the team event.
The 31-year-old, who also won Olympic silver in 2002 and 2010, said he was ready to give way to the younger generation, meaning the 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun is likely to take Russia’s sole slot in the men’s event at the Sochi Games.
Plushenko's remarks came after Kovtun beat him to gold at the Russian national championships in Sochi on Wednesday, scoring a total of 267.13 points to the older skater's 261.37.
“I think I’ll choose the team event and will give the individual competition to a young and prospective athlete,” Plushenko said. “I understand everything adequately. It will be enough for me to take part in the team event.”
The team event is a new Olympic competition in which each country enters skaters from each of the four disciplines - men's, women's, pairs and ice dance - with the total scores for all four deciding the winning nation. Russia and Canada are the favorites for team gold in Sochi.
Plushenko also added he would not participate in January’s European championships in Budapest.
Plushenko has skated in competition just twice before this year. At January’s European championships he was forced to withdraw with a back injury that kept him off the ice for most of the year before he returned at last month’s Volvo Open Cup in Riga, which he won against low-rated competition.
The Russian figure skating idol was leading after the short program, but failed to avoid mistakes in the free skate, managing only one quadruple toe loop unlike his main rivals.
“I can’t say this skate was successful, I made too many mistakes today,” said Plushenko. “I know the reason: I just should skate more. My leg muscles wore out and it happened already at the training. Probably, because I haven’t skated at the competitions for a while.”
Kovtun, who was fifth at the Grand Prix Finals earlier this month, skated a perfect free program with two quads and a triple axel-double toe loop combination.
Last year’s runner-up Sergei Voronov came third this time, receiving 249.44 points, losing 17.69 points to the champion.
The results mean both Kovtun and Voronov will represent Russia in Hungarian capital, while the third place will be picked by the coaching council of the figure skating federation.
Earlier in the day, Former European silver medalist Adelina Sotnikova skated a clean short program to take the lead ahead of the Grand Prix Finals runner-up Julia Lipnitskaia.