Thursday, April 24, 2014
The Associated Press
SOCHI, Russia — Evgeni Plushenko didn't get any edge in the draw for Thursday's men's short program at the Sochi Games.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, embraces Evgeni Plushenko after Russia placed first in the team figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
The first four-time Olympic figure skating medalist of the modern era will skate seventh out of 30. Skaters prefer not to go early for fear the judges will score them lower to leave room for succeeding competitors.
Plushenko helped Russia to the team gold by finishing second to Yuzuru Hanyu in the short program of the new competition, then winning the free skate. He won the 2006 gold medal and also has silvers from 2002 and 2010.
There was conjecture the 31-year-old veteran would drop out of the men's event; Russia has only one slot.
But Plushenko made it clear after the team competition that if his doctors gave him the go-ahead — he says he's had 12 operations, and he has been plagued by knee and back problems in recent years — he would remain in the games.
Three of the medals favorites landed in the 19th through 21st spots: Japan's Hanyu, Spain's Javier Fernandez and Canada's Patrick Chan, a three-time world champion.
Hanyu beat Plushenko and Chan in the men's team short program, then the Japanese and Canadian skaters each skipped the free skate portion that Plushenko won.
American champ Jeremy Abbott will go 11th and teammate Jason Brown drew the 16th spot.
Abbott said Tuesday he is eager to atone for a poor seventh-place finish in the short program that put the United States in a bind in the team competition. A strong overall squad lifted the Americans to a bronze medal.
"I was extremely upset that I did that for my team," he said. "There's no perfect mindset when you go out to compete. Just make sure there are no other thoughts intruding.
"It made me kind of look at how I was structuring the competition and approaching it mentally. I am very excited for the individual event."
The ultra-enthusiastic Brown couldn't hide his eagerness to get back on the Olympic ice. He skated in the long program portion of the team event, finishing fourth, but with a much stronger showing than Abbott managed in the short.
"I am so lucky to be able to go into the individual event and have that behind me," Brown said. "I will take what I learned from that into the individual."
Daisuke Takahashi of Japan, the 2010 bronze medalist, will be 29th, followed by countryman Tatsuko Machida to round out the field.