The Washington Post

Evgeni Plushenko withdraws from men’s figure skating competition


Evgeni Plushenko of Russia skates on the ice prior to pulling out of the men’s short program figure skating competition. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

SOCHI, Russia — Four days after helping Russia to gold in figure skating’s team competition, Evgeni Plushenko withdrew from the individual competition at the Sochi Olympics and retired from competitive skating on Thursday — just seconds after his name was called to perform his short program at Sochi’s Iceberg Skating Palace.

The 31-year-old Plushenko, competing in his fourth Olympics, was seeking a fifth Olympic medal. He won gold at the 2006 Games and silver medals in 2002 and 2010, and last week he played a key role in Russia’s team gold.

But his campaign to embellish a sterling Olympic resume ended abruptly, shortly after the men’s competition had gotten under way.

Plushenko was scheduled to compete seventh among 30 skaters. He took the ice for warm-ups but was ailing visibly during the brief session. He bent over at the waist for an extended time, as if contemplating his course, then straightened and started massaging his lower back. Shortly before his name was called to compete, he skated to the edge of the rink to confer with three Russian coaches, then skated over to the judges’ table to inform them of his decision. After shaking hands, he turned to raise both hands in acknowledgement of the crowd as his withdrawal was announced.

As Russia’s lone male entry in the team figure skating competition at the Sochi Olympics, Plushenko was scheduled to compete more in an eight-day span than his rivals for the podium. Without a male compatriot to share the load, Plushenko was forced to perform both his short program and free skate twice in the sport’s new team event last week. To contend for an individual medal, he needed to perform both again, starting with Thursday’s short. From the start, it was an open question how his body would hold up following the 12th surgery of his career, on his back, just last February.


Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. She has also covered seven Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
From clubfoot to climbing: Double amputee lives life of adventure
Learn to make traditional soup dumplings
In defense of dads
Play Videos
How to make head cheese
Perks of private flying
The rise and fall of baseball cards
Play Videos
Husband finds love, loss in baseball
New hurdles for a Maryland tradition
How to survive a shark attack
Play Videos
Portland's most important meal of the day
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to save and spend money at college
Next Story
David Larimer · February 13, 2014