Of the 10 men performing their short programs in Thursday’s figure skating team event, eight planned a quadruple jump. Three-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko, U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott and three-time world champion Patrick Chan planned the same combination to open their programs — a quad toe-triple toe.
Plushenko, 31, was the fourth skater up, taking the ice shortly before 8 p.m. local time and performing to “Tango de Roxanne” from the movie “Moulin Rouge”.
The crowd at the Iceberg Skating Palace cheered the moment Plushenko came into view, waved Russian flags and chanted “Schenya! Schenya!,” a nickname of great affection. The seven-time European champion, who competed lightly in the past season, delivered his quad toe-triple toe without a hitch and got terrific amplitude on the triple axel and triple lutz that followed.
His music was as dramatic and commanding as the aging Russian was in his prime.
His score, 91.39, placed him first among the four, with Abbott up next and the powerhouses Chan and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanru yet to compete.
As his country’s sole male figure skater in the Sochi Olympics, Plushenko will have to perform his long program on Sunday, as well, when the team medals will be awarded.