Plushenko: Russia Made Me Skate Hurt. Er, No, It Didn't
He initially says yes, then backtracks
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2014 10:34 AM CST
Evgeni Plushenko of Russia leaves the ice after pulling out of the men's short program figure skating competition during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.   (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

(Newser) – In a surprise move, Russian figure skating star and three-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko pulled out of the men's individual competition at the Sochi Olympics just before he was supposed to skate his short program last week, due to an injury, then quickly announced his retirement from the sport. But Plushenko, 31 and a four-time Olympian, had earlier helped Russia earn a team gold medal. Interviewed by CNN yesterday, Plushenko said Russian skating federation officials forced him to skate despite his injury—but later he backtracked on that claim.

Asked if he was forced to skate, Plushenko initially replied, "That's right." He later added, "I explained to my federation, that maybe somebody else is going to skate. I asked them. They said ... well, what happened, happened." But later, he said his comments had been misinterpreted: "I want to make clear that the federation put no pressure on me," he said in a statement on the federation's website. "I don't speak English fluently so my answers could have been incorrectly interpreted. I also could not always understand the sense and nuance of the questions." Last week, the New York Times noted that Plushenko's exit had sparked a backlash in Russia, with some wondering whether he should have been sent to the Games in the first place.

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Showing 3 of 12 comments
Feb 19, 2014 3:29 PM CST
So now he is going to whine and complain that "KGB" forced him to participate. What a loser.
Feb 19, 2014 6:21 AM CST
This Olympics has tons of stories about older athletes. Some do very well beyond ages we have seen before winning medals...and others reach the end of their career with an attempt to get their body to "do it one more time." No one hit Lindsey Van for being "too old" to jump when she came in 15th, no matter how broken up her body has become trying to even get to the Olympics. Plushenko will be remembered for what he did, not for what he didn't do.
Feb 18, 2014 3:21 PM CST
The way the rest of the single men's final skated, had he not injured himself on the triple, he probably would have won another gold. No one comes close to his artistry.