Plushenko takes the title despite knee problems

Evgeni Plushenko

Evgeni Plushenko took his ninth national title on Monday in his first competitive event since his silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. However, two shaky routines proved much work lies ahead if he is to complete a much-trumpeted comeback.

Plushenko chose the Russian figure skating championships in Saransk as the springboard to revive a glittering skating career that he seeks to round off with a gold medal at his home Olympics – Sochi 2014. He admitted that he had found the going hard and had yet to fully recover from knee surgery earlier this year.

“It was tough,” Plushenko said. “First and foremost, psychologically. I haven’t performed in a long time, and the injury has an effect.”

“But I’m happy I’m back, I’m happy I won.”

Plushenko performed a rough-around-the-edges free program Monday with a quad toe loop that he fluffed the previous night in the short program. Some of his jumps were under-rotated and stepped out of others, but the home competitions meant the points were still enough for his ninth Russian national title.

The 2006 Torino Olympics gold medalist said that landing the quad was “very important, because I needed to conquer the painful fear of a knock to the left leg.”

Plushenko said he would need a second operation on his knee in the near future, perhaps after the European figure skating championships in Sheffield, UK, starting January 23.

Plushenko’s comeback to the competitive ice since being beaten to the gold by American Evan Lysacek in 2010 Vancouver Olympics has been delayed by injuries and illnesses, as well as a brief disqualification by the ISU after he took part in exhibition events, which are banned under amateur figure skating rules.

Russian Figure Skating Championships – All medalists

Men:

1. Evgeni Plushenko 259.67
2. Artur Gachinski 249.58
3. Sergei Voronov 240.79

Ice Dance:

1. Ekaterina Bobrova / Dmitri Soloviev 171.47
2. Elena Ilinykh / Nikita Katsalapov 161.94
3. Ekaterina Riazanova / Ilia Tkachenko 154.71

Pairs:

1.Vera Bazarova / Yuri Larionov 194.86
2. Ksenia Stolbova / Fedor Klimov 182.13
3. Anastasia Martyusheva / Alexei Rogonov 179.94

Ladies:

1. Adelina Sotnikova 193.71
2. Julia Lipnitskaia 191.65
3. Alena Leonova 178.15

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