Plushenko selected for Sochi 2014 skating solo spot after all as selection saga takes another twist

Thursday, 23 January 2014
By Nick Butler

Evgeny Plushenko is set to compete in the men's solo figure skating event on home ice in Sochi after all ©AFP/Getty ImagesJanuary 23 - In a remarkable upturn in fortunes, Russia's Evgeni Plushenko has been selected to compete in the men's solo figure skating event at Sochi 2014 despite ruling himself out last month.

His selection was announced by the Russian Figure Skating Federation and is still subject to approval today by the Sports Ministry and Russian Olympic Committee, although that is considered a formality.

One of the greatest figure skaters of all time, Plushenko won Olympic gold at Turin 2006 and also took silver medals at Salt Lake City 2002 and Vancouver 2010.

But,after barely competing on the international stage since due to a succession of injuries, he admitted after being beaten by teenager Maxim Kovtun at last month's National Championships it was time to "cede his spot in the men's competition to a young athlete".

But Russian figure skating officials dismissed this decision and refused to rule out his chances last month, and it is understood that an audition skate for officials and skating experts at the Federation's base on the outskirts of Moscow this week satisfied their demands.

Plushenko was delighted with his selection when he reacted via social media ©TwitterEvgeni Plushenko was delighted with his selection when he reacted via social media ©Twitter

Plushenko admitted his test skate "went great" and that he landed two quadruple jumps, the toughest element in the sport.

"I skated the programme clean with all the elements - I am pleased, my team is pleased, we did a great and successful job," he told R-Sport afterwards.

Among those who will miss out on selection will be Koytun, as well as the silver medal winner at last week's European Championships in Budapest Sergei Voronov, both of who are listed as reserves.

Despite clearing the first barrier of qualification, Plushenko will still face the toughest of challenges to win on home ice next month.

Canada's triple world champion Patrick Chan set a world record this season while Japanese teenage star Yuzuru Hanyu beat Chan - and his short programme record - at the Grand Prix finals in December.

European champion Javier Fernandez and Chinese prodigy Han Yan are also expected to mount serious challenges.

Patrick Chan is one of the new generation who will be favoured in Sochi ©Getty ImagesPatrick Chan is one of the new generation who will be favoured in Sochi ©Getty Images

Elsewhere in the Russian team, teenagers Julia Lipnitskaia and Adelina Sotnikova have been selected for the ladies event after coming first and second at the European Championships, with the former World Championship silver medalist Alena Leonova listed only as an alternate.

Also heading to Sochi will be the pairs world record holders Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov and the former European ice dance champions Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviev.

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January 2012: Plushenko gives Sochi 2014 hopes boost with Sheffield gold medal
June 2011: Plushenko given green light for Sochi 2014
June 2010: Plushenko banned from Sochi 2014 by International Skating Union
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