He lost a key qualifying round in December to a young upstart named Maxim Kovtun, who is 12 years younger than Plushenko and approaching his prime. He refused to compete in the last qualifying round for Sochi, saying that he was too busy training for the Olympics, and he used his celebrity status in Russia to help lobby for another shot. The Russian figure skating association allowed him to dance a “control run” for a committee of skating experts less than three weeks before the Games.
Although that performance was never shown to the public or the press, the committee ruled that it was enough to give Plushenko a ticket to Sochi. The pain that began bothering him during the team event on Sunday never went away, his coach said on Thursday. The day before the singles event, Plushenko took a heavy fall during training.
As TIME reported earlier this week, Plushenko's back was troubling him toward the end of his solo performance at Sunday's team event. “There are no healthy athletes in the major leagues,” said his coach, Alexei Mishin.
“Everybody hurts.” Plushenko even suggested that he might compete in the next Winter Games four years from now. On the strength of his remaining talents, it had been hard for him even to make it into these Olympics.
“As for me, I won’t go [to the 2018 Olympics] as an athlete,” Plushenko said on Russian TV on Friday, according to a Russian news agency TASS translation. I’m opening my own academy where I will work as a coach.
If we together with the athletes manage to prepare for the Olympics, maybe I will come.” Plushenko, 34, last competed at the Sochi Olympics, taking team event gold and withdrawing from singles after his short program warm-up due to a back injury.
The Olympic figure skater Evgeni Plushenko, one of Russia's most beloved athletes, was nearing the end of his performance at the Winter Games in Sochi on Sunday night when he felt a sharp pinch in his spine.
Few in the packed stands of the Iceberg Arena, whose audience that night included Russian President Vladimir Putin, noticed the subtle change in the skater's posture at that moment.
Yesterday, we shared with you some fan art dedicated to 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya, who even displayed a piece on her personal social media site.
He has undergone back and neck surgeries in recent years.
“I look at how the youth has grown up and men’s figure skating as well, it is now impossible to compete with young [athletes] it seems to me,” Plushenko said, according to TASS.
But now that he has officially retired from the sport, many people are wondering where life will take Puru-sama next. It looks like it could be a legitimate possibility after he praised newly-crowned Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu and responded to a Japanese fan’s tweet a couple of days ago.
It all began when Japanese Twitter user Uchida Haruko posted the following piece of fan art of Plushenko on her account.