Plushenko won't skate at world championships
Knee injury sidelines former Olympic champ
Evgeni Plushenko will continue to compete at this week's European figure skating championships in Sheffield, England, but will not be at the world championships in late March.
Plushenko, 29, told reporters Thursday after the short program that he won't compete at the worlds in Nice due to a meniscus injury in his knee that will require surgery.
The two-time Olympic medallist finished with a score of 84.71 points on Thursday, just 0.09 behind fellow Russian Artur Gachinski. Plushenko said he will take the ice for the free skate in Sheffield, but will be unable to attempt a quadruple jump because of the injury.
"I'm pleased with the performance considering the circumstances. A program without a quad was like a trip into the past," he said.
Plushenko was marking his first major competition appearances since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, when he narrowly lost a highly debated result to gold medallist Evan Lysacek of the United States.
He won gold at the 2006 Torino Games.
Plushenko told reporters he's been receiving injections to deal with the pain, but that the latest setback won't deter him from his goal of competing at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi in his home country.
The world championships in Nice are set to begin on March 26.
Gachinski completed a quad and he finished with 84.80 points. Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic, the 2008 European champion, was third (81.14 points), just ahead of emerging star Javier Fernandez of Spain (80.11).
The three-time world champion has a long history of knee and back injuries, and he decided to start his program with a triple lutz rather than the quad so as not to aggravate them.
"When I do the quad toe, I need three or four minutes to recover from the pain," Plushenko said. "Therefore we decided not to do the quad today. It was either doing a program without the quad or not competing, and I want to finish this competition."
Still, it speaks volumes that Plushenko is in contention for his seventh European title without even trying that hardest of jumps in his showy routine, set to the emotional "Storm" by Yanni. A master at thrilling audiences, Plushenko hasn't lost the art of playing the showman.
His jumps were largely spot on, too, with a triple axel particularly impressing the judges.
At 18, Gachinski is 11 years younger than Plushenko. He has drawn comparisons to Plushenko because of his eye-catching shock of blonde hair and also training with Alexei Mishin, Plushenko's longtime coach. He showed Thursday he is a worthy successor to Plushenko. He was the only skater among the top men to do a clean quad, which is a must-have jump for male competitors these days.
Not only did the teenager score 15.83 from his dazzling opening quad toe-triple toe combination, the bronze medalist at last year's world championships received the highest levels for his spins.
Defending champion Florent Amodio of France, who is fourth with 78.48 points, wobbled after a quad salchow. Compatriot Brian Joubert, the 2007 world champion, fell on a quad toe loop and other errors left him 10th, likely out of contention for the podium.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov captured their first major title by heading a Russian sweep in the pairs competition at the European figure skating championships on Thursday.
Heading into the free skate in the lead after a season-best score in the short program on Wednesday, they produced a sublime performance to the "Black Swan" soundtrack to earn 137.65 points.
Volosozhar and Trankov finished with an overall score of 210.45 points, 16.66 ahead of Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov. Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov won the bronze medal with 171.81 points.
Volosozhar and Trankov, who were competing in their first European championships, won silver at last year's worlds.
With files from CBCSports.ca