Winter Games Athletes
It’s been a back-and-forth, will-he-or-won’t-he ride with Plushenko in the months leading up to the Sochi Games, but the three-time Olympic medalist’s latest change of mind is that he wants to compete one final time in his home country. Plushenko failed to win gold at the Russian championships in December in his first time entering the event since 1998, and said after his second-place finish that he wanted to step aside and let champion Maxim Kovtun take the country’s lone spot in the men’s singles while concentrating on the team event. Plushenko’s stance seemed to soften over the past month, and Russian officials are set to work out the 2006 Olympic gold medalist in late January before coming to a conclusion on which skater they’ll pick. Plushenko has rarely skated in international competition since finishing second behind American Evan Lysacek in Vancouver, but he did win the two events he didn’t withdraw from - the 2012 world championships and the 2013 Volvo Open Cup. His chances of skating in the men’s singles received another boost when Kovtun stumbled in the European championships in January, finishing fifth overall amid the growing questions of whether he’d be denied the spot on Russia’s team. Should Plushenko wind up skating in Sochi, he’ll be attempting to become the first men’s skater to win four medals, but the odds may be against him despite a bit of a home-ice advantage. He’s had knee surgery, back issues and a synthetic spinal disk procedure in the past two years.