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Plushchenko wins his 7th European Championship

January 29, 2012, 6:22 UTC+3

Even a week ago few people would believe in Plushchenko’s comeback

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MOSCOW, January 29 (Itar-Tass) — Russian figure-skater Evgeny Plushchenko has won his seventh European title after performing complicated combinations of jumps and other elements. Plushchenko scored 261.23 points after short and free programs. He outdid his young compatriot Arthur Gachinsky who was second with 246.27 points.

The Motorpoint Arean in Sheffiled which is hosting the 2012 European Figure Skating Championships this week has never heard such applause. The audience, journalists and officials rose to their feet in one single impulse to greet Plushchenko as the final chords of Roxanne’s Tango sounded on the ice rink.

Even a week ago few people would believe in Plushchenko’s comeback. But the figure-skater did the impossible: despite pain in his knee Plushchenko who won the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin skated one of the best programs in his career. Being no spring chicken himself, he outdid many young rivals who were in a better physical shape than he.

Plushchenko told reporters after the short program two days ago that he couldn’t perform a quad because of the pain that had returned to his knee.

“Unfortunately, there will be no quads in my free program,” Plushchenko said then.

He really took the audience by surprise when he opened his Saturday’s free program with a clean quadruple Tulup jump. The quad was followed by two confident triple Axels (on performed in combination with triple Tulup) and an entire set of other triple jumps, spins and complex step sequences of the highest level. And of course, emotions and expression which Plushchenko shows in every program.

“I am very happy. I am as happy to this title as to the Olympic one. I am glad that I did everything and proved that one could return to sport and win even when you are almost thirty and are suffering from traumas,” Plushchenko said.

Asked when he decided that he would jump a quad in his free program, Plushchenko said, “I felt much better at yesterday’s training session. I jump triple Tulup for a start and felt no pain. I did another triple jump. Again, there was no pain. Then, I tried a quad and felt some sharp pain but only for a second. So I decided that I would be able to stand this kind of discomfort and risked. I mustered up courage after I had jumped a clean quad. I remembered how I skated when I was young: with great energy, force and emotions.”

“I like figure-skating. I like competitions. My life is sad without them,” Evgeny said.

However, Plushchenko confirmed that he would miss the world championships in March. “I will have an operation on my knee in Munich in two weeks from now and it’s absolutely clear that I will have no time to recover after the surgery by the time of the world championship. I am human and I’ve had enough experiments with my health: I no longer want to skate on pain killers. I have to spare myself for the most important tournament – the Olympic Games in Sochi,” Plushchenko went on to say.

Another Russian Artur Gachinsky, 18, was the only one who could compete with Plushchenko both in short and free programs. For the first time in his career, Plushchenko jumped two Tulup quads and two triple Axels. But he got a bit tired in the second part of the program and make a mistake on a triple Roetberger and one of the spins. However, he won the silver medal, his first one at the European Championships.

“I am glad that I performed complex jumps. True, I got a bit tired by the end of the program. I have to work harder to improve my physical condition. It’s possible to fight against Plushchenko. For that I need not only to jump but also slide cleaner and move faster so that to improve my marks for program’s component.,” Gachinsky added he was glad that he and Plushchenko had won silver and gold at this year’s European Championships.

The bronze winner was Floran Amodio of France.

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