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Russian figure skating head says Plushenko’s Olympic team spot justified

January 22, 2014, 19:32 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The test-skating program of Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko was incomparable to his performance at last month’s national championships, official says

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Evgeni Plushenko

Evgeni Plushenko

© ITAR-TASS/Artur Lebedev

MOSCOW, January 22. /ITAR-TASS/. The test-skating program of Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko was incomparable to his performance at last month’s national championships and eventually he deserved the place in the Olympic team, the head of Russia’s figure skating governing body said on Wednesday.

With less than three weeks remaining before the start of the Olympics in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, the most intriguing question for Russia’s traditionally strong figure skating was whether 2006 Olympic champion Plushenko would be performing for his country in men’s singles discipline.

On Tuesday, Plushenko test-skated for a special council of experts from the Russian Figure Skating Federation, which announced on Wednesday that he was eventually selected to represent Russia at the upcoming Olympics.

“The jumps as well as the whole skating program were performed at a very good level,” Valentin Piseyev, the head of the federation, said commenting on Plushenko’s test-skating on Tuesday.

“We saw entirely different Plushenko comparing with the one at the Russian championship,” Piseyev said.

Plushenko’s main rival for the spot in the Olympic team, 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun, left the 2006 Olympic champion behind with silver in Russia’s national championship in late December, casting a shadow on Plushenko’s dreams to participate in his fourth Olympics.

Kovtun, however, finished fifth at the European Championship in Budapest last week, behind two more Russian figure skaters, and the Russian figure skating federation said it would decide on the athlete in men’s singles after Plushenko’s individual test program.

Plushenko, who also brought Russia silver medals both at the 2002 Olympics in US Salt Lake City and at the 2010 Olympics in Canada’s Vancouver and won seven European champion titles, struggled with back injuries over the past two skating seasons, but kept insisting that he would be able to perform for his country at the Sochi Olympics.

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