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Russian figure skating star Plushenko undergoes cervical hernia surgery

Evgeni Plushenko was operated upon on Monday and is in satisfactory condition, his attending physician says

MOSCOW, March 14. /TASS/. Russia’s two-time Olympic Champion Evgeni Plushenko has been operated upon in Israel to remove a cervical hernia, the Russian Figure Skating Federation said on its website on Monday.

The surgery was conducted by Plushenko’s attending physician Ilya Pekarsky. "Evgeni Plushenko was operated on Monday. As of now, he is in satisfactory condition," the federation said.

"A medical examination in the Israeli clinic revealed a hernia between the 6th and 7th cervical vertebras," Plushenko said. "The hernia pinched the nerve running to the left arm practically disabling it. So, I had to agree to another surgery. I will be out of my routine schedule for about four days to begin a gradual rehabilitation. The doctor warned me that jumping, any jumping, and will be prohibited for the next at least five months. All the rest, i.e. training sessions in a gym or on ice, will be allowed."

He said he had to skip the current season because of pain. "I performed only thanks to pain-killers but barely finished the latest few shows. So, I understood this hernia is to be removed to be able to continue training. I had no other option," he said.

He said the current health problems have forced him to cancel about 25 shows in Japan, China, Bulgaria and other countries. However, he said, he plans to resume the tour in September.

"So, the major task for the next few months is to recover so that nothing could hinder training. And after that, well, lets us wait and see. I don’t change my plans about my taking part in the 2018 Olympic Games. So, I will continue to work on that," he said.

"If Plushenko sticks to the recommendations and doesn’t force events, he will be able to resume his regular training regime in some six months. Naturally, he will have to keep fit over this period to get adapted to muscle loading as quickly as possible," Pekarsky said.

Although retired in the past Plushenko stunned media in the summer of 2014 by announcing that he intended to compete for another title at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea’s PyeongChang.

Titled 33-year-old Plushenko performed in four Olympics throughout his career, winning his first Olympic gold at the 2006 Winter Games in Italy’s Turin and the second in February last year at Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi. He retired from sports after the Sochi Olympics.

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 two skating seasons prior to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but kept insisting that he would be able to perform well on his home ice.

He partly kept his promise winning the gold in team’s competition in Sochi, but his withdrawal from the men’s individuals saw him not only going to Israel last year for the surgery on his back, but drew mass criticism across Russia.

During a warm-up before the individuals’ performance, Plushenko attempted a triple axel jump, but landed uncomfortably aggravating his old injury and breaking a screw that supported an artificial intervertebral disk in his back.

Eventually, the Russian figure skating star withdrew from the competition and later announced that he had decided to quit sports for good.

In April 2015, Plushenko was enlisted once again in the Russian national figure skating team however in mid-September he announced his decision to skip following another spine injury. In December, he said he doesn’t need a spine surgery which was planned for March 2016.