YUZHNY-SAKHALINSK, Russia, April 5 (R-Sport) - Russian figure skating star Evgeny Plushenko is to appear on the ice Saturday for the first time since undergoing disc replacement surgery in January.
The 2006 Turin Olympic champion is to take part in an exhibition event to open a new ice rink in the Far Eastern city of Yuzhny-Sakhalinsk this weekend.
"Thanks for inviting me, this is the first time we've been this far away," Plushenko said Friday. "We must develop our cause, figure skating, and support sport for young people."
Plushenko had to miss the world championships in March after a hernia ended his quest for an eighth European title in January.
He withdrew from that event in Zagreb after an injury-hindered skate left him sixth following the short program.
Plushenko, who is on a path he hopes will culminate in a gold medal at his home Olympics in Sochi next year, has since become embroiled in a bitter spat with a Eurosport commentator whom Plushenko accuses of slander.
Broadcaster Andrei Zhurankov suggested that Plushenko had fabricated a story about having back surgery in Israel as an excuse for the Zagreb flop.
Plushenko, a three-time world champion, has filed a second slander complaint to Russian police after having the first one rejected.