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Plushenko Leaps Into Lead at Russian Figure Skating Nationals

© RIA Novosti . Alexander Vilf / Go to the photo bankEvgeny Plushenko
Evgeny Plushenko - Sputnik International
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Evgeny Plushenko skated a flawless short program to take the lead at the Russian national figure skating championships, and pole position in the race to represent Russia at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

SOCHI, December 24 (R-Sport) – Evgeny Plushenko skated a flawless short program to take the lead at the Russian national figure skating championships, and pole position in the race to represent Russia at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The Turin 2006 Olympic gold medallist looked like the champion of old as he scored 98.41 points in the Russian nationals, the first of two events that could decide whether he or 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun is chosen as Russia’s sole competitor in the men’s event in Sochi in February.

Kovtun was second with 93.08 after landing two quadruple jumps and Sergei Voronov was third on 89.10 points.

“I’m happy with my skate today because I did everything that I planned to,” said Plushenko, 31, a three-time world champion. “I did a quad-triple combination, which was very important for me. I think the jumps were very good.

“The only thing I need to work on is the spins. I need to add a little bit because they were very weak today.”

Plushenko has skated just twice before in competition this year. At January’s European championships he was forced to withdraw with a back injury that kept him off the ice for most of the year.

He made his return at last month’s Volvo Open Cup in Riga, which he won against low-rated competition.

Kovtun has emerged as a top-level skater this season, finishing second at two Grand Prix events, the Cup of China and the Cup of Russia, as well as fifth at the Grand Prix Finals.

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