SOCHI, February 22 (R-Sport) – Two-time Olympic champion figure skater Evgeny Plushenko will undergo more surgery on his back next month, Russian TV reported Saturday.
Plushenko won his second career Olympic gold medal with Russia in the inaugurual team event, but then dramatically withdrew from the individual competition with a back injury last week, just minutes before he was due to skate.
According to state-owned Channel One TV, following a jump in the warm-up to the event, a screw in Plushenko's back that supported an artificial intevertebral disc broke.
"It is a one-piece screw and it just broke,” said doctor Ilya Pekarsky, who operated on Plushenko last year. “In order to extract it, we need to partially remove vertebra and it gives the patient more pain and complicates my work."
Plushenko's last-minute pullout caused a firestorm of controversy in his home nation. Concerns were high before the Games that his fitness - in doubt due to 12 operations on his back and knee in the last few years - wouldn't allow him to skate four programs in eight days. Many were lobbying for 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun to go in his place.
On Tuesday, Plushenko backtracked on an earlier statement he would retire, saying he may try to reach the next Winter Games in Pyeongchang, when he would be 35 years of age, far older than any current elite-level skater.