Senior Manager@tlcm_16 When I woke up to watch the Men's Short Program in figure skating this morning at the Sochi Olympics I was ready to see Evgeni Plushenko perform in his 5th Olympic singles competition. For many he was the 'Russian Legend' - one of the few, if not the only, man left from the so-called figure skating old school, with 4 Olympic medals under his belt coming into this competition, he helped lead his home country into the history books, with Russia winning the inaugural Gold Medal in the team figure skating competition. Along with Canada's Patrick Chan, Evgeni was definitely in the top favourites to place near the top of the standings in what will be his final Olympic games. So when he took the ice this morning to warm up for his short program as part of the second flight of skaters, the hometown crowd was ready to cheer loud and proud. Going into the men's competition, TSN announcers made point to mention that in talking with Plushenko's coach earlier this week, Evgeni's routine involved many ice packs and pain in his knee (on which he's been rumoured to have as many as 12 surgeries) as well as in his back - in which he still had screws from surgery in early 2013. As he skated the warm-up it took an unusual 2 minutes (of the 5 allotted) for the Russian skater to attempt a jump. The first he pulled off cleanly but the second he faltered on, stepping out of the landing after it looked like he hurt his back. As the warm-up ended and Evgeni took the ice solo and slowly skated around the surface, not wanting to take his starting position and the crowd grew silent. What happened next was nothing short of heart-breaking to the Russian-heavy audience as Plushenko made his way over to the judges. He spoke briefly with the referee before skating back over to centre ice and waving and bowing to the audience as the announcement was made that the hometown favourite had withdrawn from the competition. The audience cheered for their hero before falling silent once again. As Plushenko skated off the ice it was clear that the veteran was in pain as his coach, Alexei Mishin, had catch him for support. As a figure skating fan I know this is not how Evgeni Plushenko wanted to finish his figure skating career at the Olympics but hopefully we can remember him as what he truly is, a Russian powerhouse in the sport of figure skating who at the age of 31, had a career spanning over 2 decades. With Russia's one and only seed out of the men's competition it leaves a position open near the top for China and the United States, both whom just missed top three finishes in the team event (where Russia, Canada and Japan took the men's top 3). The unfortunate thing is that if Plushenko had pulled out of the men's competition after the team event on Sunday, he could have been replaced with Maxim Kovtun, who actually beat Evgeni at the Russian Nationals competition last year. But the Russian officials opted to send Plushenko because of Kovtun's track record of inconsistency in competitions. What do you think of this figure skating shocker?? Stay with PopWrapped for more on this story!
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