Updates from Saturday, Feb. 22
According to a report from the Associated Press, Plushenko will have a second surgery in March:
Four-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko will have back surgery on March 2.
Plushenko, 31, withdrew from the men's figure skating short program at the Sochi Games just days after helping Russia win the team gold. He warmed up for the event on Feb. 13 and then dropped out, leaving the host nation with no competitor.
The 2006 gold medalist has a history of injuries and fought several physical problems throughout his career. He says he has had 12 surgeries.
The upcoming operation will repair a screw in his back that snapped. The screw supported a disk.
Updates from Tuesday, Feb. 18
According to a report from Rsport, Plushenko may not rule out a return in 2018:
"Here's what I want to do," Plushenko said on a chat show on Russia's biggest TV network, Channel One. "Recover completely, and if necessary do another 10 operations," he said.
"I'll skip a couple of seasons, I'll learn another couple quads and come back to competition," he said in reference to the four-spin element that's required to compete with the top skaters.
"That is to say, not return, but stay (in sport). I don't exclude the possibility that I want to remain in sport, to prove it to many people and to myself. I don't rule out that there will be a fifth Olympics," he added.
"I don't want to retire from sport, maybe I'll still skate," he said.
Updates from Sunday, Feb. 16
Lynn Rutherford of Icenetwork.com provides the latest on Evgeni Plushenko after sustaining a back injury that has knocked him out of the 2014 Sochi Olympics:
Evgeni Plushenko is one of the most decorated Russian Winter Olympians ever, but it is possible that the two-time gold medalist has performed his final skate on the Olympic stage.
According to Joe Lago of Yahoo! Sports, Plushenko decided to withdraw prior to the men's singles figure skating short program due to an apparent back injury:
The legendary skater talked to NBC about the decision to withdraw, according to NBC's Olympic Twitter feed:
The skater announced his retirement after the withdrawal, according to Barry Wilner of the Associated Press (via Yahoo! News):
"I think it's God saying, 'Evgeni, enough, enough with skating,'" said Plushenko, who originally was hurt in a training session Wednesday. "Age, it's OK. But I have 12 surgeries. I'd like to be healthy."
In warmups before the short program, he fell on a triple axel and said it felt "like a knife in my back." He skated toward his coaches while bent over, then tried to loosen up by skating around the Iceberg rink some more.
He then attempted another axel and botched it, shook his head and consulted with coach Alexei Mishin. When Plushenko's name was announced to the crowd seconds later — to loud applause — he skated to the event referee and withdrew.
Plushenko has won one gold and two silver medals in singles skating at the Winter Games since the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, but there were plenty of question marks surrounding the 31-year-old veteran's Sochi status.
His back was an issue heading into the Olympics, but he still played an integral role in Russia, capturing the first ever team figure skating gold medal. Plushenko captivated the judges and the partisan crowd by finishing first in the team free skate and second in the team short program.
They were heroic performances by Plushenko at less than 100 percent, and he initially intended to compete in the men's event, according to his agent Ari Zakarian in an interview with Nancy Armour of USA Today:
Of course he has a lot of issues with his health. He put up a lot of pressure with these programs in last two days. But he's going to try and go forward because he feels that he cannot just give up in front of the nation and in front of his friends. Even though he knows the situation is very difficult for him ... he's going to go to the next step.
According to Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com, the Russian crowd was shocked and saddened by his decision to withdraw:
It remains to be seen what is next for Plushenko after retirement, but his run at the 2014 Winter Olympics is officially over.
If Thursday truly did mark the end of Plushenko's skating career, then at least it happened in front of his adoring fans.
As much as he probably would have loved to cap things off with a medal in the singles competition, he came through for his country in the team event and cemented his status as one of the greatest male figure skaters of all time.
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