Faultless Plushenko Sets Russia Hurtling Toward Team Gold
Published: February 10, 2014 (Issue # 1796)
Russia’s ageless figure skating hero Evgeny Plushenko won the men’s free skate in the Sochi Olympic team event on Sunday to send the home country hurtling toward a first gold medal.
The victory in front of a partisan Iceberg Skating Arena crowd on the Black Sea coast gave Russia a maximum ten points, which extends the nation’s cushion over Canada at the top of the standings to a seven points with two events remaining.
Plushenko, 31, picked up where he left off on Thursday, when the Turin Olympic champion rolled back the years to finish second in the short program to Japanese star Yuzuru Hanyu.
Related: Plushenko Proves Ready for Individuals at Sochi
Skating to the “Best of Plushenko,” a medley of accompaniments past, an unflinching Plushenko nailed jump after jump that began with a confident quadruple toeloop as strains of "The Godfather" rang out. The judges' score was 168.20.
Patrick Chan’s replacement for Canada, Kevin Reynolds, fell on a triple axel early in his nonetheless impressive program and earned 167.92 for second place. Third place on the night went to Japan's Tatsuki Machina with 165.85.
The result leaves the gold medal tangibly within Russia’s grasp, with 15-year-old prodigy Julia Liptnitskaia set to go in the women’s free program later before European silver medalists Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov look to lock down first place in the ice dance.