Hanyu tops field after short program; Plushenko withdraws

The Sports NetworkFebruary 13, 2014 

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Even an incredible score by an up-and- comer couldn't take the spotlight away from Russia's Yevgeny Plushenko.

Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu led the field following the men's figure skating short program on Thursday at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but much of the focus was on the early exit of Plushenko.

The 31-year-old veteran warmed up and was set to go seventh in the event, but did not skate and appeared to be holding his back. After talking to the judges, he gave the crowd a wave upon exiting, unable to compete due to injury.

Plushenko has undergone multiple surgeries during his decorated career, including a back procedure in January of last year. However, he still managed to help Russia win team gold last week to claim his fourth Olympic medal.

Plushenko claimed men's gold in 2006 and also took silver in 2002 and four years ago in Vancouver, where he finished second to American Evan Lysacek.

Lysacek was already unable to defend his gold in Sochi due to a torn labrum in his left hip.

Following his exit on Thursday, which leaves Russia without a skater now for this event, Plushenko indicated he will likely retire.

Later in the program, the 19-year-old Hanyu put together an incredible performance that gave him a total score of 101.45 going into Friday's free skate. He finished ahead of Canada's Patrick Chan, a three-time World Champion who is in second with a score of 97.52.

Spain's Javier Fernandez is third with a score of 86.98 as the top 24 skaters qualified for Friday's event.

American Jason Brown moved on with the sixth-best score, a mark of 86.00 that topped his previous personal best of 84.77.

Fellow U.S. skater Jeremy Abbott also advanced, but not without a scare. He hit his right hip hard on the ice due to a fall early in his routine and was down for a brief moment before getting back up and getting in his required seven elements for the program.

Abbott received a loud cheer from the crowd and netted a score of 72.58 for 15th place.

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