Plushenko sets early tone in Russia

AFP-JIJI

Russia’s 2006 Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko grabbed the lead in the men’s competition at the Russian figure skating championships on Tuesday at the venue in Sochi where he hopes to crown his career with a second Olympic title in 2014.

The 30-year-old former three-time world champion, who is bidding for his 10th national title at the newly-built 12,000-seat Iceberg arena, received 91.68 points for his short programme.

He is 3.99 points ahead of Sergei Voronov, who is second after the short programme, while Maxim Kovtun is third after the first day of the championships with 75.38 points.

Plushenko said that even after returning from a second knee operation — which he underwent after winning the European title in January ruling him out of March’s world championships — he still doesn’t feel 100 percent.

“I still experience certain health problems but I hope I can cope with them,” Plushenko said.

“The Russian championships is a very important tournament for me and I hope to win it for the 10th time.

“I will do everything I can in my power to win here.”

In the pairs competition the European champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, who won the Grand Prix finals earlier this month, took the lead after the first day with 78.69 points.

They are 8.5 points ahead of Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov, while Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov are third on 67.78 points.