Yevgeny Plushenko predicts best-ever Olympics in figure skating for 2018


MOSCOW (AP) – Figure skating legend Yevgeny Plushenko predicts that next month’s Olympic figure skating competition in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be the best ever.

Citing the proliferation of quad jumps among the men and top skaters’ fights with injury, two-time Olympic gold medalist Plushenko says there’s “lots of suspense. The Olympics are going to be crazy.”

The 35-year-old Russian, who last competed in 2014, says he’s thrilled to watch the men’s quads.

As recently as 2010, Evan Lysacek beat Plushenko to Olympic gold without a single quad, but this season the U.S. skater Nathan Chen became the first man to land five quads in a single program.

“It’s incredibly difficult, the quad, the most difficult element in figure skating, and it works out for some people and not others. It’s very interesting,” Plushenko said Wednesday.

“It’s going to be the most interesting Olympics in history. Yuzuru Hanyu, Nathan Chen, Shoma Uno, Javier Fernandez, our athletes. It’s going to be really interesting. And there are leaders who are injured, and whether they can get healthy in time. It’s going to be very interesting. Lots of suspense, the Olympics are going to be crazy.”

Among the skaters who have struggled with injury this season are 2014 Olympic men’s gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and the two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia. Both missed last month’s Grand Prix Final due to injury.

With Spain’s Javier Fernandez chasing his sixth consecutive European title in Moscow this week and a first Olympic medal in Pyeongchang next month, Plushenko praised his psychological strength.

“It’s very difficult,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure on him, but well done to him for coping.”

Plushenko was disappointed with the Russian men at the European championships after Dmitry Aliev finished second to Fernandez in Wednesday’s short program, with Mikhail Kolyada fourth and Alexander Samarin ninth.

“I’d counted on our young guys skating cleaner here at home,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure and obviously they all did their best, but it didn’t work out.”

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