Plushenko on thin ice after Olympic dropout

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AP Photo/Paul Chiasson

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Just four days after being praised as a hero for helping Russia win its first gold at the Sochi Olympics, Evgeni Plushenko is taking criticism for dropping out of the men’s figure skating.

Plushenko’s strong performance in the team event brought wide accolades for his determination to overcome injury. But on Thursday he withdrew before the men’s short program, complaining of severe spinal pain during the warmup.

Plushenko was Russia’s only men singles skater in Sochi. He won the slot in a closed exhibition skate that cut out Maxim Kovtun, who beat him in the Russian nationals.

Among his critics Friday was rival Alexei Yagudin, the 2002 Olympic gold medal. He told the R-Sport news agency he supports “people who go to the end.”

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