Russian Figure Skater Evgeni Plushenko Abruptly Withdraws From Olympics, Retires

Evgeny Plyushchenko of Russia at Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
Veteran Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko abruptly withdrew from the men's competition at the Sochi Olympics and then announced his retirement Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Russian Olympian Evgeni Plushenko has done his last triple axel. The 31-year-old figure skater's career came to an abrupt end on Thursday, Feb. 13, when he withdrew from the men's event at the Sochi Winter Olympics and then retired from skating altogether.

Plushenko, a four-time Olympic medalist, has a chronic bad back, which he aggravated in practice on Wednesday. According to the Associated Press, he struggled visibly in warmups before the short program, later saying it felt "like a knife in [his] back" when he fell on a jump.

Seconds after his name was announced in competition, the AP reports, he skated over to the judges' table to withdraw, then turned to the crowd with both arms raised in acknowledgement. He announced his retirement a short time later.

"I think it's God saying, 'Evgeni, enough, enough with skating," Plushenko is quoted as saying. "[My] age, it's okay. But I have 12 surgeries. I'd like to be healthy."

The news comes just days after the athlete helped his country win team gold. The medal was his fourth in four Olympics; he also won individual gold at the 2006 Torino Games, and silver at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and the 2010 Vancouver Games, both for his singles skate.

"This is not tragedy what happened with Evgeni," his coach Alexei Mishin said. "I was with him 20 years. Mostly we have good success. Mostly he was a winner."

For more on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi — including personal stories from the Team USA athletes, and tons of photos — pick up Us Weekly's special Olympics bookazine!

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