SOCHI, Russia, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Yevgeny Plushenko made a triumphant comeback at the Russian figure skating championships on Wednesday when he eased to his 10th national men’s title in his first competition in nearly a year.
The 30-year-old, widely regarded as the most gifted skater of his generation, said he was looking forward to returning to Sochi in February 2014 when the Black Sea resort will host the Winter Olympics.
“This is my first competition in a long time so I’m quite happy with my performance here,” Plushenko, who won both the short programme on Tuesday and Wednesday’s free skate, told reporters at the Iceberg Olympic arena.
“Today I felt pain in my back and my legs were heavy. It was much harder than yesterday, I had to fight to finish my routine. Now I need at least two days to recuperate.”
The 2006 Olympic champion has not competed since clinching his seventh European crown in Sheffield, England, in January. He underwent a successful knee surgery the following month.
The flamboyant Russian, who controversially lost the 2010 Olympic title to American Evan Lysacek, said he was planning to compete at next month’s European championships in Zagreb as well as the 2013 world championships in London, Ontario, in March.
“Of course, everything depends on my health but right now that is my goal. I know I have to skate much better to have any chance of winning either one,” he said.
“But the main thing is to be ready next season. I’m looking forward to coming back here, to this arena in 2014. The atmosphere is great. You’re already feeling the Olympic spirit.” (Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov in Moscow)