MOSCOW – Yevgeny Plushenko’s failure to defend his Winter Olympics figure skating title sparked a furious backlash in Russia Friday with accusing fingers being pointed at the judging system in Vancouver.
Even Prime Minister Vladimir Putin weighed in, saying Plushenko’s silver medal finish “was worth a gold medal”, while others decried injustice and called for officials to “protect the honour” of Russian athletes.
“Accept my heartfelt congratulations,” Putin said in a telegram sent to the skater and published on the Russian government Web site.
Plushenko too slammed Olympic judges and threatened to quit.
“I am not prepared to skate well and lose,” Plushenko complained, RIA-Novosti reported.
The Russian skater said his opening with a tricky quadruple-triple toeloop was not adequately scored by the judges who instead gave better marks to Lysacek though he did not include a quadruple jump in his programme.
“This is men’s figure skating – not ice dancing,” Plushenko said.
The Russian, who has won both Olympic gold and silver medals previously in men’s figure skating, and who was favoured to take gold in Vancouver, said he may retire from competitive skating following his second-place finish.
Russia, usually near the top of the rankings in Olympic medals tables but this year not even in the top 10, is due to host the next Winter Olympics in its southern city of Sochi in 2014.