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Olympics day 7: Plushenko retires, medals in luge and biathlon, hockey begins

On Thursday, Team Russia collected a silver in luge team relay and bronze in biathlon individual men’s race to its medal count. However, the team lost a chance for another medal in figure skating when Evgeni Plushenko withdrew from the event and retired from competition.

Russia’s Evgeni Garanichev won bronze in the biathlon 20 km individual race. Source: Reutes

Viktoria Kolechnichenko, special to RBTH

Six sets of medals were up for grabs in Sochi on Feb. 13 along with additional qualifying rounds. Despite some successes, at the end of the day, Russia still ranked 7th in the medal table.

Speed skating

Three stages in short track speed skating were held and the Russian team lived up to expectation, winning their heats in both the 5000m quarterfinals and semifinals.  

Led by Viktor Ahn, the Russians defeated the Chinese and Italian teams. In the finals, scheduled for Feb. 21, the Russian squad will face off against teams from the United States, China, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan. Two other strong contenders, Canada and Korea failed to make the finals after crashes in the semifinal round.

 Curling

The Russian men's curling team made a real breakthrough on Feb. 13, beating the Swiss 7:6 in the Ice Cube curling arena. The Swiss team held a comfortable lead throughout most of the game, but in the 10th end, the Russians managed to claw back four stones. This is the first victory in a curling round tournament for the Russian men’s team since the discipline was included in the Olympic program.

Hockey

The eagerly awaited hockey tournament has finally started. Team Russia defeated Slovenia 5:2 (2:0, 1:2, 2:0) in its opener. Alexander Ovechkin scored the first goal barely two minutes into the game. Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Valery Nichushkin and Anton Belov also scored one goal each.

Russian team coach Zinetulla Bilyaletdinov was cautious in his analysis of the game.

 “The match has demonstrated that we need to sort our game out as soon as possible and eliminate the things that aren’t helping us,” Bilyaletdinov said. He added, however, that he was not planning any replacements for the next match.

 Luge

Russia’s luge relay team included two single riders, Tatiana Ivanova and Albert Demchenko, and the pair of Alexander Denisev and Vladislav Antonov. The Russian team finished second, just over a second behind Germany, to take the silver medal. The Latvian team took bronze.

Bialthon 

Russia’s Evgeni Garanichev won bronze in the biathlon 20 km individual race. France’s Martin Fourcade was the first to cross the finishing line, followed by Germany’s Erik Lesser. Garanich’s bronze is the 10th medal for Team Russia so far.

Figure Skating

The men’s figure skating program, meanwhile, was overshadowed by Evgeni Plushenko’s decision to withdraw from the even after developing severe back pain during training.

Plushenko’s coach, Alexei Mishin, explained the decision: "After the team event he felt a discomfort, but it wasn’t too bad, so we decided to carry on. But yesterday he crashed several times doing his quadruple jump; one of those falls was really bad. He kept skating despite the pain, but today he just couldn't continue.”

Plushenko later announced that he will quit competitive skating, saying that “12 surgeries so far are simply too much.” Nevertheless, he plans to continue skating professionally. "I will be part of a skating show; I am now working on a new program," Plushenko said.

Plushenko was Russia’s only representative in men’s singles, and he pulled out too late to be replaced, so Russia is out of contention for a medal in the event.

Volunteers 

Outside of competition, a bobsled smashed into a course worker during a training session, breaking the volunteer’s legs. The incident happened at the deceleration part of the track.

The Organizational Committee and the press service of the arena have not made any comments. The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation, which monitors the competitive events and training sessions at the Olympics, is expected to make an official statement.

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