SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Evgeni Plushenko didn't get any edge in the draw for Thursday's men's short program at the Sochi Games.
The first four-time Olympic figure skating medalist of the modern era will skate seventh out of 30. Skaters prefer not to go early for fear the judges will score them lower to leave room for succeeding competitors.
Plushenko helped Russia to the team gold by finishing second to Yuzuru Hanyu in the short program of the new competition, then winning the free skate. He won the 2006 gold medal and also has silvers from 2002 and 2010.
There was conjecture the 31-year-old veteran would drop out of the men's event; Russia has only one slot.
But Plushenko made it clear after the team competition that if his doctors gave him the go-ahead — he says he's had 12 operations, and he has been plagued by knee and back problems in recent years — he would remain in the games.
Three of the medals favorites landed in the 19th through 21st spots: Japan's Hanyu, Spain's Javier Fernandez and Canada's Patrick Chan, a three-time world champion.
Hanyu beat Plushenko and Chan in the men's team short program, then the Japanese and Canadian skaters each skipped the free skate portion that Plushenko won.
American champ Jeremy Abbott will go 11th and teammate Jason Brown drew the 16th spot.
Abbott said Tuesday he is eager to atone for a poor seventh-place finish in the short program that put the United States in a bind in the team competition. A strong overall squad lifted the Americans to a bronze medal.