Plushenko, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist, surprisingly withdrew from the men’s event at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, choosing instead to spend his ice time waving to fans.
The 31-year-old — ancient in the world of figure skating — came out of retirement for these Olympics in his home country and helped lead Russia to a gold medal in the inaugural team competition. Plushenko aggravated a chronic back injury during competition, however, and although he initially announced he would go through with the individual event, he decided shortly before his heat that the pain was too much.
“[Thursday] in the morning, I can’t jump … but I said to myself, ‘Evgeni, you must skate. You must. You need two more days, the short and the long program,’ ” Plushenko said, via USA Today. “And I came on the warm-up and … I felt it, like knife in the back.
“I think it’s God saying, ‘Evgeni, enough. Enough to skate. You did a lot of figure skating.’ “
Plushenko announced that this will mark the end of his amateur career, which included four Olympic medals, seven European championships and three world championships.
“This is not tragedy what happened with Evgeni,” said Plushenko’s coach, Alexei Mishin. “I was with him 20 years. Mostly we have good success. Mostly he was a winner.”
Click here for video of Plushenko’s emotional end, courtesy of Deadspin.