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Plushenko to the critics: “Thank you very much”

Sochi Olympics Figure Skating

Evgeni Plushenko of Russia celebrates after competing in the men’s team free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

David J. Phillip

After weeks of chatter about whether he truly deserved to be on the Russian figure skating team during the Sochi Olympics, Yevgeny Plushenko has responded loud and clear.

The former Olympic champion has helped power Russia in the inaugural Olympic team figure skating competition, turning in a second-place performance in the men’s short program and claiming first in today’s men’s free skate to help the host nation stay atop the standings.

Not a bad way to answer his critics, for whom he had a message during a post-skate interview today with NBC’s Andrea Joyce: “Thank you very much.”

Short. And undoubtedly sweet for him.

But even though he’s seemingly turned back the clock with his effort so far in Sochi, he indicated to Joyce that he does have some pain in his back - noting that he’ll be glad to have a day off before preparing for the individual competition that starts on Thursday for the men.

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Health has not been a completely strong suit for Plushenko, as he’s endured through two spinal surgeries and two knee surgeries over the last two years alone.

Nonetheless, he appears to be in strong form as he seeks to become the second figure skater in Olympic history to claim four medals.

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