Plushenko had a very rare procedure done. That has to take first mention in any review of his potential to even get competitive again. He talks about ballet dancers doing fine after having a disc replaced but this is so different. I believe in a quad you land with 4 times your body weight? Now one of his biological discs had totally degenerated. But who knows what this artificial one will be like after a skater attempts any kind of jump? The ballet dancers who have had it and do well is something to compare it but not like figure skating jump! He's a walking experiment! He really didn't want to have this done before Sochi at all. If its a good disc and works well and everything else holds up, he has a long list of previous ailments, it's not like he doesn't have good technique and isn't a good competitor! You almost have to erase all previous attempts at competition now in some ways. Even recent stuff like Russian nationals 2013 where he did 3A and quads and generally did well, like Euros 2012 too. He can't really do anything until June. Then this experiment with artificial discs and figure skating jumps will be tested.
I doubt Plushenko will win again.. he might be on the podium but that's if he's lucky
I think it would be great if he competed (by earning his spot with a win at Russian nationals)... but the reality is that the men's field is a lot stronger now and his chances are very slim. I didn't count him out in 2010, because he'd never had poor results up until that point, but some past results for Plushenko have certainly shown vulnerability, particularly Euros, as a result of injury.
Another issue is that I don't think he'll get the PCS that Chan or Takahashi are getting, even with perfect skates. It's become way more apparent that the field, as a whole, is much stronger and their programs are much more complex. The only advantage Plushenko had over the field was his jumps and consistency, which the other guys have not only matched but surpassed this season (Chan having consistently landed 2 quads, and Fernandez landing 3, and Hanyu usually landing his 4T and both 3As).
Plushenko could have an outside shot at a medal if the guys bomb like they did at Worlds this year and he goes clean. But I think this Worlds was an anomaly for the guys and they will be much sharper come the Olympics. You can't really base Plushenko doing well off a poor Worlds anyways, because that would be like saying Plushenko bombed at Euros so he's going to skate like that at the Olympics. In other competitions throughout the season, like the GPF, he would have been off the podium.
Really, we will only be able to gauge his chances the next time he hits the ice. You can bet he'll be competitive and do everything in his power to make it to Sochi, but compared to his past Olympics I can't imagine he'll be as successful there.
Is Plushenko back on the ice again?
PS, the consistency of Plushenko is not only referring to landing the quads, but he tends to delivery clean programs. Using Chan as an example for consistency is just a joke, right?
And Plushenko, if healthy, will earn his spot by competing. As long as he can prove he still is number 1 in Russia, why should he back off? Is it logical to send Nr. 2 to Olympics only because Nr. 1 cannot receive great result?
Plushenko himself said many many many times in his recent interviews that he would be happen to be on the podium. He knows the situation, believe or not, his fans also know.
His first step on the ice since January http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...type=1&theater
Two quotes from latest interviews:
"Now doctors can not say I can skate or not. After I installed the vertebral disc of the polymer, which is fastened with screws. So far, very painful to walk. But I can not move. Soon I will go to Israel, will go rehab. Then rest and in May-June start training. I have friends - artists of the Bolshoi Theater, which makes such an operation. These guys jump, perform complex ballet elements. I hope everything will turn out."
In middle of March:
"I'll do my best whatever it takes. It's difficult to predict anything right now, it's 50/50. I want and I am ready to fight but it all depends on my back conditions. I will know in June. The doctor who operated me, and who performed a tons of operations of this kind, told me that it's a must to go through the right rehabilitation course, to recover, not to push things and not to force them. Then evrything will be fine and I'll be able again to skate, to jump and conquer the podiums."
Alexei Mishin: "Plushenko will start with full training from 17th of June" http://t.co/PScwmrZXvR Pinzolo training camp.
"From 2nd of May we will begin to train in "Jubilee" (St. Petersburg) or in Novogorsk, we will only make a program, while fully training will start from 17th of June, "- said Mishin over phone.
To the question, is it possible at the moment to say, that Plushenko's recovered from injury, Mishin said that it's "too early to say" about it.
Plushy's some Italian fans and some girls from several countries used to go Pinzolo. They will report to us.
Today's men aren't consistently strong, but it's really hard to get a clean program with quads, axels, and difficult choreography/spins/intricate footwork -- post-CoP. The inconsistency is due to the higher difficulty. What this men's field attempts would wipe the floor clean, difficulty-wise, compared to any field in history, so obviously they're not going to be the cleanest field in history by any stretch. And frankly, it's unreasonable to expect them to be.
If not Plushenko, then WHO?