Plushenko had decided to come to Zagreb only on Friday as he is still battling a back injury. His condition had not improved since Russian Nationals and it was obvious in practice that he was not at a 100 percent. In the short, the 2006 Olympic Champion opted for the triple Lutz instead of the quad toe, but the landing was shaky.
The bigger mistake, however, came when the 30-year-old fell on the triple Axel, although he recovered to land a triple loop-triple toe combination. Two spins were a level three while the change sit spin got a level four, but the footwork merited only a level two. The seven-time European Champion earned 74.82 (35.46/40.36) points.
“It wasn’t a magic day today,” Plushenko observed. “I fell on the triple Axel. Maybe I rushed it, maybe I wasn’t completely focused. When we got here to the ice rink, we decided not to go for the quad toe but for the triple Lutz instead, and maybe I didn’t fully switch my focus.”
“The fall on the triple Axel is an unforgivable mistake for me,” the three-time Olympic medalist told the press. “It wasn’t the injury, it wasn’t my back. I missed an easy element for me. I need to do the triple Axel with my eyes closed.”
His right hand was bloody as he cut it while tying his laces right before he skated. Right after the end of the short program Plushenko withdrew as he suffered an aggravation of his chronic back condition.