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Olympics-Figure skating-Hanyu sets record as Plushenko pulls out

Reuters

SOCHI, Russia, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Japanese teenager Yuzuru Hanyu notched up a world record score in the men's figure skating short programme on Thursday as he won over a crowd stunned by the withdrawal of home favourite Yevgeny Plushenko.

Russian showman Plushenko lived up to his reputation for drama by dropping out of the contest at the 11th hour.

Instead of taking up his starting position as the home fans chanted his name, he veered towards officials to register an injury that brought an end to his Sochi Games.

The 31-year-old's dramatic exit from his fourth Olympics saved him from trying to match the record-breaking performance of Hanyu and rival Patrick Chan of Canada, who finished first and second in the segment. Spain's Javier Fernandez was third.

"It is God saying, 'Yevgeny, enough," Plushenko said of what he described as crippling back pain.

Unfazed by the chaos sparked by the skating great's retirement, Hanyu twirled and leaped to a world record score of 101.45 in the men's segment.

"I was so surprised by my score... more than 100," Hanyu beamed after skating to Parisian Walkways by Gary Moore.

The slender youngster, clad in a flowing tie-dye shirt, synched his fast-paced footwork and high-flying jumps to electric guitar music and triumphantly raised his fists after nailing a quadruple toeloop and triple Axel in close succession.

"My legs were shaking a little bit... I was really, really nervous," said the 19-year-old, although the audience would never have known given the quality of his performance.

Chan's bobble on his triple Axel, as he skated with subdued artistry to Rachmaninov's Elegie in E Flat Minor, left him almost four points behind Hanyu despite an otherwise flawless skate on 97.52 with Fernandez adrift on 86.98.

Chan over-rotated on the Axel, taking too much air and stepping out of the landing to keep himself upright.

But the Canadian triple world champion, who has been neck-and-neck with Hanyu all season, said he felt confident he could make up the points in the long programme.

"I like being second, I like being in the chase," Chan told reporters.

"The long programme can change a lot of things. Neither of us has done it in competition in front of these judges." (Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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