Evgeny Plyushchenko of Russia celebrates after competing in the men's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)Evgeny Plyushchenko of Russia celebrates after competing in the men's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia
Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu gave his country the lead after the men's short program in the inaugural team figure skating event. The 19-year-old hit a huge quadruple toe loop, triple Axel and triple Lutz combination in his casual but confident routine, scoring 97.98 points. Japan will need the 10 team points from Hanyu's first-place performance as its pair and ice dance teams aren't as strong.
After a year away from competition, three-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko placed an impressive second.
The 31-year-old Russian landed a clean quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, triple Axel and triple Lutz before really hamming up to the home crowd. His 91.39 score was a personal best. "It felt great," Plushenko told reporters." I feel so happy."
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Reigning world champion Patrick Chan of Canada downgraded his quadruple-triple combination to a quadruple-double, and stepped out of his triple Axel. However, Chan's superb skating skills helped bolster his score of 89.71.
Reigning U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott had a disappointing start to his second Olympics. Abbott fell on his opening quadruple toe loop and later popped his Axel to a single. He looked dejected in the kiss-and-cry area. "There are times when you say you wish you could do it again. I feel that way now," the 28-year-old said afterwards. Team USA is currently in seventh place and will have to make up lots of ground.
The standings after the men's short program:
1. Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan) - 97.98
2. Evgeni Plushenko (Russia) - 91.39
3. Patrick Chan (Canada) - 89.71
4. Yan Han (China) - 85.52
5. Florent Amodio (France) - 79.93
6. Peter Liebers (Germany) - 79.61
7. Jeremy Abbott (USA) - 65.65
8. Yakov Godorozha (Ukraine) - 60.51
9. Matthew Parr (Great Britain) - 57.40
10. Paul Bonifacio Parkinson (Italy) - 53.94
The team competition continues with the pairs short program.