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Plushenko leads at comeback event

Nov 7, 2013, 4:08 PM EDT

Yevgeny Plushenko AP

Thirty-one-year-old Yevgeny Plushenko made his comeback a reality Thursday at a small event in Riga, Latvia, the 2006 Olympic champion skating at the Volvo Cup.

Plushenko, who also won the silver medal at the 2002 and 2010 Games, led after the short program with a 82.34, nearly nine points better than the second-place skater, his countryman Aleksander Petrov.

Plushenko has not competed since pulling out of the European Championships earlier this year after the short program. He won the 2013 Russian National Championships, as well as the Europeans in 2012.

Riga is a lower-level, Senior B event, but enables Plushenko to register an international score that he is in need of in order to be eligible for the Sochi Olympics. He is slated to compete at the Grand Prix stop in Moscow Nov. 22-24, the Rostelecom Cup.

The Russian Olympic team Web site reported that Plushenko landed a triple toe loop, a triple Axel and a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination.

Of the three Grand Prixs held so far in 2013 (and excluding other Senior B events), Plushenko has the fifth-highest short program score of the season. Japan’s Tatsuki Machida has the highest, a 91.18 at Skate America in October. Three-time reigning world champion Patrick Chan registered an 88.10 at Skate Canada.

Russia has one men’s singles spot at the Sochi Games, and should Plushenko be healthy he is thought to be rewarded it if he does register a qualifying score.

Plushenko aims for comeback at small event

Plushenko’s comeback was breaking news in his home country: