Banned Plushenko still wants to skate in Sochi
By Liu Zhen and Nick Mulvenney
BEIJING (Reuters) - Former Olympic figure skating champion Yevgeny Plushenko is still determined to compete at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics despite the indefinite ban imposed on him last month.
The Russian was banned by the International Skating Union (ISU) for skipping the world championships through injury but then appearing without permission in lucrative exhibitions.
"I would like to skate in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, that's my goal and my dream," the 27-year-old three-times world champion told reporters Friday.
"I'm going to compete in an ISU event in October in Japan. That's my first step and then you will see."
Plushenko is in Beijing to take part in Saturday's "Artistry on Ice," a gala to celebrate the wedding of China's first Olympic champion figure skaters Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo.
His compatriot and fellow former Olympic champion Alexei Yagudin is also taking part and he said he hoped Plushenko would be able to skate on home ice in Sochi.
"From 2002 to 2006, Russian skaters won a lot of events," the 2002 Olympic champion said.
"But right now it's really bad, and we basically see Russian skaters in major events win pretty much nothing except Yevgeny.
"In my opinion, our only hope for winning a medal at the 2014 Winter Games is if Yevgeny returns."
Shen and Zhao came out of retirement to claim the pairs title at the Vancouver Winter Games in February, ending Russia's 46-year dominance of the event.
Yagudin said urgent changes needed to be made at the Russian figure skating federation (RFSF) if things were to improve for the 2014 Olympic hosts.
"We have to make some changes, otherwise it's not going to be good," he said.
(Editing by John O'Brien)
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