December 25 - Russia's former Olympic figure skating champion Evgeni Plushenko announced today he will not seek to contest the men's singles individual event at Sochi 2014, preferring instead to concentrate on the new team competition.
It followed his defeat to 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun at the Russian Championships in Sochi.
The decision by the 31-year-old from St Petersburg, winner of the Olympic title at Turin 2006, means Kovtun will probably take Russia's only slot in the men's event at Sochi 204.
"I think that I will select the team event and cede my spot in the men's competition to a young athlete," Plushenko told Russian news agency R-Sport after finishing second to Kovtun.
"I understand everything adequately.
Plushenko had also won Olympic silver medals at Salt Lake City 2002 and Vancouver 2010, being beaten on that occasion by American rival Evan Lysacek, losing controversially by 1.31 points even though he performed a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, which he believed meant he deserved to win.
Lysacek announced earlier this month that he would not defend his title at Sochi 2014 because of injury.
If Plushenko had won a medal in the men's singles at Sochi 2014 he would have matched the record of Sweden's Gillis Grafström as the only skater to stand on the podium at four consecutive Olympics.
He had managed the feat between 1920 and 1932, winning three gold and a silver.
Following Vancouver Plushenko was briefly stripped of his Olympic eligibility by the International Skating Union (ISU) because he took part in shows allegedly without the Russian Skating Federation's permission after withdrawing from the World Championships.
Plushenko was reinstated by the ISU in June 2011 and won a record seventh European Championships title at Sheffield in 2012.
He will not seek an eighth at next month's event in Budapest following his defeat today by Kovtun, who won despite Plushenko having led after the short programme.
If Plushenko had beaten Kovtun in the Hungarian capital he would probably have been given Russia's place at Sochi 2014.
But he will still have an outstanding chance of a medal at Sochi 2014 as Russia will be among the favourites to claim the title when the team event makes its debut on the Olympic programme.
The competition will see six skaters, consisting of ice dance and pairs couples plus male and female singles competitors, competing separately before their points are combined for an overall team score.
Russia are currently ranked second in the world behind Canada.
Contact the writer of this story at duncan.ma[email protected]
January 2012: Plushenko gives Sochi 2014 hopes boost with Sheffield gold medal
June 2011: Plushenko given green light for Sochi 2014
June 2010: Plushenko banned from Sochi 2014 by International Skating Union
February 2010: Plushenko signs up to be face of Sochi 2014
February 2010: Plushenko promises to carry on until Sochi 2014