Evgeni Plushenko of Russia leaves the ice after pulling out of the men's short program figure skating competition due to illness at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

SOCHI SCENE: Plushenko's swan song

February 13, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) Evgeni Plushenko, 31, looked like he was 25 when he helped lead the Russians to their first gold of the Sochi Games in team figure skating last weekend.

On Thursday, the four-time medalist seemed much older.

His back gave out during warmups before the men's figure skating competition. As you can see in these photos by Associated Press photographers Ivan Sekretarev and Darron Cummings, Plushenko hunched over in pain after falling on a triple axel jump and gingerly glided over to his coaches for a consultation.

When he couldn't get it loosened up, he had to withdraw, ending his pursuit of a fifth medal. Shortly afterward, he announced his retirement.

The pain and disappointment on his face is obvious as he skates off the rink in front of thousands of Russian fans, a heart-breaking end to a Sochi Olympics that started with so much joy.

- By Jon Krawczynski - Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski

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Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu

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