WASHINGTON — Evgeni Plushenko and Tim Goebel leave the World Figure Skating Championships happy men, having gotten exactly what they came for Thursday night. Plushenko has his world title and Goebel owns a silver medal, duplicating his finish last year. Takeshi Honda of Japan won the bronze medal.
Plushenko and fellow Russian Alexei Yagudin have battled for supremacy since 1998, with everyone else in the world a distant third behind them. Plushenko appeared to surpass Yagudin in 2001, when he took away Yagudin's world title.
But Yagudin had a magical 2002, winning the Olympic gold medal and a fifth world title with the kind of performances that transcend the sport. Plushenko, the Olympic silver medalist, was a mere afterthought, another skater in Yagudin's wake.
But with Yagudin out this season because of a hip injury, it was Plushenko's turn to shine. He won every major competition he entered, and his difficult tricks set the bar even higher for everyone below him.
Goebel found some answers this week, too. His season had been a disaster.