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Russian star in golden form at Cup

MOSCOW — Evgeni Plushenko of Russia won gold at the Rostelecom Cup on Saturday after a soaring free skate in his first international event since becoming Olympic champion at the 2006 Turin Games.

Miki Ando of Japan prevailed in the women’s event, while Ashley Wagner of the United States rose from fifth after the short program to take silver. Alena Leonova of Russia, the world juniors champion, took bronze for her first Grand Prix medal.

Plushenko performed only one quad, limited by his old standards, but combined it with a triple toeloop to open his program with unquestionable brio.

Takahiko Kozuka of Japan took silver and Artem Borodulin of Russia won bronze, his first Grand Prix medal. American Johnny Weir had an error-filled program that dropped him to sixth place in the free skate and fourth overall.

Weir was in trouble from the opening seconds, when his planned toeloop was replaced with a triple flip. He doubled two subsequent triple axels and ended the program by taking many seconds to raise himself from a kneeling position.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States won gold in ice dancing. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy won the silver, followed by Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer of Russia.

Plushenko, 26, chose tango music for his flirtatious and challenging stop-start moves in the step sequences, playing up the confidence he projects on the ice. But he wasn’t inclined to let overconfidence undermine his discipline.

“I have to work on my spins, work on my steps,” he said.

Plushenko, who’s had chronic knee problems, returned to figure skating to help Russia turn around its plummeting fortunes in the sport.

Kozuka, whose own quad was downgraded after he stepped out of it, was pleased with his program but felt Plushenko’s dominance early.

“The moment he took the ice, I knew there was a real champion in front of me,” said the 20-year Kozuka, whose free program to an electric guitar concerto showed impressive speed and tight-sit spins.

Borodulin was close behind Weir going into the free skate and admitted that the possibility of beating the American, who has numerous fans in Russia, was daunting.

Borodulin opened with a solid triple axel-triple toe combo, then fell on a triple axel. But he recovered and included a triple-double-double cascade.

Brandon Mroz of the United States was fourth in the free skate and finished seventh overall.

Ando fell on a double axel-triple toe combination, but landed a triple-double-double.

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