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Four days after being praised as a hero for helping Russia win its first gold at the Sochi Olympics, Evgeni Plushenko was taking criticism Friday for dropping out of the mens figure skating. Plushenkos strong performance in the team event brought wide accolades for his determination to overcome injury. But on Thursday he withdrew before the mens short program, complaining of severe spinal pain during the warmup. Plushenko was Russias only men singles skater in Sochi. He won the slot in a closed exhibition skate that cut out Maxim Kovtun, who beat him in the Russian nationals. Among his critics was longtime rival Alexei Yagudin, the 2002 Olympic gold medalist. He told the R-Sport news agency he supports "people who go to the end." "I think Zhenya will understand my words," he said, using the familiar version of Plushenkos name. "We always competed through the pain." The choice of Plushenko as the sole Russian man was debatable. Although he was the dominant skater the past 15 years, with an Olympic gold and two silvers before coming to Sochi, he is 31-years-old and underwent back surgery a year ago. When he was selected, advocates argued his long international experience made him a stronger choice than the 18-year-old Kovtun. Decision comes under fire But that came under sharp questioning Friday. "You should go when its time," Ruslan Nugmatullin, a former Russian national soccer goalkeeper said on Twitter. "Kovtun earned the right to participate in Sochi2014." Alexei Urmanov, the 1994 Olympic gold-medal winner, suggested that Plushenkos hubris backfired. "Its on the conscience of Zhenya, the team and the federation," he was quoted by R-Sport. To some politicians, Plushenkos withdrawal was a blow to Russias national pride. "Perform through the pain for the honor of the country," Igor Lebedev, a parliament member from the nationalist Liberal Democrats, said on Twitter. Elena Vaitsekhovskaya, the figure skating correspondent for Russias Sport-Express newspaper, seemed weary not only of the intrigue behind Plushenkos selection but also of the appearances of his flamboyant wife, Yana Rudkovskaya, in the mixed zone to support him. "All of this was reminiscent of an incompetently directed stage show," she wrote. "It became harder and harder to sympathize with the athlete." "The one-man show in Sochi has concluded. Real sport has begun," she said in the newspapers Friday edition. But more complaints may still come. "After Sochi, the federation will have to answer for its choice," nationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky said. Eduardo Rodriguez Jersey . On paper, it looks a little like Andre the Giant taking on a midget wrestler. It has all the makings of a rout with the Americans adding an eighth win in nine outings of this biennial event. The Yanks have eight players in the top 15 in the world while the Internationals have just one. Darwinzon Hernandez Red Sox Jersey . Correia pitched six innings of one-run ball, Eduardo Escobar homered, and the Minnesota Twins pulled away late to beat the Colorado Rockies 9-3 on Saturday. https://www.cheapredsox.com/2721z-xander-bogaerts-jersey-red-sox.html .com) - Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau has been selected as the NHLs Rookie of the Month for December, the league announced Friday. Stitched Red Sox Jerseys . Ending a nine-game losing streak? That gave the Milwaukee Bucks veteran forward a reason to smile. Rick Porcello Red Sox Jersey . The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists detailed in a report how Russian and international journalists have been harassed and prevented from covering sensitive stories in Sochi such as the abuse of migrant workers and environmental issues.SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame sent quite the message in its Atlantic Coast Conference debut. Eric Atkins scored 19 points, Pat Connaughton had 16 and the Fighting Irish upset No. 7 Duke 79-77 on Saturday. The victory comes in the wake of leading scorer Jerian Grants dismissal from school two weeks ago for an academic violation and provides a much-needed confidence boost as the Irish begin play in their new league. "Its really important for our group given the two weeks weve had to feel like, Hey, we may still have a shot at this thing. Because nobody else thought we had a shot," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. Atkins scored seven points during a decisive 20-4 run as Notre Dame rallied from a 10-point deficit and held on to win two weeks after squandering an eight-point lead in the final 50 seconds against No. 3 Ohio State at Madison Square Garden. "It definitely gives us a lot of life. Everybodys confidence is up now, winning such a big game," Atkins said. The Irish (10-4, 1-0) improved to 13-6 against top-10 teams at home under Brey. It was the first loss in an ACC opener for the Blue Devils (11-3, 0-1) in seven seasons. Rodney Hood, who led the Blue Devils with 27 points, said Duke played like an immature team, allowing the Irish to hold the ball for long periods and then score as the shot clock ticked down. "When we needed a stop, we didnt get a stop," Hood said. "We had some balls go in and out, but I can name at least 10 plays where it was a breaking point and we didnt pull it off." Duke used a 9-0 run to open a 49-40 lead early in the second half and stretched the lead to 60-50 when Andre Dawkins made a 3 from the top of the key with about 11 minutes left. But when Notre Dame went to a small lineup to try to guard the Blue Devils better from behind the arc, Demetrius Jackson hit a 3 to spark the 20-4 run. "I thought that was the biggest shot of the game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "If we get a stop, we could have gone up by 12.dddddddddddd That was a huge shot." Atkins tied the game on a layup, and then followed with another basket inside on a pass from Connaughton. Steve Vasturia, who wasnt getting much playing time before Grant was dismissed, hit a 3-pointer to give the Irish a 68-64 lead after Duke freshman Jabari Parker, who struggled all game, badly missed a 3. "That was a huge shot to really make us believe," Brey said. The Blue Devils closed within one point twice in the final 2 minutes, but the Irish didnt wilt under the pressure. Atkins made a layup after Duke cut it to 72-71, and then Garrick Sherman hit a free throw with 16 seconds left after missing the first. Duke still had a chance to tie the game, but Hood dribbled too deep and had a pass stolen by Jackson. Each team finished with six turnovers. Krzyzewski blamed the loss on Dukes defence. "We just stopped playing the defence that we were playing," he said. Sherman had 14 points as the Irish outscored Duke 44-16 in the paint. Quinn Cook had 22 points for Duke, which was 12 of 28 from beyond the arc, one shy of its season high. Parker, who grew up 90 miles away in Chicago, failed to score in double figures for the first time this season. He missed his first four shots, including a 12-foot baseline air ball, and had a jumper blocked by Austin Burgett. Cook looked frustrated at the end of the first half when it appeared Parker ran the wrong play. Parker had seven points on 2-for-10 shooting and wasnt in the game at the end. "He just wasnt having a good game," Krzyzewski said. Brey said good team defence played a role in Parkers off day. "I think there was a great team awareness of him. I wish we could have used some of that on Hood," he said. Brey improved to 1-1 against his former boss. "Its a historic day for us, our first ACC game," Brey said. "To beat a program like Dukes will always be a great memory for us starting off in Atlantic Coast Conference play." ' ' '

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