Toronto, Canada – By Sonia Oxley
TALLINN (Reuters) - The record score, perfect jumps and the unmistakable long blonde hair meant one thing on Wednesday -- Yevgeny Plushenko was back in business and this was just the start.
"I can skate better, believe me, I can skate better," he told reporters after scoring a record 91.30 points in his short program at the European figure skating championships on his return to major competition after a nearly four-year break.
American Richard Button was the last man to do so, triumphing at the 1948 and 1952 Games.
"I watched his program in my hotel room on TV. It was actually the same situation as in 2006 -- he skated early and I watched in my room but I got very nervous then and now I coped with my nerves," Joubert told a news conference.
"When I saw the score I thought it's going to be difficult to beat him but it was possible."
Plushenko had also been watching his rivals, giving Joubert and third-placed Yannick Ponsero a nod and a "Good job, good job" at the news conference.
The Russian has spent much of his time since the Turin Games in exhibition shows and even made a cameo skating appearance at the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest but does not seem to have lost any of his competitiveness.
He was one of the few skaters to manage the high-scoring quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination on Wednesday, and also nailed his triple axel and triple lutz. He said he wobbled on a combination spin but judges made no deductions.
"I'm so happy with my performance today but of course I'm not going to fly to the moon because tomorrow is going to be a big fight," said Plushenko, who ended his routine by blowing a kiss.
"The important competition is going to be in February."
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)