Even in second, Yevgeny Plushenko steals team event show

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SOCHI, Russia – If Russia wanted an Olympic moment when it selected a 31-year-old Yevgeny Plushenko for the Sochi Games after he had barely skated the past two years, that’s exactly what it got Thursday night at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

Skating to “Tango de Roxanne,” a slow but savvy Plushenko landed a quadruple toe-triple toe combination to start and then hit a triple Axel as well as a triple Lutz all before letting out a guttural cry at the crowd, which roared its approval.

“It was incredible, right?” Plushenko told NBCOlympics.com after his skate. “It was great to skate in front of a home audience. I am so happy to skate today. It was a good program.”

It was a night that was about Plushenko, who until weeks ago wasn’t assured to compete at these Olympics because of just one allotted spots in men’s singles. The three-time Olympic medalist – including gold in 2006 – was second at the Russian National Championships in December to a teenager named Maksim Kovtun, but ultimately he was chosen for the team.

WATCH: Plushenko performs his short program

With the Winter Olympics on home ice for the first time ever, Plushenko played into the crowd in only a way that Yevgeny can. The showman, known for his self-indulgence, played to the crowd as he skated in a short program that didn’t have any errors, but lacked visible speed.

It was an exceptional moment in Olympic history: the statesman Plushenko skating in a newly-created team event, making its Olympic debut, while one of the biggest celebrities in the country was performing in what is undoubtedly his swan song, having seemingly quit the sport after both the 2006 and 2010 Games.

MORE: Mixed first day for Team USA in team event

In the press mixed zone after his 91.39 score – which ultimately left him in second behind Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu’s 97.98 – Plushenko was in high demand, stopping for just a single question with each reporter.

“In two days we have the free program,” Plushenko said, sweat dripping off his brow. “We will talk later.”

But the country is talking about him now. The crowd roared even when Plushenko landed a jump in his warm-up; the king of skating lived another day at the Sochi Games.

Game of Thrones turns to javelin throw (video)

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In the Olympics, the javelin has turned into one of the most diverse events.

Recently, Olympic and world medalists have come from not only the traditional European powers, but also China, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago.

Now, Game of Thrones has entered the mix. In the HBO series’ sixth episode of its seventh season that debuted Sunday night — titled “Beyond the Wall” — a battle scene takes place on a frozen lake.

The full scene comes at about the 54-minute mark of the episode on HBO’s site here.

In it, a character named the “Night King” kills a dragon with what appears to be an icy spear, perfectly launched in javelin-throw fashion.

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Swimmer holds minute of silence for Barcelona as race goes on (video)

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Fernando Alvarez, a Spanish swimmer born in 1946, leaned over his starting block for his 200m breaststroke heat in the age 70-74 division at the FINA World Masters Championships on Saturday.

But as everybody else dived into the pool in Budapest, Alvarez stood up above lane 4.

There he remained, reportedly observing a full minute of silence for last week’s Barcelona terror attacks that killed at least 15 and injured more than 100.

Before his race, Alvarez reportedly petitioned FINA for an official minute of silence, but swimming’s international governing body said there was no time to fit it into that session’s schedule, according to Spanish media.

Alvarez did eventually dive into the pool but was given no time in official results.

FINA has not responded to a request for comment.

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