Plushenko, Slutskaya win Cup of Russia

Evgeni Plushenko won the Cup of Russia Grand Prix on Saturday with a free program that was off his best, but which allowed him to easily beat world champion Stephane Lambiel, who took the silver medal.

American skater Johnny Weir was third after missing two intended triples.

&to=' target=_blank>Plushenko loaded the first part of his program with jumps, completing nine before moving on to other rated elements. While that emphasized his athleticism at the expense of artistry in the opening minutes, his later moves earned him the competition's highest program-elements score of 82.10.

His sit spin, however, was not tight and he did not stretch his leg to his head, once a trademark move, apparently reflecting some lingering effects of the groin surgery he underwent earlier this year.

"For the start of the season here in St. Petersburg, the competition was a success," said Plushenko, who withdrew from the world championships in March and had not competed since.

Lambiel's planned program was more technically ambitious than Plushenko's and he did two quads against the Russian's one. But his chances of overtaking Plushenko evaporated in the first minute after he fell on his opening triple axel and stepped out of his first quad.