Sotnikova edges Kim for women's figure skating gold
Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Russia's Adelina Sotnikova won women's figure skating gold at the Sochi Olympics, edging South Korea's Kim Yuna for the title on Thursday night.
Sotnikova trailed the 2010 Olympic champion by just .28 points after the short program on Wednesday, but had a brilliant free skate on Thursday. She earned a top score of 149.95 for a two-day total of 224.59, becoming the first Russian woman to win Olympic figure skating gold.
Kim, skating last on Thursday, earned a free skate score of 144.19 for a total of 219.11 to claim a silver medal. She was trying to become the first women's figure skater to win consecutive Olympic gold medals since Katarina Witt in 1984 and 1988.
Italy's Carolina Kostner placed third to earn a bronze medal in her third Olympics. She was ninth in the 2006 Games and 16th four years ago in Vancouver.
Kostner, the 2012 world champion, was third after the short program and set a personal best with a score of 142.61 as the first of the top four skaters to perform in the free skate on Thursday.
Sotnikova took the ice after Kostner and thrilled the home crowd with a vibrant program that included a pair of triple flips. She did have a wobble on a landing, but it didn't cost her in the judges' evaluation.
After Americans Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner completed their free skates, it was Kim's chance to top Sotnikova. Despite a flawless program, she couldn't match the Russian's flair.
Sotnikova became the first Russian woman to earn a figure skating medal since Irina Slutskaya won bronze in 2006. Slutskaya also had the previous best finish for a Russian woman with a silver medal in Salt Lake City.
Gold opened with a pair of perfect combination jumps, but a fall on a triple flip late in the program likely cost her a medal opportunity. She was fourth heading into the free skate and earned a score of 136.90 for a two-day total of 205.53 to finish fourth.
Wagner was clean in her free skate, but did not receive strong marks. She had the seventh-best score of the night at 127.99 and finished seventh overall, behind 2010 silver medalist Mao Asada of Japan.
Asada skated early on Thursday after a disappointing finish of 16th in the short program. She was sensational in her free skate with the third-best score and vaulted up to a sixth-place finish overall.
Russian fan favorite Yulia Lipnitskaya fell on a jump for the second straight night and earned a score of 135.34 to finish fifth overall. The 15-year-old Lipnitskaya helped the host country earn gold in the team competition with first-place finishes in the short and free programs on the first weekend of the Games.
The Americans finished off the podium for the second straight Olympics. There had been at least one U.S. women's medal winner in women's figure skating since 1968. With the men also shut out, it marked the first time the U.S. failed to earn a medal in men's and women's skating since 1936.