Sochi 2014: Adelina Sotnikova Ends Russian’s Search for Women’s Champion in Figure Skating

17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova of Russia, the first female ice skater in the history of the country to win gold at the Winter Olympics defeating the reigning Olympic champion Yuna Kim of South Korea and the brilliant Carolina Kostner of Italy.

Adelina Sotnikova of Russia, centre, Yuna Kim of South Korea, left, and Carolina Kostner of Italy stand on the podium during the flower ceremony for the women’s free skate figure skating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Sotnikova placed first, followed by Kim and Kostner. Photo: Rahul Prashanth/Flickr

Adelina Sotnikova became the first Russian to win gold in the Olympic women’s figure skating with a superb performance in the free programme.

“This is the happiest day in my life,” Sotnikova said. “I simply stepped on the ice today and realized how much I like what I’m doing and skated really good.”

Even though the 17-year-old former world junior champion came second after the short program, she delivered an astonishing score of 149.95 – 18.32 points higher than her season best and 8.44 points better than anyone in the field had scored this year. She finished with a score of 224.59, reports Yahoo Sports.

Vancouver-2010 Olympic champion Yuna Kim of South Korea settled for silver medal with 219.11 points and Italy’s Carolina Kostner snatched bronze scoring 216.73.

“I smashed my season’s best. In fact, I smashed my highest score for my whole career and I did it at the Olympics. I didn’t think I could skate like I did today,” said Sotnikova, who had been pacing nervously backstage until her victory was confirmed since Kim was the last competitor to skate.

Russian 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya, who helped her country win team gold, finished in fifth position. She was considered the more likely of the Russians to end the host nation’s drought in the event, but she fell both in the short and free programme, scoring a total of 200.57.

American Gracie Gold fell on her triple flip and failed to live up her name—this time—finishing fourth, but established herself as a contender in another four years.

The results raised plenty of eyebrows, particularly the 5.50 point gap between Sotnikova and Kim. In fact, American Ashley Wagner wasted no time, saying “people need to be accountable.”

“This sport needs fans and needs people who want to watch it,” Wagner, who finished seventh, said. “People do not want to watch a sport where they see someone skate lights out and they can’t depend on that person to be the one who pulls through.”

However, it should be bared in mind that her program was more technically difficult than that of either Kim or bronze medalist Carolina Kostner, her jumps carrying her to the top spot on the podium. Wearing a sparkling smokey ash dress, she landed 11 jumps, including seven triples, to the stirring backdrop of ‘Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso’, while Kim did six triple jumps and three in combination.

“I knew I would be on the podium but I didn’t know which medal I would win,” Sotnikova said. “When I saw the scores and realized I won in terms of the technical components, really, I didn’t believe my eyes.”

Apart from winning gold at such a young age, Sotnikova has already become a two-time European silver medalist, a five-time medalist of the Grand Prix series, and a four-time Russian national champion. The figure skater was born in Moscow, Russia and began skating at the age of four. Her first senior debut was at the 2009 Russian Nationals, where she won the gold medal at the age of 12, says RT.

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