More olympic results from Thursday
Figure skating: Russia’s cupboard was so bare of world-class female figure skaters that the sport’s most dominant nation had to turn to the kids a few years ago.
Among those youngsters was Adelina Sotnikova, who won a national championship in 2009, when she was just 12. She was too young to compete at the 2010 Olympics. When she finally got to the games this year, she was overshadowed by an even younger teammate. But on Thursday night, the 17-year-old Sotnikova looked comfortable and unburdened by the pressure of the host nation, becoming Russia’s first gold medalist in women’s Olympic figure skating.
In the signature moment of the games for Russians, Sotnikova defeated defending champion Yuna Kim of South Korea. Both women skated nearly flawless programs, but Sotnikova completed one more decisive triple jump.
“I first dreamed to be at the Olympics after the nationals in 2010,” Sotnikova said. “And when I watched the games in Vancouver, I really wanted to qualify for the next games. I knew it won’t be easy. There are so many new talented girls around.”
Well, not really in Russia. Not until Sotnikova and 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia developed into junior world champions. And while much-heralded Lipnitskaia was stumbling in Sochi, Sotnikova soared. When she won the free skate, she further confirmed Russian command of the sport.
“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.”
Lipnitskaia, the Russian sensation with the weight of a nation on her shoulders, again fell during her routine and ended up fifth. Carolina Kostner of Italy took bronze. The Russians have won three figure skating gold medals at the Sochi Olympics: team, pairs and women’s. Only the women’s was a surprise. The Russians have won three figure skating gold medals at these Olympics: women’s, pairs and team.
Freestyle: American Maddie Bowman, 20, edged silver-medalist Marie Martinod of France in ski halfpipe, while Ayana Onozuka of Japan took the bronze. Bowman put together a pair of athletic runs that produced the two highest scores in the finals. In the men’s skicross, Jean Frederic Chapuis won the gold to lead the French 1-2-3 finish. Arnaud Bovolenta won silver and Jonathan Midol captured bronze.
Nordic combined: Norway finished third in the ski jumping and had to start the 20-kilometer race behind. But cross-country ski specialist Mangus Moan made up the deficit on the first leg and Norway outdueled Germany and defending champion Austria in the relay. Germany, which had the lead after the ski jump, took silver and Austria got the bronze. Norway has won a Games-leading 10 gold medals.
Curling: Canada’s 6-3 gold medal victory in women’s Olympic curling came at the expense of Sweden, which had beaten the Canadians for the title in Vancouver four years ago. Britain won the bronze by beating Switzerland 6-5.