One of the most anticipated competitions of the Winter Olympics took place on Thursday, with the ladies figure skaters taking the ice in the long program for a shot at the gold. Entering the final day, it was a tight race at the top between reigning Olympic champion Yuna Kim, Adelina Sotnikova of Russia and Italy’s Carolina Kostner, who were within one point of each other.
All of the top skaters took the ice in the final two rounds, but it was Japan’s Mao Asada, who won the silver medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics, who stole the show early and set the tempo for the final 12 skaters.
Polina Edmunds was the first skater from the United States to take the ice, and she scored a career best 122.21 to jump into third place despite a minor fall during her routine.
Heading in to the final group, Asada’s score remained at the top of the leaderboard, with Japan’s Akiko Suzuki in second and Edmunds in third.
15-year-old Russian sensation Yulia Lipnitskaya led off the final group of skaters with her Schindler’s List free skate. It was not the perfect final skate that Lipnitskaya, who was an early breakout star in the Sochi Games, was hoping for as she once again stumbled and took a fall onto the ice in her free skate.
A disappointed Lipnitskaya scored a 135.34, which was still enough to vault her in to first place ahead of Mao Asada with five skaters left to go.
Italy’s Carolina Kostner was next up in the final group and quickly put an end to Lipnitskaya’s hold on first place with a near flawless routine that scored a 142.61, which beat her previous high score by more than ten points. With just four skaters to go, Kostner was in great position to bring Italy their first ever figure skating medal.
The second Russian to take the ice was 17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova, who got the crowd on their feet with the best skate of her career. Sotnikova scored a 149.95 to catapult herself into the lead to give Russia a great shot at bringing home the gold.
Now, it was down to the final three skaters — Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner and Yuna Kim.
Gold was the first of the final trio of skaters to perform and had the tough task of following the home crowd favorite who just executed a brilliant routine. She began her routine with a perfect triple-triple combo and had a brilliant skate going, but took a fall in the middle of her routine that put an end to her outside shot at a gold medal.
Outside of the fall, it was an impressive routine that scored a 136.90, which was a personal best free skate that put her in third-place.
Ashley Wagner was the next to last performer on Thursday. Wagner had a minor mistake on her opening triple-triple combination with a two-footed landing, but outside of that she was brilliant on the ice as she returned to her “Samson and Delilah” routine.
Wagner was thrilled with her performance after the routine, but the judges weren’t as thrilled with the performance and gave a score of 127.99 which placed Wagner in sixth.
Finally, it came down to the reigning Olympic champ.
Kim, as expected, put on a great routine as she attempted to defend her Olympic gold. It was a clean skate for Kim, but it would all come down to whether or not the judges would give her a score that would be enough to leap the hometown favorite.
When the judges score was read, Kim received a 144.19, which was not enough to top the Russian.
Kim won silver, while Adelina Sotnikova captured Russia’s first ladies figure skating gold medal and Kostner of Italy took bronze — which was the first ever medal for Italy in ladies figure skating.
Here are the top five results from Thursday’s competition:
- Adelina Sotnikova, Russia: 224.59
- Yuna Kim, South Korea: 219.11
- Carolina Kostner, Italy: 216.73
- Gracie Gold, USA: 205.53
- Yulia Lipnitskaya, Russia: 200.57
Be sure to stay tuned to FanSided.com throughout the Sochi Olympics, for the latest news, results and updates throughout the remainder of the games.