Adelina Sotnikova wins gold in women's figure skating
Korean star and defending champion Yuna Kim takes silver
Russian figure skater Adelina Sotnikova won gold in women's singles figure skating in Sochi on Thursday, the first Russian to ever pull off the feat.
She set a new personal best in the event, to the delight of the crowd. She finished just ahead of Korean star Yuna Kim, the defending champ from Vancouver, who was hoping to become just the third woman ever to successfully defend Olympic gold in figure skating.
When she finished her free skate, Sotnikova buried her face in her hands, unable to hide her joy at her performance. She knew she sat in first place as soon as the judges posted her score, but she had to endure several anxious minutes while other skaters, including Kim, went after her.
"I smashed my highest score for my whole career and I did it at the Olympics," Sotnikova said. "I didn't think I could skate like I did today."
Kim was the last skater to compete and though she skated a clean routine, it was not enough to topple Sotnikova from the top spot. Kim has never finished lower than third in any competitive event, and was the prohibitive favourite coming into Sochi.
The home Russian crowd erupted when Kim's score was posted. "The atmosphere was wonderful. I felt something amazing coming from the crowd," Sotnikova said.
The bronze medal went to 2012 world champion, Italian skater Carolina Kostner.
Two Canadians also competed before the leaders took the ice. Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond skated seventh and earned a season's best score for her of 112.80.
Osmond, who was born in Marystown, N.L., but now lives near Edmonton, started very strong but weakened a little down the stretch as she stumbled on a triple-toe loop. Still, her performance was just shy of her best-ever score for a long program of 115.89.
"I've been here a long time and this is only the second time I've competed this programme internationally, so I'm happy with how it went," Osmond said.
"I came back fighting after the fall."
Newmarket, Ont.'s Gabrielle Daleman skated third. Daleman flubbed her first jump combo, a triple-Lutz, triple-toe, the same combination that gave her problems in the short program. But she recovered in the rest of her routine to post a 95.83. Her personal best in the long program is 101.52.
"I didn't go exactly the way I wanted to last night and tonight, but I'm very happy with it," Daleman said. "I didn't give up on the programme and I kept pushing through it."
Daleman says bronze medallist Kostner gave her some advice that she's taken to heart: "She gave me the advice that 'even if jumps don't go the way you want, never give up your programme and always skate with your heart."
"No matter what happens, don't give up."
With files from Olympic News Service