Russia strikes first Sochi gold in team figure skating; U.S. gets bronze


From the go, Team Russia made it clear that the inaugural Olympic team figure skating competition would be theirs.

Today at Iceberg Skating Palace, the Russians emphatically finished off a gold-medal triumph with wins in the men’s and women’s free skates from Yevgeny Plushenko and Yulia Lipnitskaya. In the final standings, Russia eclipsed Canada by a full ten points, 75-65.

As for the U.S., they were able to hold off Italy and Japan to take the bronze with 60 points. Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the free dance, earning a score of 114.34 that was confirmed by U.S. Figure Skating to be the highest free dance score in history – a great sign for them going into the individual ice dancing competition that begins next Sunday.

Plushenko – who jokingly thanked the critics that questioned whether he should even be on the Russian Olympic team – notched a score of 168.20 in the men’s free to add another 10 points for the host nation.

Meanwhile, Jason Brown of the U.S. fell in his free program, suffering the same fate that teammate Jeremy Abbott did in his short program on Thursday. He finished fourth out of five with a score of 153.67.

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In the ladies’ free skate, Gracie Gold had a strong Olympic debut that was marked with the same confidence she had in claiming the U.S. Nationals title last month in Boston. Her score of 129.38 vaulted her into the lead.

But Russia’s 15-year-old dynamo Yulia Lipnitskaya followed Gold with yet another tremendous performance that netted a 141.51, ten more points for her country, and rapturous applause from all in attendance – including the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

The free dance closed the proceedings, with Davis and White earning a second win in the team competition after taking the short dance on Saturday, which helped put the U.S. back in medal position.

Their main rivals, reigning Olympic dancing champs Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, were runners-up today with a score of 107.56.

1. Russia – 75
2. Canada – 65
3. United States – 60
4. Italy – 52
5. Japan – 51

Eliminated after short programs
6. France – 22
7. China – 20
8. Germany – 17
9. Ukraine – 10
10. Great Britain – 8

source: Getty Images
Team Russia celebrates its historic Olympic gold in team figure skating. Photo: Getty Images