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Well, I guess the politically correct way to describe the results of today’s long program and the resulting finishes on the podium in women’s figure skating would be “surprising”! Russian seventeen year old Adelina Sotnikova upset S. Korea’s Yuna Kim to take the gold medal, the first ever for a female skater from Russia in Olympic competition. Also a first, Italy’s Carolina Kostner won the bronze, the first medal (of any kind) for Italy in women’s figure skating in the Olympics. That of course left Yuna Kim with the silver medal. Tracie Gold of the USA finished in fourth place, just off the podium. Fifteen year old Yulia Lipnikskaia (there are discrepancies on this spelling, on the internet vs. TV coverage, Lipnikskaya, so I really don’t know for sure) finished in fifth, disappointing for the new Russian darling after her performances in the team competition (she won the short and long programs in that event). Mao Asada finished in sixth place, redeeming herself with a beautiful long program, yes, she landed the triple axel, and moved up from sixteenth place after her heartbreaking poor performance in the short program. Both she and Kim will retire after these Olympics. Ashley Wagner of the USA came in seventh and the American fifteen year old, Polina Edmunds placed a very respectable ninth. So, is this controversial? Commentators Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski (who has grown up to be a beautiful women and who I will never forgive for winning the gold medal over Michelle Kwan in 1998) dodged that beautifully and said the skater who came out with the fiercest competitive spirit took the gold. Sotnikova wanted it and she went out there and skated and grabbed it. She did, however, have a slight bobble on one of her landings. Yuna Kim on the other hand, skated a flawless program, no mistakes, but she did look a little tight in the middle of her program. She completed six triple jumps (all cleanly) and Adelina completed seven triple jumps (with on little slight problem on a landing). Along with Kostner, who skated a breathtaking performance to Bolero (think Torval and Dean), the top three went into today’s long program virtually tied, a mere fraction of points separated them. It always comes down to the proverbial subjective judging and what do you prefer, artistry or a whirling dervish of jumping. Kim scored higher on the marks for artistry and Adelina scored higher on the marks for technical merit. It was the difference, and Sotnikova took the gold. Has to be a bit difficult to not mention that Yuna Kim took the ice as the last performer before a Russian crowd with a Russian skater in the lead. Anyhow, Yuna is one of the highest paid female athletes in the world, a rock star in South Korea and idolized by all the young skaters there and around the world. It was a history making win for Russia and Sotnikova. My biggest complaint, the rude Russian crowd. Throughout the ice skating competition, they have cheered very loudly for all the Russian competitors, and minimally for others, no matter how brilliantly they skated. Not cool if you ask me.
So, we now await the fate of the US hockey team which will take on Canada tomorow in semifinal action. Can team USA get it done? I hope so!