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Figure skating: Russians show team spirit

After taking 37 points from a possible total of 40 in the short programmes, and then a maximum of 10 in the first discipline of the free programme, Russia look well placed in their bid to win gold in the inaugural Olympic team figure skating event, taking place at Sochi’s the Iceberg Skating Palace.

Following Thursday’s short programmes in the men’s individual and pairs, on Saturday it was the turn of the women and the dancers to take the ice. The top ranking skaters in each discipline scored 10 points, with nine points for second, eight points for third etc.

The ice dance was dominated by American pair Meryl David and Charlie White, who scored 75.98 points, three points ahead of reigning Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada (72.98) and Russian pair Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (70.27).

Completing the rankings in the ice dance short programme were Nathalie Péchalat/Fabian Bourzat of France (69.15), Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte of Italy (64.92), Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi of Germany (58.04), Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain (52.93), Cathy and Chris Reed for Japan (52.00), Siobhan Heekin-Canedy/Dmitri Dun of Ukraine (49.19) and Xintong Huang/Xun Zheng for China (48.88).

Sensational Lipnitskaya

Russia rounded off their short programmes with a sensational routine from their latest star of the ice, teenager skater Julia Lipnitskaya, who scored a total of 72.90 points, which sent the vociferous Sochi crowd into ecstasy.

The 15-year-old was too strong for 2010 individual silver medallist and two-time world champion Mao Asada (JPN), who fell while trying to execute a triple axel, pushing her back into third place on 64.07 points.

France was dislodged from the top five by the Italians, who climbed the rankings thanks to a wonderful performance from 2012 world champion, Carolina Kostner (70,84 pts) which was enough to move her into second.

The USA’s Ashley Wagner finished fourth (63.10), and Kelly Osmond took fifth place for Canada (62.54); Mae Bérénice Meité of France was sixth (55.45), while Kexin Zhang of China finished seventh (54.58). Bringing up the lower order, Natalia Popova was eighth for Ukraine (53.44), Nathalie Weinzierl ninth for Germany (52.16) and Jenna McCorkell tenth for Great Britain (50.09).

Russians revel in free pr

Having finished first in three of the four disciplines in the short programme, and dropping just three points along the way, Russia began their  free programme in pole position. Joining them in the second part of the competition, featuring the top five teams from the short programme, were Canada (32 points), USA (27 points), Japan (24 points) and Italy (23 points).

The free programme kicked off with the pairs, and it was once again the hosts who shone brightest, with Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, 2014 European silver medallists bringing the local crowd to their feet with cries of “Russia! Russia! » with an inspired routine that was rewarded with a score of 135.09. That was enough to place them ahead of Canadian duo Moore-Towers/Moscovitch (129.74) and the Italian pairing of Berton/Hotarek (120.82).

The remaining three disciplines in the free programme will take place on Sunday, with the medals decided in the evening.

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