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U.S. wins team short dance, Russia takes women's

SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- Fifteen-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia had the look of an Olympic champion Saturday night, dazzling the home crowd with a near-perfect performance in the women's team short program.

With her countrymen chanting her first name, Lipnitskaia put on a mature routine that had the fans stomping their feet and showering the ice with flowers and dolls. Her flexibility and rapid rotation on her spins and jumps were reminiscent of Tara Lipinski when she won the 1998 Olympic gold.

And Lipinski, who was the same age at the Nagano Games, was on hand to see it.

"I have been saying the whole year that she is a dark horse," Lipinski said of Lipnitskaia - yes, the names are nearly the same. "I loved the energy and the fight in her."

Lipnitskaia helped Russia hold the overall lead heading into the pairs free skate portion of the new event, held later Saturday night.

Also advancing were Canada, the United States, Japan and Italy.

Lipnitskaia has burst onto the skating scene, and she easily outskated far more experienced competitors Carolina Kostner of Italy, who is in her third Olympics, and Japan's Mao Asada, in her second. The moment wasn't too big for her in any way.

"All the cheering was unusual," Lipnitskaia said. "It was a real pleasure for me. I'm glad I made it pleasurable for the spectators, and I'm glad I got my team into first place."

Her flexibility on every move, combined with her speed, not only enraptured the audience, but impressed the judges to the tune of 72.90 points.

"We are different," Lipinski said. "Even though I was young, I remember I wanted to show I could skate with the big guns."

One of this year's big-timers, Kostner was graceful and elegant skating to "Ave Maria" on her 27th birthday.

Asada, a two-time world champion, fell on her trademark triple axel, and that dropped her to third, just ahead of Ashley Wagner of Alexandria, Va.

"I was very nervous today, more than I expected, and that is the reason for my mistakes on the ice," Asada said.

Wagner struggled at the U.S. championships and was placed on the team despite finishing fourth. This short program was more representative of her talent, although she two-footed a landing that cost her points.

"To score that low was very disappointing for me," she said. "But honestly, this was more about me and my performance and proving to everyone that I belong here."

Earlier, the U.S. got a huge lift, along with some dazzling footwork and spins, from its world champion ice dancers. Meryl Davis and Charlie White got the U.S. back into medals contention in the new team event. The 2010 silver medalists quickstepped to the rescue by winning the short dance.

"We don't feel like we're trying to carry any sort of burden or load," White said. "We're counting on the whole team to pull through together and I think that's what makes us such a strong team."

Defending ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada were second even though she bobbled during their early set of twizzles, hurting the couple's synchronicity. They still received 72.98 points, exactly three points below Davis and White.

"I think I might have lost a little bit of speed after the first (twizzle)," Virtue said. "It wasn't a mental lapse."

Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev were third, responding to chants of "Ro-ssi-ya, Ro-ssi-ya" that echoed throughout the Iceberg with a solid skate.

But Davis and White, both from Michigan, unquestionably deserved the top spot.

Their twizzles - traveling one-foot spins - were so precise it seemed they were one skater. Their concluding rotational lift to music from "My Fair Lady" was spot-on.

"Everything hasn't been 100 percent perfect," Davis said of the U.S. performances. "But that's part of what a team is, is being there for each other. We have a really great standard."

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sondravvag February 10 2014 at 12:44 AM

She is amazing and wonderful! What I remember is myself getting up at 5 AM to drive my daughter to the ice rink to practice! She was very good and very talented but when it came to being "devoted" to the sport........she had too many other interests! Ahhhhhhh, the life of a mom! I have no regrets however.

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kevinhh108 February 09 2014 at 10:47 PM

Is he gay?

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janet2derek February 09 2014 at 10:18 PM

I have seen Julia skate in the past and back in January when I first saw her I said to myself there is the new womens olympic champion. She is so flexible and boy can she spin and jump. Well done Julia and congratulations.

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rnrinnie1 February 09 2014 at 9:10 PM

I am 72 years old and this women is one of the best I have ever seen.

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walt February 09 2014 at 6:06 PM

I could do those moves no problem

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mlourdes00 February 09 2014 at 5:39 PM

U really know what Ur talking about, hum?
O M G !!!!!!!
Keep Ur mouth shut and Ur opinion to yourself saving some embarrasement.
Nobody needs to know U are stupid

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pamiss45 February 09 2014 at 5:38 PM

The Italian skater Carolena Kostner skated a much better technical and artistic program than this Julia who is basically a gymnast put n skates. There was not much artistry in her program at all. Yes she can spin and yes she did jump but they did not flow and seem part of the ice as did the graceful Italian skater. The Italian skater is one of the most gorgeous skaters to watch - everything flows and matches the music. As Scott Hamilton said (of Kostner) "I could watch her skate all day".

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wd4u2 February 09 2014 at 5:38 PM

Since when did dancing of any kind--become a "sport!??" The IOC is becoming ridiculous and senile at the same time!

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bjzink February 09 2014 at 5:29 PM

Yes, she has great spins, jumps, and flexibility, But her legs & arms just flop around most of the time between those moves. She has the expected lack of grace of a 15 yr. old. If that is all they give points for, of course she is a shoo-in. I thought that some of the more mature skaters were more well-rounded and graceful.

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coachbill9 February 09 2014 at 6:01 PM

She was refreshing to watch. A 10 from me.

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cherylneddie February 09 2014 at 5:21 PM

Moves only a 70 lb 15 year old little girl could make just like gymnastics there should be a minium age and weight classification. Not fair to older and heavier real women.

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