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Last night kicked off women's figure skating short program in typically riveting fashion

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Nerves almost got the best of Yuna Kim.


Then she showed she has just enough to remain the favorite to defend her Olympic figure skating title.

The defending champion from South Korea won the short program Wednesday night at the Sochi Games in something resembling a photo finish. But it wasn't Russian youngster Julia Lipnitskaia on her heels.

On a day Lipnitskaia's hockey countrymen flopped out of the games, the 15-year-old couldn't revive Russian hearts. After winning both programs in the team event to help the hosts take the gold, Lipnitskaia fell on a triple flip and then broke down in tears.

"This does not define her career or who she is as an athlete," coach Eteri Tutberidze said through a translator. "She simply made a mistake. That's all. It happens."

When it happened, the crowd was stunned. And Kim had the lead - surprisingly over the other Russian woman in the field, Adelina Sotnikova - by only .28 points.

Italy's Carolina Kostner, second at worlds last year to Kim, was third, just .80 behind.

U.S. champion Gracie Gold of Chicago, second to Lipnitskaia in the team free skate, had a clean short program that earned her 68.63 points for fourth place.

"To be able to come up here and feel stiff and white as a ghost but stare fear in the face is what I'm all about now," the 18-year-old Gold said.

Countrywomen Ashley Wagner of Alexandria, Va., and Polina Edmunds of San Jose, Calif., were sixth and seventh - a very strong showing for the United States.

Kim's program to "Send In The Clowns" was exquisite. She even cracked a smile, perhaps for the first time since arriving in Sochi, after landing her double axel, the final jump of the routine. Every move was timed perfectly the music in a flowing performance.

"I was so nervous before my competition. When I finished, I was relaxed," Kim said. "I was nervous in warm-ups. My legs were shaking. I wasn't able to do my jumps. In my head, there were a lot of thoughts."

She admitted to making a slight mistake on footwork, and the judges gave her only level 3 (out of 4) on it, and on her layback spin. Again, she said, it was anxiety.

"I tried to believe in myself and remember my practices," the 23-year-old Kim said. "I thought if I do well in practice, I can do well in the main event."

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vigoddess February 21 2014 at 2:49 AM

The Italian really won the gold with her version of 'Bolero'
as she danced the story with the music, flowing as one
with the ice. Sure the Russian and the Korean were
technical champions, but how many triple axles
make a difference after awhile when you are
competing with the ice, and not creating a
skill beyond expectation with the music.
The Italian made it all look like you were seeing
a dream come to life.
Great job.

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gosfnow February 20 2014 at 7:10 PM

winter sports are awesome ! very few negroes too ruin it ! pretty little white girls ! perfect ! no thugs dancing like apes after plays !

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ljg43 February 21 2014 at 1:40 AM

You are a racist pig.

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Kay February 20 2014 at 6:13 PM

I was able to watch the finals today and must say that they two young Americans, Polina and Gracie were awesome for being in their first Olympics. Gracie just missed being in the medals. The third American, Ashley was a disappointment for sure. I still do not think that she should have even been there, I don't care how well she "had" done before! They have the Nationals to chose who should go to the Olympics and the commitee passed over some one who should have been there! Shame on the committee.

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joedb126 February 20 2014 at 5:06 PM

Ashley Wagner did not win Nationals in Massachusetts it was a gift for her. She two falls in Nationals and I was surprised the next day to learn she had received the right to go to the Olympics.
The girl (younger) who skated after Ms. Wagner really had the winning performance. There's Politics in everything much to my disappointment.

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Kay February 20 2014 at 6:14 PM

My feelings exactly. Ashley did not belong at the Olympics this year, the younger skater who did much better should have been there! I wonder how much Ashley's group had to pay to get her on the Olympic team?

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blueeyessing February 20 2014 at 4:15 PM

Gracie had the most beautiful dress of them all (JMO). She and Ashley need to please tone down that harsh red lipstick though.

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Whomever February 20 2014 at 5:27 PM

Who is looking at her lips? That's ludricous, with her body and such smooth form.

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eturoel February 20 2014 at 3:53 PM

These girls are absolutely magnificent skaters - elegant and classy.
It is regrettable that you cannot show us the videos; we then would be able to truly see "beauty in motion."

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moorehairdesigns February 20 2014 at 3:15 PM

now live in inglewood ca...formerly philadelphia pa ...married to robert moore..whom i love much

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BRUCE February 20 2014 at 2:48 PM

It's to bad there are only three medals to be awarded, they are medal winners....The young Italian girl that won the bronze today, if you saw her reaction when she realized it....she won the gold.

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dbroidy11 February 20 2014 at 2:34 PM

Unfortunately, figure skating, unlike some of the other winter sports can lead to very subjective interpretation. Granted, there are moves that must be accomplished and spins etc that have to be done, but those with the prior "hype" who have not even yet skated seem to be given the edge with all things being equal. I love watching fugure skating, but not at the Olympics, because I am not convinced that the bias does not come out via the judges.

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twopaws1932 February 20 2014 at 2:37 PM

I believe the judges have there favorites. I watch it every chance I can get.

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blueeyessing February 20 2014 at 4:17 PM

I think the World's is coming up next on the agenda and hopefully we will see then again including the Gold Medal winner.

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diane February 20 2014 at 1:51 PM

Lipnitskaia did NOT break down in tears!

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