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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.

Almost.

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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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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2 replies
twopaws1932 dbroidy11 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 dbroidy11 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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Samella February 20 2014 at 12:00 PM

These young ladies, whoever wins the gold, have put the grace and beauty back into women's figure skating. The ones we saw, were just beautiful and elegant. The skating outfits are amazing. As they say, the field is deep and whoever wins, deserves it.

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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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JIm February 20 2014 at 11:47 AM

Ice, Brains, Beauty and Ballet----- These kids have it all.

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raweinbaum February 20 2014 at 1:43 PM

Those ice-skaters are very impressive. The skating and music is beautiful. The costumes are beautiful. I am not that nimble. I'm more of klots (Yiddish); English translation: tree stump. That's slang for a less than 100% coordinated person.

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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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chrlbrw1122 February 20 2014 at 10:51 AM

Soo much talent.. Awsome ..

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porterscottages February 20 2014 at 10:16 AM

AMAZING TALENT

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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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1 reply
Whomever blueeyessing 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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d1anaw February 20 2014 at 11:23 AM

So once again someone who made a mistake was placed above those who skated cleanly. This is why there is so much criticism about this event. I don't care what their history is, or their story or who the judges want to give the medal to. You score based on that one performance. If they cannot bring their A game to the event, then that's too bad. They need to be marked accordingly. There is no excuse for someone who falls to be placed above someone who skates cleanly. Period. Ever.

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2 replies
twopaws1932 d1anaw February 20 2014 at 11:49 AM

I agree that when they clearly fall why do they go ahead. I think there is favortism in skatting. Its very clear.

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jwlacher d1anaw February 20 2014 at 12:25 PM

It depends on the levels of difficulty. If the person who falls has a program with a high level of difficulty, and earns fours on her other jumps, and the person who skates flawlessly may have chosen an easier program, that's your answer. If they have equal difficulty, then the person who is flawless should win.

We are watching their whole performances, while the judges are watching their blades (technical judges) as well as their components.

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