Gold scores season-best marks for free skates; will keep US safely third in team medal standings with one event to go

February 9, 2014

(Associated Press)

With the United States 16 points behind Russia and nine points back from Canada, there wasn’t much Gracie Gold could do to close the gap in the chase for the team figure skating’s gold medal when she took the ice Sunday.

But the 18-year-old Gold made a terrific effort in her impressive Olympic debut—one that was rewarded with a standing ovation by her U.S. teammates and her season’s best marks.

Figure skating is one of the most iconic of all Winter Olympic sports. From U.S. ice dancing dominance to a battle for the ladies' singles gold, here are 10 numbers you need to know about figure skating at the 2014 Sochi Games. (Davin Coburn/The Washington Post)

Tapped to perform her free skate on the third and final day of the competition, Gold opened with a difficult triple-lutz-triple toe loop combination and followed soon after with a double axel-triple toe that established her technical chops. Skating to “Sleeping Beauty,” Gold looked every bit the fairy-tale princess in her sparkly pastel dress, which melted from shades of ice blue at the jeweled neck to lavender at the skirt.

She was scored a season’s best 129.38 points, which placed her first among two, ahead of/behind Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond (110.73).

The 18-year-old U.S. figure skating champion, now competing in Sochi, says being on the ice is all about breathing and bending your knees. (Lee Powell/The Washington Post)

The second woman of five to compete for their countries, Gold will be followed by Akiko Suzuki of Japan, Valentina Marchei of Italy and Russia’s 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia, who was the star of Saturday’s short programs. Even before the first woman took the ice, the crowd at the Iceberg Skating Palace was chanting “Yoo-lia!” “Yoo-lia,” and cheers erupted when her name was announced.

With two events to go, Russia leads the competition with 57 points, followed by Canada (50) and the U.S. (41).

The competition concludes with the dance free skates, in which the U.S. is favored.

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post, she has also covered five Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.
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