U.S. assured of team figure skating bronze medal

February 9, 2014

Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia waves to spectators after competing in the women’s team free skate figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Russia’s Julia Lipnitskaia brought Sochi’s Iceberg Skating Palace to its feet with a tremendous free skate that solidified her country’s hold on gold in figure skating’s team event, with one event remaining, while establishing herself as the competitor to beat when the women’s singles event is contested.

Performing a somber program to music from “Schindler’s List,” the 15-year-old Liptnitskaia, dressed in a long-sleeved red dress with black gloves, staged a technical tour de force, opening with a triple lutz-triple toe combination. She glided around the ice with a ballerina’s grace, pulling triple jumps out of her pocket with no apparent effort.

She earned a season’s best 141.51 points to finish first, adding 10 more points of Russia’s runaway running score toward the gold medal. The free skate in dance with settle the podium later Sunday, but there’s no mathematical possibility that the order will change.

Russia will take gold; Canada will earn silver and the United States, bronze.

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)

Chicago’s Gracie Gold, 18, was scored second—a season’s best 129.38 points—in the women’s free skate, which was worth nine points to the U.S. and established her as a podium contender, as well.

“I’m thrilled. Definitely relieved,” Gold said afterward. “Not everyone on Team USA had their best performance, so I really knew–Ashley and I knew–we really had to bring our A-Game. So far, so good.”

With only the dance free skate remaining, Russia leads the competition with 67 points, followed by Canada (56) and the U.S. (50). With only a four-point swing in a single event, there’s no chance that Italy or Japan could overtake the U.S. for bronze.

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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