SOCHI, Russia- Russian flags were on proud display, and the crowd at Sochi’s Iceberg Skating Palace chanted “RUSS-SHEE-YA! RUSS-SHEE-YA!” when 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia took the ice, along with the five other women to compete their short programs.
With Russia’s star-studded hockey team bounced from the Sochi Games and figure skating Evgeni Plushenko bowing out with injury, Lipnitskaia stood—barely 5 feet tall — as the host nation’s best hope of added to the glory of the Sochi Games in the five remaining days of competition.
But after opening with a beautiful triple lutz-triple toe combination and showing her jaw-dropping flexibility, Lipnitskaia fell in an ungainly heap on the triple flip tucked toward the end of her short program.
Her marks, 65.23, were well shy of her season’s best. And they placed her third, behind defending Olympic Champion Kim Yu-Na and U.S. Champion Gracie Gold with five skaters yet to compete.
Up next: Ashley Wagner.