Sochi, Russia • Russia Rules.
The host nation won its first gold medal of the Sochi Olympics on Sunday night in the new event of team figure skating. The resurgence of Russia’s once dominant figure skating machine was led by veteran Evgeni Plushenko and teenager Julia Lipnitskaia.
In an Iceberg arena packed with their exulting countrymen, including President Vladimir Putin, the Russians skated away from Canada and the United States to win the gold before the final free dance even started.
In no discipline did they finish worse than third in compiling 75 points to 65 for Canada and 60 for the Americans.
It was a rout built on the experience of Plushenko, the consummate showman who now owns medals from four Olympics — his two gold and two silver are a record for modern-era figure skaters.
It was capped by the freshness of the 15-year-old Lipnitskaia, who donned a Russia baseball cap when she was done with her sublime tour of the ice, sat with her triumphant teammates and grinned like the school kid she is.
"I was calm," Lipnitskaia said, adding it was her coaches, parents and teammates who were nervous.
It didn’t matter that some other countries sat out their top skaters or that the Russians did the same in pairs and dance. It never really was a contest.
"I’m 31 and I’m happy gold, silver or bronze," Plushenko said.
The Americans’ bronze effort was led by world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who won both the short and free dance, and helped by national champion Gracie Gold’s superb free skate, which the judges scored second behind Lipnitskaia.
Canada didn’t win any segment, but built enough points throughout to take silver.
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