Just when it looked as though USA star Gracie Gold would steal the show at the ladies' team free skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics on Sunday, Russia's own Yulia Lipnitskaya capped the action with the top segment score.
Lipnitskaya is just 15 years old and is backing up the deserved hype surrounding her as she makes her senior debut in Sochi. A score of 141.51 as the last of five competitors on the ice was good enough to beat Gold's stellar 129.38.
|2014 Winter Olympics - Team Ladies Free Skating Results|
That also gave Russia 10 points and allowed the host nation to clinch the gold medal in the inaugural team competition.
Here is a look at the team standings after Lipnitskaya's latest triumph, as the lead Russia had wasn't going to be impacted by the final competition in the free ice dance:
|Figure Skating Team Standings - 2014 Winter Olympics|
While Gold is no slouch herself and has enjoyed a decorated career at the age of 18, there is something about Lipnitskaya that sets her apart from the rest of her distinguished peers.
And she's been soaking up the experience, as suggested her comments Saturday, per Pritha Sarkar of Reuters:
I've never seen anything like the atmosphere out there today. There wasn't any silence for a single second.
It was so loud, I could barely hear my music. All I could hear were the shouts of 'Ju-li-a' and 'Ru-ss-ia'.
Utilizing soundtrack music from Schindler's List, Lipnitskaya proceeded to have yet another flawless run on such a big stage in Iceberg Skating Palace. Gold scored in the high sevens in all categories of the program components save for transition (7.43), but Lipnitskaya posted all scores well above eight, save for transition where she had a full point better than her American rival.
To make Lipnitskaya's victory even more impressive, Gold's score was a season best, according to Yahoo! Sports' Joe Lago:
But the good news about Gold's score is that it gave the United States at least the solace that it could capture the bronze, per Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald:
Dave Zirin of The Nation didn't necessarily subscribe to the hype surrounding Gold and seems still reluctant to do so, but acknowledged how well she looked on the ice on Sunday:
The medal competition for the individual ladies figure skaters isn't until Feb. 20, but both Lipnitskaya and Gold figure to be top contenders for the gold. They are setting a standard for teen figure skaters to aspire to with their dazzling displays of skills and incredibly polished arsenal of movements on the ice in their respective programs.
It's unfortunate that the ladies free skating final isn't on for quite some time. However, it will help the buildup and anticipation swell.
The narrative will likely be a Russian victory in the team competition, and how Gold can avenge that, along with being beaten by Lipnitskaya on Sunday, en route to capturing the top prize.
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