Russia holds lead in team event, Lipnitskaia soars

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 8, 2014 at 2:03 pm •  Published: February 8, 2014
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It was a good night for the Americans, too. The team was seventh heading into Saturday, but thanks in great part to world champion ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, it got back into contention for a medal. The 2010 ice dancing silver medalists quickstepped to the rescue by winning the short dance.

"We don't feel like we're trying to carry any sort of burden or load," White said. "We're counting on the whole team to pull through together and I think that's what makes us such a strong team."

But not nearly as strong as the Russians, led by a teenager who doesn't look her age.

Lipnitskaia's flexibility on every move, combined with her speed, not only enraptured the audience, but impressed the judges to the tune of 72.90 points.

"We are different," Lipinski said. "Even though I was young, I remember I wanted to show I could skate with the big guns."

One of this year's big-timers, Italy's Kostner, was graceful and elegant when skating to "Ave Maria" on her 27th birthday. She was second.

Japan's Asada, a two-time world champion, fell on her trademark triple axel and dropped to third, just ahead of Ashley Wagner of Alexandria, Va.

"I was very nervous today, more than I expected, and that is the reason for my mistakes on the ice," Asada said.

Wagner struggled at the U.S. championships and was placed on the Olympic team despite finishing fourth. This short program was more representative of her talent, although she two-footed a landing that cost her points.

"That performance for me was incredible," Wagner said. "I needed that, for myself, for my confidence. I needed to put out that performance."

Defending ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada were second even though she bobbled during their early set of twizzles.

"I think I might have lost a little bit of speed after the first (twizzle)," Virtue said. "It wasn't a mental lapse."

Davis and White, both from Michigan, unquestionably deserved the top spot. Their twizzles — traveling one-foot spins — were so precise it seemed as if they were one skater. Their concluding rotational lift to music from "My Fair Lady" was spot-on.

"Everything hasn't been 100 percent perfect," Davis said of the U.S. performances. "But that's part of what a team is, is being there for each other. We have a really great standard."

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AP Sports Writers Rachel Cohen and Jon Krawczynski and freelancer Marie Millikan contributed to this story.