Updated: 02/21/2014 03:55 | By Agence France-Presse

Sotnikova stuns Kim to win dramatic gold

Adelina Sotnikova won Russia's first ever women's Olympic figure skating gold in dramatic circumstances on Thursday as defending champion Kim Yu-Na was dumped into the silver medal position.


Sotnikova stuns Kim to win dramatic gold

Russia's Adelina Sotnikova performs in the Women's Figure Skating Free Program at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 20, 2014 - by Yuri Kadobnov

The 17-year-old took her first major title ahead of South Korean superstar Kim with Italy's Carolina Kostner winning the bronze after the free skating final.

"All the sacrifices were worth it because the feelings I'm having now are difficult to describe," said Sotnikova.

Despite an error when she two-footed a double loop in her combination jump the teenager improved her free skate score by a massive 18 points to take a third title in Sochi for hosts Russia, to shouts of "Spassiba, Spassiba' (thanks) resounding around the Iceberg Skating Palace.

She achieved the second best score ever in the free skate and was just 0.11 off the world record mark Kim achieved on her way to gold in Vancouver four years ago.

In contrast, both Kim and Kostner gave error-free performances.

"I just have faith that the judges made the right decision," said former world champion Kostner.

Kim said: "I'm so happy to be here. That was my last competition as a skater. I did a clean short and a clean long."

Kim had been bidding to become just the third woman to win back-to-back titles after Norway's Sonja Henie, triple winner between 1928 and 1936, and Germany's Katarina Witt in 1984 and 1988.

She had watched in tears as the scores came up putting her second 5.48 points behind four-time Russian national champion Sotnikova, who finished runner-up at the Europeans behind countrywoman Julia Lipnitskaia last month.

Lipnitskaia, 15, finished fifth on Thursday.

Witt, who earlier in the day had said she hoped Kim would become a double gold medallist, told German TV in the immediate aftermath of the result: "I don't understand it -- I am little bit stunned."

- 'I think I found a new me' -

Sotnikova landed seven triples including a triple Lutz-triple toeloop to score 149.95 points for her skate to "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso" for an overall 224.59 points. 

"I smashed my season's best. In fact, I smashed my highest score for my whole career and I did it at the Olympics. I didn't think I could skate like I did today," said Sotnikova, who had been overlooked for the team event in which Russia won gold with Lipnitskaia.

"The atmosphere was wonderful. I felt something amazing coming from the crowd. I could hear shouts and screams the whole time of 'keep going Adelina', and 'you can do it'. I just couldn't skate badly."

She added: "I found something totally different in myself today. I had a bit of nerves before I skated but just before I started I was completely calm. I just felt how much I love to skate. I think I found a new me."

The 23-year-old Kim, known as "Queen Yu-Na" in her native South Korea, scored 144.19 points for her free skate to Astor Piazzolla's tango "Adios Nonino" which included six triples for an overall 219.11. 

Kostner's stunning skate to Ravel's "Bolero" included seven triples and she achieved 142.61 for her skate for an overall 216.73 to give Italy their first Olympic singles medal in figure skating. 

Sotnikova had been just 0.28 behind Kim after the short programme with  Kostner, 27, a further 0.52 adrift in what had been effectively a tie for first place going into Thursday's free skating final.

It was a third title for Russia after Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov pairs' success, in which they led a 1-2 ahead of Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov. Russia had also won the team competition.

American Gracie Gold finished fourth after a fall with Japan's Mao Asada moving up to sixth from 16th after the short programme, with a stunning free skate in which she landed a triple Axel jump, to become the first woman to do so at consecutive Olympics.

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