Newly-crowned Olympic champ Sotnikova inspired by battling Asada

Japan's Mao Asada, seen in the 'kiss and cry' zone, after the Women's Figure Skating Free Program, at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi Winter Olympics, on February 20, 2014 - by Damien Meyer

As Sotnikova, 17, glided to her first major title, 23-year-old Asada was competing in her last Games. 

Asada's bid to give Japan a second figure skating gold in Sochi fell foul of her trademark triple Axel jump on Wednesday -- leaving her in 16th position after the first night of the competition. 

But she recovered strongly on Thursday to post the third highest score in the free skate behind winner Sotnikova of Russia and South Korean silver medallist Kim Yu-Na -- lifting her to sixth place overall. 

"I love Mao as an athlete and as a worker," said Sotnikova of the Vancouver silver medallist. 

The Russian said she had been particularly impressed with how Asada coped with the death of her mother in 2011. 

"She's a workaholic. She overcomes all difficulty. When tragedy struck she didn't stop, she dedicated her skating to her mother. I'm always happy to skate with Mao," said the four-time Russian champion.

Sotnikova's coach Elena Buianova said that she had been shocked by two-time world champion Asada's meltdown in the short programme. 

"I know Mao, when Adelina was a small girl she trained with (choreographer) Tatiana Tarasova. Very often Mao would invite Adelina to take part in her shows. 

"She's a hard worker. I've never seen a girl train so hard even the weekend. What happened could be called a national tragedy.

"The crowd was in tears as she left the ice. I would assume she was under psychological pressure. What she did in the free skate was outstanding."

Julia Lipnitskaia's coach Eteri Tutberidze said Asada's career had been an inspiration. 

"I can't imagine how she can work like that for 12 years and be so strong for so many years. I think Mao had an emotional burnout."