Adelina Sotnikova used anger to win gold
Adelina Sotnikova (Reuters)
By Emmeline Moore
Newly-crowned Olympic figure skating champion Adelina Sotnikova admitted that her fury at being overlooked in favour of fellow teen Julia Lipnitskaia to compete for Russia in the new team event in Sochi had motivated her desire for victory.
As praise rained down on 15-year-old Lipnitskaia for her dazzling skates which helped Russia to gold, Sotnikova had to watch from the sidelines as her teammates celebrated in the presence of President Vladimir Putin.
And the 17-year-old from Moscow vowed that she would finish on the podium at the Iceberg Skating Palace in the individual event.
"It helped a lot that I didn't participate in the team event," she explained.
"I got really angry and I decided that I will get a medal in the individual event.
"I really wanted to take part because I knew that we would win a medal because our team was so strong and when I found out that I was not in the team I felt so sorry and I felt offended."
And she was as good as her word as she became the first Russian woman to win the Olympic figure skating gold in dramatic circumstances on Thursday night as defending champion Kim Yu-Na, 23, had to settle for silver, and Italy's Carolina Kostner, 27, the bronze.
It was the first major title for Sotnikova who had failed to maintain her early promise after taking the first of her four national titles aged just 12 years.
This season she was runner-up in her two Grand Prix assignments - the Trophee Bompard and the Cup of China - and the European championships in Budapest.
Lipnitskaia became the youngest winner of the European title last month and had looked set to be the star of the Russian team after Yevgeny Plushenko's shock withdrawal injured before the men's event.
But after her team heroics the skater from Yekaterinburg failed to shine in the individual skate, falling in both the short and the long programs to finish overall fifth.
"I don't read the newspapers and I try not to listen to rumours because I wanted to focus on myself," said Sotnikova of the media frenzy surrounding Lipnitskaia.
She staked her claim to gold in Sochi by placing just 0.28 behind two-time world champion Kim after Wednesday's short program with Kostner a further 0.52 adrift going into Thursday's free skating final.
Despite two-footing a double loop in her combination jump in her skate to "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso" she improved her free skate score from Europeans last month by a massive 18 points.
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.
She knew her skate had gotten her on the podium but was stunned on learning she had beaten Kim by 5.48 points to take gold.