Russia is once again dominant in figure skating. They won their first gold medal in the inaugural team figure skating event on Sunday with President Vladimir Putin in the audience.
The United States won the bronze with 60 points. Eighteen-year-old Gracie Gold was absolutely flawless in her free skate and earned 129.36 points while team dancing pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White dominated the free dances.
But the Russians had 31-year-old veteran Evgeni Plushenko and rising star 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaia. Plushenko won the men’s free skate despite fatigue towards the end of his routine. This might be his last time on ice and he was going to enjoy every last second. There is still some speculation he will compete in the individual events.
“The last two jumps I felt a little pain in my spinal cord,” Plushenko said through a translator. “I will have some days off, and I will feel OK. … First, I need to have a rest. I need to talk to my doctors. Maybe they will say something more about my spinal cord.”
His music was a mash up of music he used in the past, including The Godfather. Spectators could tell from his body there was pain, but his face only showed enjoyment.
“This games is the hardest for me,” he said. “All the fans are cheering so hard that you literally cannot do badly because they do everything with you. You get goose bumps.”
Lipnitskaia sealed the gold medal with her performance. She wore a red coat and danced to the theme song to Schindler’s List. Her performance was not as perfect as her first routine, but it was still breathtaking. The judges gave her 141 points and shot Russia to the front. She did not know Putin was watching her.
“Nyet,” she said – no – in response. Then, through a translator: “I didn’t know that the president was there, but even if I knew that he was there, it wouldn’t matter really because the support of the fans was so incredible, so massive for me.”
Russia/Soviet Union have 51 gold medals in figure skating, but did not win one in Vancouver four years ago.