Snub fired me to gold, says Russia's new Olympic figure skating champion Adelina Sotnikova

'I got really angry,' she says of being overlooked for much-hyped Julia Lipnitskaia

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 February, 2014, 9:51am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 February, 2014, 9:51am

Newly-crowned Olympic 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.
<P> 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.
<P> And the 17-year-old from Moscow vowed that she would finish on the podium at the Iceberg Skating Palace in the individual event.
<P> “It helped a lot that I didn’t participate in the team event,” she explained.
<P> “I got really angry and I decided that I will get a medal in the individual event.
<P> “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.”
<P> 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.
<P> 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.
<P> 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.
<P> 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.
<P> But after her team heroics the skater from Yekaterinburg failed to shine in the individual skate, falling in both the short and the long programmes to finish overall fifth.
<P> “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.
<P> She staked her claim to gold in Sochi by placing just 0.28 behind two-time world champion Kim after Wednesday’s short programme with Kostner a further 0.52 adrift going into Thursday’s free skating final.
<P> 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.
<P> 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.
<P> 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.
<P> “When I saw I had won in terms of the technical component I really didn’t believe my eyes, frankly speaking. It’s incredible, it’s overwhelming. I can’t quite believe it.”
<P> “Two years ago, all of my competitions were very bad,” said Sotnikova.
<P> Born on July 1, 1996, Sotnikova began skating at the age of four at the Yuzhny ice rink near her home in Moscow.
<P> She switched to train at CSKA three years later and began working with her present coach Elena Buianova when she was eight.
<P> Sotnikova debuted at the senior level at the 2009 nationals and won gold at the age of 12.
<P> “When I won my first national championship I was 12 and I couldn’t belive it just like I can’t believe it today.”
<P> From 2010 her ambition was to compete in the Olympics.
<P> She becomes the third Russian woman to medal at Olympics after Irina Slutskaya won silver in 2002 and bronze in 2006, and former Soviet skater Kira Ivanova a bronze in 1984.
<P> “I gave a great gift to my country,” she said.
<P> “All the sacrifices were worth it because the feelings I’m having now are difficult to describe.”
<P> It was a third title in Sochi for Russia after Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov pairs’ success, in which they led a 1-2 ahead of Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov.
<P> Russia had also won the team competition and a bronze in ice dance.