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How Adelina Sotnikova won gold

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Adelina Sotnikova won the women's figure skating gold medal at the Sochi Olympics pretty much because of one extra triple jump.

There were other differences in her favor over silver medalist Yuna Kim of South Korea and bronze winner Carolina Kostner of Italy, such as higher levels on her footwork and her layback spin. The Russian had lots of energy that propelled her to skate her best, and she also created an atmosphere of approval in the Iceberg. She clearly fed off the crowd, and such an environment often has an impact on the judging.

The 17-year-old Sotnikova's program improved throughout the four minutes. As she landed each jump, she got more excited, and instead of possibly running out of steam, she surged to the finish. She even waved to the crowd during the final portion of her program.

Sotnikova's jumps were high and long, secure and solid. They included a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination; triple flip; triple loop, double axel-triple toe; triple flip-double toe-double loop — she stepped out on the loop and got a negative execution mark; triple salchow, and double axel.

On the double axel-triple toe loop, her second jump was higher than the first, unusual but an indication of how much strength she had. Kim did six triples. Sotnikova's layback spin was marked a level higher than Kim's. So was her footwork.

Even though Kim's component marks (performance, interpretation, choreography, skating skills, transition) were a bit higher than Sotnikova's, they didn't reflect enough the difference in how much better the South Korean's components actually were. The same seemed true for Kostner's components, which were more impressive than Sotnikova's, too.

The emotion of Kostner's "Bolero," and the maturity in both her and Kim's performances better reflected the relationship between body movement and music. But in the end, the biggest difference was one triple jump.

Eds note: Marie Millikan skated as Marie Vichova for Czechoslovakia in the 1968 Olympics. She has been a skating coach in Indianapolis for four decades and has covered eight Winter Olympics for The Associated Press.

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