Bursting from the shadow of her adored teammate, Adelina Sotnikova gave Russia its first gold medal in women's Olympic figure skating.
While much-heralded Julia Lipnitskaia was stumbling, the 17-year-old Sotnikova soared. When she won the free skate Thursday at the Sochi Games, she denied South Korea's Yuna Kim from defending her title and confirmed Russian command of the sport.
The Russians have won three figure skating gold medals at these Olympics: team, pairs and women's.
Only this latest one was a surprise. A huge surprise.
Sotnikova, 2 years older than Lipnitskaia but far less accomplished, was considered a long shot against the likes of Kim, Italy's Carolina Kostner, who took bronze, Japan's Mao Asada and Americans Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner.
But Sotnikova, seemingly far more relaxed than nearly every other competitor, won it all, giving Russia or the Soviet Union 27 Olympic gold medals in the sport. They own five men's golds, 13 in pairs, seven in ice dance, and took the first team event this year.
Sotnikova was in the media area when she was told she won. She ran waving her arms in the air before finding her coach and sharing a warm hug. When she got onto the podium for the flower ceremony, to raucous chants of "Ro-ssi-ya," she jumped up and down like a teenager who had just had her Olympic dream come true.
She then took a lap around the rink wrapped in the Russian flag.
Lipnitskaia was fifth.
American Gracie Gold finished fourth, Ashley Wagner seventh and Polina Edmunds ninth. Japan's Mao Asada was third in the free skate after a 16th in Wednesday's short program and wound up sixth.