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2014 Olympic figure skating: Kim, Sotnikova lead, Gold 4th after short program

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Figure skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi resumed Feb. 19 with the ladies' short program, featuring a talent-laden field of young gold medal hopefuls. By the close of competition, defending champion Yuna Kim of Korea, who entered the Games favored to repeat her title, held the lead, but by a surprisingly small margin.

Kim, 23, delivered a gorgeous, nearly perfect short program and was rewarded with a season-high mark of 74.92. A Russian --but not 15-year old phenom Julia Lipnitskaia, the much-hyped reigning European champion-- wound up just a fraction of a point behind Kim in second place, as 17-year old Adelina Sotnikova's sparkling offering garnered a 74.64. Italy's Carolina Kostner, who skated right after Lipnitskaia in what the Chicago Tribune termed a "tough draw" on Feb. 18, placed an impressive third with a 74.12 of her own.

The heralded Lipnitskaia suffered difficulties during her short program that included an uncharacteristic fall, and enters the free skate in fifth place.

All three Americans in the mix scored top 10 placements. Reigning U.S. national champion Gracie Gold sits six points behind Kim after posting a fourth place-worthy 68.63, while Ashley Wagner placed sixth, just .02 behind Lipnitskaia, with a 65.21. Polina Edmunds, competing in her first senior-level international event, placed seventh with a 61.04.

Figure skating at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi concludes Feb. 20 with the ladies' free skate. Viewers can watch the action live beginning at 7 a.m. Pacific time via livestream at NBCOlympics.com, or on NBC Sports Network.

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