sport

Russia set sights on team gold

Russia remained on course for gold after day two of the figure skating team competition at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

The hosts went into Saturday's action at the Iceberg Skating Palace leading the standings from Thursday's opening night, when the men's and pairs short programmes had taken place.

And it is where they were once more following an evening that saw the short programmes, and thus the qualifying round, conclude with the ice dance and women's sections, then the free skating final - into which the top five nations had progressed - commence with the pairs.

The Russians finished proceedings with 47 points, ahead of second-placed Canada (41) and the United States (34) in third.

The pick of the ice dancing duos was American world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who were last on in the section and scored 75.98.

Canada's reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Muir came second, while Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev took third spot.

In the women's section, the star of the show was teenage home favourite Yulia Lipnitskaya, recently crowned European champion and given a winning mark here of 72.90.

The 15-year-old - who, like her team-mates, received a hearty reception from the stands - said: "I did what I wanted to do on the ice today.

"Of course there was a bit of worry but, thank God, I coped well with everything I had to do. I knew I had to be calm, I had to do it all for the team.

"I've never seen anything like the atmosphere out there. There wasn't any silence for a single second. That kind of support made me so happy.

"I could hear all the shouts of 'Yulia' and 'Russia' and they really helped me."

Just behind Lipnitskaya was Italian Carolina Kostner in second and Japan's Vancouver 2010 silver-medallist Mao Asada in third.

Russia, Canada and the United States advanced to the free skating in the first to third positions and were joined in the final by Japan and Italy.

In the pairs section that followed, the home nation once again claimed the highest mark as Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, European silver-medallists last month, posted 135.09 - much to the crowd's approval.

Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch were runners-up, with third place going to Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek of Italy.