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Roundup: Russians lead team skate; US vaults to third

Olympic ice dancing favorites Meryl Davis and Charlie White were in synch during Saturday’s team event.

ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Olympic ice dancing favorites Meryl Davis and Charlie White were in synch during Saturday’s team event.

Like old times, Russia is dominating Olympic figure skating.

And it was a good night for the Americans, too. The team was seventh heading into Saturday, but thanks in great part to world champion ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, it got back into contention for a medal. The 2010 ice dancing silver medalists quickstepped to the rescue by winning the short dance.

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‘‘We don’t feel like we’re trying to carry any sort of burden or load,’’ White said. ‘‘We’re counting on the whole team to pull through together and I think that’s what makes us such a strong team.’’

Marissa Castelli of Cranston, R.I., and Simon Shnapir of Sudbury, Mass., finished fourth in the final round of the pairs free skate.

Meanwhile, the host nation’s disappointment over not winning a gold medal in Vancouver will fade quickly if its skaters’ performances in the new event of team figure skating carry on throughout the Sochi Games.

Fifteen-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia had the look of an Olympic champion, dazzling the home crowd with a near-perfect routine in the women’s short program. Then it was Russia’s backup pair, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, earning cheers as they routed the field in the free skate.

With only the men’s and women’s free skate and the free dance left to contest in Sunday’s finale, Russia has 47 points to Canada’s 41 and the United States’s 34. Italy has 31 and Japan has 30.

With her countrymen chanting her first name, Lipnitskaia put on a mature presentation that had fans stomping their feet and showering the ice with flowers and dolls. Her flexibility and rapid rotation on her spins and jumps were reminiscent of Tara Lipinski when she won the 1998 Olympic gold.

And Lipinski, who was the same age at those games in Nagano, was on hand to see it.

‘‘I have been saying the whole year that she is a dark horse,’’ Lipinski said of Lipnitskaia — yes, the names are nearly the same. ‘‘I loved the energy and the fight in her.’’

Lipnitskaia easily outskated far more experienced competitors Carolina Kostner of Italy, who is in her third Olympics, and Japan’s Mao Asada, in her second. The moment wasn’t too big for her in any way.

Japan’s Asada, a two-time world champion, fell on her trademark triple axel and dropped to third, just ahead of Ashley Wagner of Alexandria, Va.

Wagner struggled at the US championships and was placed on the Olympic team despite finishing fourth. This short program was more representative of her talent, although she two-footed a landing that cost her points.

‘‘That performance for me was incredible,’’ Wagner said. ‘‘I needed that, for myself, for my confidence. I needed to put out that performance.’’

Defending ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada were second even though she bobbled during their early set of twizzles.

Davis and White, both from Michigan, unquestionably deserved the top spot. Their twizzles — traveling one-foot spins — were so precise it seemed as if they were one skater. Their concluding rotational lift to music from ‘‘My Fair Lady’’ was spot-on.

‘‘Everything hasn’t been 100 percent perfect,’’ Davis said.‘‘But that’s part of what a team is, is being there for each other. We have a really great standard.’’

Speedskating

Men’s 5,000 meters — Sven Kramer of the Netherlands set an Olympic record and defended his title, winning gold with a time of 6 minutes, 10.76 seconds.

With the king, queen, and prime minister of his country cheering him on, the 27-year-old Dutchman flew around the big oval with amazingly consistent laps, all falling within a range of eight-10ths of a second. He easily beat the Olympic mark of 6:14.60 he set while winning gold at Vancouver four years ago.

The powerful Dutch team swept the medals. Jan Blokhuijsen took the silver and Jorrit Bergsma claimed the bronze.

Seventeen-year-old Emery Lehman of Oak Park, Ill., was the top American, placing 16th in his Olympic debut. Jonathan Kuck of Champaign, Ill., was 19th, one spot ahead of Patrick Meek of Chicago.

Cross-country skiing

Women’s 15-kilometer — Marit Bjoergen won the skiathlon, giving the Norwegian cross-country skier her fourth career gold medal.

Bjoergen pulled away from Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla on the final straight to win in 38 minutes, 33.6 seconds and defend her title from the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Heidi Weng of Norway took bronze.

Kalla and Bjoergen pulled away from the leading pack of five skiers on the final uphill section coming into the stadium at Krasnaya Polyana, but the Swede couldn’t match Bjoergen’s strong finish.

Jessica Diggins of the US finished eighth in her first Olympic start.

Biathlon

Men’s 10-kilometer — Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the oldest Winter Olympic gold medalist at 40 by winning the sprint at Krasnaya Polyana.

The Norwegian beat the record held by Canadian skeleton racer Duff Gibson, who was 39 when he won gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Bjoerndalen missed one target before finishing in 24 minutes, 33.5 seconds for his seventh career Olympic gold medal, leaving him one short of the all-time mark held by Norwegian cross-country skiing great Bjorn Daehlie.

Dominik Landertinger of Austria finished 1.3 seconds behind to take silver, and Jaroslav Soukup of Czech Republic won bronze, trailing Bjoerndalen by 5.7 seconds.

Luge

Men’s singles — Germany’s Felix Loch is halfway to defending his Olympic gold medal in men’s luge.

The eight-time world champion finished his first two trips down the Sanki Center Sliding track in 1 minute, 44.149 seconds.

He leads Russia’s Albert Demchenko (1:44.443) and Italy’s Armin Zoeggeler (1:44.893), two of the sport’s greats who are in their 40s and trying to keep up with the 24-year-old Loch.

Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, N.Y., is 13th heading into Sunday’s final two runs.

Ski jumping

Men’s normal hill — World Cup leader Kamil Stoch of Poland has taken his hot form into the gold-medal final.

Stoch, who already had qualified because he was among the top 10-ranked jumpers on the normal hill going into the event, was among the top finishers in the qualifying round.

Simon Amman of Switzerland, competing in what he says will be his last Winter Games, is bidding to win a record fifth Olympic gold.

Two of four Americans qualified for the final — Anders Johnson of Park City, Utah and Peter Frenette of Saranac Lake, N.Y.

Nicholas Alexander of Lebanon, N.H., and Nicholas Fairall of Andover, N.H., failed to advance.

Alpine skiing

Women’s downhill — Dominique Gisin of Switzerland led the third training session in a race many of the top skiers elected to sit out at Krasnaya Polyana.

Gisin finished in 1 minute, 42.37 seconds, holding off Swiss teammate Lara Gut by 0.19 seconds. Kajsa Kling of Sweden was third, 0.25 seconds behind, and Jacqueline Wiles of the US finished fourth, although she missed a few gates.

The women’s downhill is Wednesday.

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