Russia solidifies lead in team figure skating, U.S. in the medal hunt

Fourth-Place Medal

Russia solidified its lead after day two of the inaugural Olympic team figure skating event, with its skaters winning two of the three contested events: the ladies short and pairs free skate. The host country has a significant lead -- 6 points -- over the rest of the field.

Canada had a strong showing as well, placing second in the short dance and pairs free.

Team USA was in seventh after day one, but pulled up into third place thanks to Meryl Davis and Charlie White's first place in the short dance. Ashley Wagner redeemed herself after her disappointing showing at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships to place fourth in the tough ladies field.

Italy and Japan sit in fourth and fifth place, respectively, but Japan is the bigger threat to the U.S. bronze medal. Japan has strong singles skaters, and can make up ground when the men and ladies skate Sunday.

[Related: U.S. Figure Skating denies report of collusion between U.S. and Russian judges]

Some other highlights from Saturday's team competition:

- Julia Lipnitskaya of Russia took a commanding lead in the ladies short program. She landed the most difficult jump combination of the evening -- a triple Lutz-triple toe loop -- and showed off her amazing flexibility.

- Carolina Kostner of Italy also turned in a flawless performance on her 27th birthday. She's had meltdowns in her previous two Olympic performances.

- Mao Asada of Japan fell on her triple Axel, but she is the only woman in the field attempting the difficult three-and-a-half revolution jump.

- Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir of the United States attempted a throw quadruple Salchow in the pairs free skate, which they almost landed. It was the only throw quad of the competition.

The team standings after day two are:

1. Russia, 47 team points

2. Canada, 41 team points

3. USA, 34 team points

4. Italy, 31 team points

5. Japan, 30 team points

Medals will be decided on Sunday after the free dance, men's free skate and ladies free skate. Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Jason Brown and Gracie Gold will represent the United States in the medal round.

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