SOCHI, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Russia won its first gold of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games in the first team event in figure skating as Evgeni Plushenko took a record-equalling fourth Olympic medal in figure skating on Sunday.
With strong performances in all disciplines, Russia took the lead in the team standings since the opening day on Thursday and scored 75 points to win the gold medal, ten points more than the silver medalists Canada. The United States settled for the bronze with 60 points. Italy overtook Japan to come fourth.
"Everyone became such good friends, everyone was rooting for each other. There was not a single skater who let us down. I think it's a great event, for us it's unexpected and I think every Olympics should have such a unique event," said the Russian coach Nikolai Morozov.
"The team event is a different feeling, a different task. The task was to be a good member of the team and to support the team," another coach of Russia Alexei Mishin said.
Plushenko equalled Gillis Grafstrom of Sweden on a record four total medals in this sport in the Olympics. Plushenko previously won gold in 2006 and claimed silver in 2002 and 2010, all in men's event.
Strong performances by Plushenko in the men's free skating put Russia to extend the lead. He thrilled the crowd from the second he stepped on to the ice. Skating to Best of Plushenko, the 31-year-old veteran hit a quad toeloop, triple axel and double toeloop. The 2006 Olympic champion scored 168.20 points and picked up 10 team points for Russia.
Kevin Reynolds, gold medalist at 2013 Four Continents championships, scored 167.92 points to help Canada seal the second place in the team standings, and the United States settled for the third place.
In the ladies free skating, Yulia Lipnitskaya of Russia made a clean performance with 141.51 points, earning ten points for her team. Skating to Sleeping Beauty, Gracie Gold of the United States came second with 129.38 points. Italian four time national champion Valentina Marchei scored 112.51 points, picking up eight team points.
"I don't know how to explain the feeling I had out there. I'm very happy to have helped win the first gold medal for Russia," said Lipnitskaya.
"I was a little bit nervous after Evgeni got first because I didn't want to let the team down. He was very happy for me at the end and congratulated me in the 'kiss and cry'. My main motivation today was not to let the team down," she added.
World champion Meryl Davis/Charlie White captured the ice dance free dance with a dynamic performance, scoring 114.34 points. Reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir of Canada took the second place with a result of 107.56 points, as Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov of Russia third.
"The whole country is behind us, you can hear how much support we get, yet everyone expects us to skate to our best and this is what we wanted ourselves. We didn't want to disappoint anyone and wanted to skate our best," Ilinykh said.
China settled for the seventh place of the standings in the team event due to the disadvantage in the ice dance short dance and the ladies short program.
The team event is contested by 10 teams. Each team is composed of one man, one lady, and one pair, who will complete a short program, and one ice dance couple who will complete a short dance. The top five out of 10 teams after the short program/short dance qualify for the free skating/free dance segment on Saturday.
In addition to the regular "kiss and cry" where skaters wait for their scores, there are team boxes. Teammates wave flags to encourage their skaters.