SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Two more first-place finishes Saturday, one of them from Yulia Lipnitskaya, moved Russia closer to becoming the first winner of Olympic team figure skating.
In an event that gave the host nation its biggest reason to cheer Saturday, the Russians won both the ladies short program and the pairs free skate.
Under the scoring system employed for this first-ever Olympic event, Russia emerged with 47 points. Canada was second with 41, followed by the United States with 34, Italy with 31 and Japan with 30.
Eight separate routines are skated as part of the competition, which began with 10 nations chasing the medals. Ten points are awarded for first place in each of the routines, nine points are given for second place and on down the line.
After the men's, ladies, pairs and ice dancing short programs, the 10 countries were cut to five.
Lipnitskaya won the last of the short programs Saturday and Russia then came up with another victory in the pairs free skate from Kesnia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov. Russia has won three of the five skating sessions thus far.
Long routines are left to be skated by the men and ladies, along with one in ice dancing. Since a country can make up no more than four points in any of those, Russia could clinch the gold medal before the final routine is skated Sunday night.
The first round of action in this event came Thursday and at the end of that evening the United States was in danger of missing the midway cut.
The Americans found themselves in a three-way tie for fifth going into Saturday's skating, but ice dancing stars Meryl Davis and Charlie White came through with a first-place finish to lift the Americans into third place and in good shape for at least a bronze medal.