South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na captured the silver medal in the ladies' singles competition at the Sochi Winter Games on Thursday.
Kim earned 144.19 points in her free skate for a total of 219.11 points in her last Olympics.
Adelina Sotnikova of Russia won the gold medal, the first in the ladies' singles for her country. She ended up with 224.59 points after leading the field in the free skating with 149.95 points.
Carolina Kostner of Italy got the bronze with 216.73 points, after 142.61 points in the free skate.
Kim, the 2010 Olympic champion, came up short in becoming just the third woman to repeat as the Olympic champ in the ladies' singles, despite putting up the second-highest points of her career.
Kim was the leader after the short program with 74.92 points, 0.28 point ahead of Sotnikova, but couldn't overcome the bouncy Russian teenager despite a flawless free skate.
Performing to a tango tune titled "Adios Nonino," Kim opened with a perfect triple lutz-triple toe loop combination jump. She looked tentative in her final warm-up just before the program, but the smooth start to the program appeared to set her at ease.
Kim went on to put on a dazzling display of textbook jumps, sprinkling the breathless program with exquisite steps and elegant spins.
Kim was the last among 24 skaters to perform. With Sotnikova and Kostner already having put up the best scores of their careers, Kim needed at least 149.68 points in the free skate to win the gold.
Kim fell more than five points short, however, as the partisan Russian crowds at Iceberg Skating Palace celebrated their figure skating title. Kim earned 74.50 points in her program component score (PCS) for artistry and choreography, 0.09 point better than Sotnikova, but the Russian led all skaters with 75.54 points in her technical element score (TES), while Kim managed 69.69 points.
Sotnikova two-footed her landing on the last of her three-jump combination midway through the routine but more than made up for it by earning the maximum Level 4s on most of her spins and step sequences.
In contrast, Kim received Level 3s on her step sequences and her layback spin.
Sotnikova had seven triple jumps in her program, one more than Kim, and that might have been the difference that the South Korean couldn't overcome with her superior artistry.
Afterward, Kim took her close call in stride.
"I am pleased that I finished my program without mistakes for the second straight day," she said in a televised interview. "I wasn't as perfect as I had been in practice, but I did all I could. I have said all along that I wasn't going to get caught up with the results."
Though a second straight gold would have further cemented Kim's place in the pantheon of figure skating, her legacy in the sport is quite secure.
Kim has already said Sochi would be her last competition. If she sticks by the word, then Kim walks away having put together an impressive resume.
Aside from her two Olympic medals, Kim has two world championships to her credit. She still holds the world record for the highest points in the short program (78.50), in the free skating (150.06) and the total points (228.56) under the revamped judging scale, all established at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. Over her senior career that began in 2006, Kim never once missed the podium.
Two South Korean teenagers were also in action Thursday. Kim Hae-jin ended in 16th place with 149.48 points after 95.11 points in the free skating. Park So-youn scored 93.83 points in her free skating and finished with 142.97 points for 21st place. (Yonhap)