Sotnikova takes controversial gold, Ukraine shockwaves hit Sochi
(From L) South Korea's silver medalist Kim Yu-Na, Russia's gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova and Italy's bronze medalist Carolina Kostner stand on the podium during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 20, 2014 - by Adrian Dennis
Sotnikova, 17, captured Russia's first ever women's individual gold as defending champion and red-hot favourite Kim Yu-Na was dumped into the silver medal position.
Despite an error when she two-footed a double loop in her combination jump the teenager improved her free skate score by a massive 18 points to take a third skating title in Sochi for hosts Russia.
In stark contrast, both Kim and third-placed Carolina Kostner of Italy gave error-free performances.
"I just have faith that the judges made the right decision," said former world champion Kostner.
Kim, 23, had been bidding to become just the third woman to win back-to-back titles after Norway's Sonja Henie, triple winner between 1928 and 1936, and Germany's Katarina Witt in 1984 and 1988.
Kim watched in tears as the scores came up putting her second behind four-time Russian national champion Sotnikova, who finished runner-up at the Europeans behind countrywoman Julia Lipnitskaia last month.
Lipnitskaia, 15, finished fifth on Thursday.
"I smashed my season's best. In fact, I smashed my highest score for my whole career and I did it at the Olympics. I didn't think I could skate like I did today," said Sotnikova.
It was a third title for Russia after Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov pairs' success, in which they led a 1-2 ahead of Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov. Russia had also won the team competition.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian alpine skier and her coach pulled out of the Olympics on Thursday in protest at the authorities' deadly use of force against the protests in Kiev.
At least 67 people have been killed in two waves of violence between protesters and riot police that first broke out on Tuesday, Kiev city authorities said.
Bogdana Matsotska and her coach Oleg Matsotskiy, who is also her father, said they were "outraged" by the refusal of President Viktor Yanukovych to favour dialogue.
"In a sign of protest... against the bandit-like actions against protesters, we are taking no further part in the Sochi Olympics in 2014," Oleg Matsotskiy wrote on his Facebook page in a statement in the name of himself and his daughter.
- 'Shameful for a world power' -
Russia's ice hockey flops were feeling the heat of an angry media after they crashed out of the quarter-finals on Wednesday for the second successive Games, losing 3-1 to Finland.
"Shameful for a world power," screamed a headline in Sovietsky Sport.
The Moskovskiy Komsomolets complained: "The Russian team were knocked out with an inglorious defeat."
Six gold medals were up for grabs on Thursday with the women's ice hockey final again featuring Canada, who have won the past three gold medals, against the United States, the winners of four of the past five world titles.
In men's freestyle ski cross, Jean Frederic Chapuis led home a French clean sweep ahead of Arnaud Bovolenta and Jonathan Midol.
It was France's first winter podium sweep and also made the Sochi Games the country's most successful with 14 medals so far.
All-conquering Canada won their first Olympic women's curling gold since 1998, defeating Sweden 6-3 to avenge their defeat in the final on home ice at the Vancouver Games.
Skipped by Jennifer Jones, who took to the rink appropriately wearing golden eye shadow, Canada ended Sweden's hopes of a third successive Olympic title.
World champions Britain sealed bronze with a 6-5 win over Switzerland to ensure the country's most successful Winter Olympic Games since Chamonix, France, in 1924.
"It's a dream come true. This is the medal we've been missing and to win it with four of my best friends feels so special," said Eve Muirhead, who skipped Britain to the 2013 world title.
Britain has three medals in Sochi -- one gold and two bronze -- and are assured of at least a silver when their curlers face Canada in the men's final on Friday.
Norway beat Germany by a fraction of a second in a thrilling final sprint to take gold in the men's Nordic combined team relay for the first time since Nagano in 1998.
In the day's other medal event, Maddie Bowman of the United States won the women's freestyle halfpipe, a new event at Sochi.