Alina Zagitova during her gold medal performance at the Gangneung Ice Arena. Photo: Reuters / Lucy Nicholson
Alina Zagitova during her gold medal performance at the Gangneung Ice Arena. Photo: Reuters / Lucy Nicholson

She is young, gifted and destined for a golden future. At just 15, Russia’s Alina Zagitova won the women’s figure skating competition at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang with a breathless performance.

The teenage sensation followed her short program world record of 82.92 with 156.65 points in the free dance to finish 1.31 points ahead of compatriot Evgenia Medvedeva to earn the Olympic Athletes from Russia their first gold medal at the Games.

“I’m very happy that I was able to win a medal for our team,” Zagitova told a media conference. “I think this is only the beginning. Everything is still ahead.”

Skating to ‘Don Quixote’ by the composer Leon Minkus in a flashy red tutu, Zagitova held on for her opening triple Lutz and went on to land another six triple jumps. “That was the best performance of my life,” she said.

Medvedeva was visibly disappointed after her second-place score was announced. But the 18-year-old was still satisfied with how she had performed.

“I wanted to end these Olympics without any regrets. I was able to do that,” she said. “A great sports life awaits me. And like today, I will leave everything on the ice. I won’t think of the past.”

The performances of Zagitova and Medvedeva in Pyeongchang reasserted the dominance of Russian women figure skaters on the international stage, a point made by bronze medallist Kaetlyn Osmond, who finished on 231.02 points.

“The Russian girls are impressive,” said Osmond, who helped Canada win gold in the team event last week. “They’re consistent and do everything that the sport is asking for. That is just something that everyone else has to try to keep up with.”

In third place after the short program, Osmond stepped out of her opening triple Lutz but recovered to cleanly complete her free skate routine.

“I’m trying to close the gap [with the Russian skaters] as little as I can,” the 22-year-old said. “It takes just doing what we can, pushing as hard as we can.”

– with Reuters

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