Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva mesmerised audiences with elite figure-skating routines last week.
Medvedeva’s brilliance is no surprise – she had been dominating the ice rink for years.
But Zagitova is the new kid on the block.
Both teenage Russians won medals at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Their individual successes give a clue as to what’s in store in the years to come – the start of great rivalry in sport.
Here’s what we know so far.
Evgenia Medvedeva is a highly decorated figure skater from Russia. She is a two-time European champion, a two-time world champion, and two-time Winter Olympic silver medalist — at 18 years old.
But Medvedeva has a rival. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Alina Zagitova.
Like Medvedeva, Zagitova is an elite figure skater from Russia. She is a European champion and a Winter Olympic gold medalist, and she is just 15 years old.
Despite their ages, the Russian rivals are considered the greatest talents in their sport. In Medvedeva’s case, she may well be the greatest of all time.
Long before Zagitova arrived on the scene, figure skating was dominated by Medvedeva. When she was 15, she made things like this look easy.
Medvedeva was far too good for the junior-level athletes and by 2016 found she was too good for the seniors. She won a world championship — the most prestigious figure-skating title — in 2016 and 2017.
Medvedeva’s strengths include athleticism, artistry on the ice, and storytelling. For example, a fascination with death is a theme in many of Medvedeva’s routines. She once performed to audio clips of a 9/11 news broadcast.
Zagitova is the new kid on the block. But when she won the European Championship in January, she became the first skater to topple Medvedeva in two years. Was this an omen for the 2018 Winter Olympics?
Heading into the Pyeongchang Games, Medvedeva described her rink rivalry with Zagitova as a battlefield. “When we take the ice this is sport and we must fight,” she said. “This is sport — this is war.”
Both athletes were expected to obliterate the field and go head-to-head for gold. Medvedeva, who had temporarily broken the world record in the short program earlier last week, stepped up to the plate with this stunning performance in the free skate on Friday.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) February 23, 2018
But one world-record performance and one stunning routine were not enough to defeat Zagitova, who broke Medvedeva’s world record in the short program and matched her free-skate score. The 15-year-old won gold.
Despite the rivalry, Medvedeva insists she is friends with Zagitova. “We are humans, we communicate as usual, we are friends, we are girls, young girls. We can talk about everything to each other.”
Something tells us this is not the last time we see Zagitova and Medvedeva do battle.
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