Alina Zagitova, a 15-year-old figure skater from Russia, is expected to challenge her fellow Russian, Evgenia Medvedeva, for a gold medal in PyeongChang.
When Medvedeva suffered a foot injury, Zagitova took first place at the Russian National Figure Skating Championships. Now the two Russians are anticipated to be each other’s toughest rival in South Korea.
Zagitova’s balletic artistry on the ice has dazzled the judges and crowds. “…the country’s medal hopes are mainly tied to Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova, who are expected to achieve podium places in figure skating,” RT noted, especially since many Russian athletes were not allowed to compete due to a doping scandal.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Alina Zagitova’s Father is a Russian Ice Hockey Trainer
Alina’s family history foretold her future career. “Her dad is the trainer of Russian ice hockey team Izhstal,” Russia Beyond reports. According to the news site, Zagitova is from Izhevsk, which is located 790 miles east of Moscow.
She’s not the only figure skater in the family. According to the PyeongChang Olympics website, “Her younger sister Sabina has also competed in figure skating. Her father Ilnaz Zagitov played ice hockey at national level and has worked as an ice hockey coach.”
2. Alina Has Said She Doesn’t Have Many Friends
Ice skating can be an isolating sport due to the amount of training time that is required. Alina has said she has few friends, according to Russia Beyond: “Only in figure skating, there are people who I see constantly. But this is sport, we are rivals.”
She enjoys American television shows and playing with her pet cats and chinchillas, the site reports. Her hobbies were described as “Drawing, watching TV, travelling.”
3. Zagitova & Medvedeva Share the Same Coach
If their elegant artistry on the ice bears similarities, there’s probably a reason for it. Zagitova and Medvedeva share the same coach. “Both athletes have been coached by Eteri Turberidze, who previously trained Yulia Lipnitskaya, guiding her to Olympic gold in 2014,” reports RT.
According to RT, “World and European champion Medvedeva had long been considered the uncontested favorite to clinch the Olympic title, until the first-year senior Zagitova broke her two-year winning record at the 2018 European Championship in Moscow.” Now the gold is up for grabs in many experts’ estimation.
Zagitova “became the first skater in the world to place all her jumps in the second part of the program,” RT reports.
4. Alina Began Skating at the Age of Seven
Alina took to the ice early. She was seven. “It’s in my character that the more difficult it is, the better it is for me,” she has said.
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All of the hard work paid off, and she upset Medvedeva heading into the Olympics. “The two-time world champion lost for the first time in more than two years, upset by training partner Alina Zagitova at the European Figure Skating Championships in Moscow,” reported NBC.
5. She Was Named After the Famed Olympic Gymnast Alina Kabaeva
Alina is named after another famous Alina. “Her parents chose her name, Alina, after watching the performance of Russian rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva,” reports PyeongChang2018.com, quoting her saying, “I was named in her honour. When I was born, they did not give me a name until I was one year old. Once my parents watched gymnastics. Alina Kabaeva was competing, they looked at each other and decided to call me this name – Alina.”
Zagitova has said she idolizes Kabaeva, the site reports: “I know how strong her character is. And I liked very much how she performed.”
Alina Kabaeva is the alleged girlfriend of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
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