Fifteen-year-old Russian figure skater shakes up Sochi
By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, 4:45 p.m.
SOCHI, Russia — It would appear Sochi, and maybe the world, has found its darling of these Olympics.
The first big buzz of the Games came from a small source, 15-year-old Russian figure skater Julia Lipnitskaia, whose virtuoso performance — some experts were grasping for even stronger descriptions — helped her nation collectively claim the team gold. Canada took silver, the United States bronze.
Individually, she's the youngest in Winter Olympic history to win a gold.
Lipnitskaia's individual score of 141.51 was well ahead of a solid second-place showing from the United States' Gracie Gold at 129.38, but no numbers could quantify the totality of the performance. Not even the hits on the Internet, where video of the program had gone viral globally.
“She is a genius,” teammate Evgeni Plushenko, a four-medal veteran, said.
Taking the ice before a home crowd of 10,000 impassioned supporters, one of whom was Russian President Vladimir Putin in a private box, the 5-foot-1, babyfaced girl from Yekaterinburg was flawless in technique, fantastic in execution. Most impressive were her spins, which involved astounding flexibility to hold one skate high over her head, as well as her “traveling,” as it's known in the sport. The latter tracks the time a spin is sustained.
“I was really happy when I heard the audience,” Lipnitskaia replied when asked about nerves. “It helped me skate.”
Once she finished with a dizzying spin, the crowd at Iceberg Skating Palace rose to their seats in unison. Putin, too. On the Russian broadcast, the announcer beamed, “If Putin can stand, the whole nation should stand!” As the ovation contined, Lipnitskaia playfully donned a Russia baseball cap and skated to the kiss-and-cry. Famously even-keeled, she projected far more calm than those around her.
She can add an individual gold in the women's free program Feb. 20. In the interim, especially given the absence of prominently known U.S. Olympians, expect to see much more of her. It isn't unprecedented for a foreign athlete to become the main attraction among the American viewing audience. Back in 1976, when ABC held the TV rights, they embraced another 15-year-old in Montreal named Nadia Comaneci.
Her score was a little better, though.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- Starkey: Penguins’ arrogance astounding
- Matt Calvert’s goal in double OT evens series for Blue Jackets
- 1 dead, 1 wounded in shooting at Chartiers party
- Draftees’ longevity key for NFL success
- NFL notebook: Pryor will be cut if he’s not traded
- Pair of Braun homers spells defeat for Pirates
- Penguins’ Gibbons scores twice but leaves with apparent injury
- North Versailles, Murrysville families still waiting for report on 2011 chopper crash that killed couple
- Region’s 911 centers need upgrades to keep up with wireless technology
- State police: People injured in Parkway crash resulting from police chase