- I am very glad to win the nomination “Athlete of the Year 2019”. It is a great honor for me. I want to say a huge thank you to Glamor magazine, to all those who voted for me, and, of course, to my team. Without them, I would not have succeeded, ”said the athlete at the presentation of the award.
Russia’s Alina Zagitova, the 2018 Olympic gold medalist and 2019 world champion, has been under intense scrutiny since winning in PyeongChang some 21 months ago. No doubt she will be again when she skates at NHK Trophy (this weekend, live and on-demand for NBC Sports Gold subscribers).
Her last outing, at Grand Prix France, was no exception. Zagitova placed second, some 19.94 points behind 16-year-old Alena Kostornaia, her training partner at the Sambo-70 school in Moscow lead by coach Eteri Tutberidze.
Kostornaia is capable of two triple Axels in a free skate. Anna Shcherbakova is capable of two quad Lutzes in a free skate. Alexandra Trusova is capable of a quad Salchow, quad Lutz, and quad toe. She attempted four in her winning Rostelecom Cup free skate.
Talk has swirled on social media and in the press, as audiences wonder if Zagitova may experience the feeling of being pushed out by younger, more technically acute skaters. Zagitova won Olympic gold by defeating older training partner Yevgenia Medvedeva, then a nearly undefeated two-time world champion. But a year ago, Zagitova lost the European championship to another young Russian, Sofia Samodurova (coached by Alexei Mishin). Zagitova managed to bounce back to win the World title two months later.
Zagitova is not ready to admit that the wheel of fortune was turning too fast for her, however.
“I also was one of these junior skaters who did all their jumps with a hand above their heads,” she said after Grand Prix France. “I was one who did their jumps in the second half of their program, because it gave you more points. I was even the first one to land a triple Lutz, triple loop combination, also in the second half. Rules have changed since, what can I do?”
At the same time, she genuinely acknowledged her teammates’ prowess.
“I think that those girls who do quads are great,” she said enthusiastically, though Zagitova nonetheless had tears in her eyes when she understood that she had lost to Kostornaia.
Teenage Russian figure skating star Alina Zagitova says she let ‘haters’ get to her early on in her career but learned to tune out the negativity as she forged a path to success.
Zagitova burst onto the senior figure skating scene in the 2017-18 season, winning the Grand Prix title before clinching gold at the Winter Olympics in South Korea at the tender age of 15.
That victory was not without controversy, with critics accusing Zagitova of ‘backloading’ her routine with jumps to take advantage of the scoring system, in contrast to the program of countrywoman Evgenia Medvedeva, who picked up silver.
Russian Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova picked up a title of a different kind after she won an online vote on the Games' favorite style icon.
Zagitova - who was crowned ladies' champ at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang - is building a budding reputation as a style icon to accompany her prowess on the ice.
That fact has been recognized by the official Olympic Channel Twitter account, as the 18-year-old star won a vote to find social media’s favorite Games style icon - beating American skating hero Johnny Weir into second place by picking up 62 percent of the vote.
The poll, which was shared with the account's 406,000 followers, mobilized Zagitova's army of fans as they gave their backing to the Russian sensation.
Zagitova had reached the showdown with Weir by seeing off Jamaican sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the semi-finals, picking up a similarly resounding 68 percent of the vote.
Testament to Zagitova's growing style status was her recent appearance on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine in Russia, while she's also made her mark on the beauty industry, becoming the face of Japanese makeup and skincare company Shiseido.