Russian figure skater Alina Zagitova won her scandal-plagued country’s first gold medal at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Friday, and drew mixed reactions from viewers.

Alina Zagitova wins Russia’s first 2018 Olympics gold

The 15-year-old star — the second-youngest Olympic gold medalist in women’s figure skating — beat 18-year-old compatriot Evgenia Medvedeva for the top spot.

“I can’t believe I’m the champion,” said Zagitova. Tara Lipinski is the youngest female figure skater to win an Olympic title after she took gold in Japan in 1998 at age 15, 28 days younger than Zagitova.

As Zagitova stood on the podium, the Olympic anthem played instead of the Russian anthem, since the country has had several athletes banned from competing due to a long-running state-sponsored doping program. Its athletes are competing as the “Olympic Athletes from Russia” and carried the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony instead of its own flag.


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Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond won bronze in the event.

Zagitova — who earned a total score of 239.57 — performed a jump-filled routine to “Don Quixote.” Some people praised her routine, while others noted that it was backloaded with several major jumps and other big moves, which allowed her to conserve her energy for the second half of the competition.

Some believed Medvedeva was the better skater and should have won gold:

Some defended Zagitova from the criticism about her backloaded jumps by citing competition rules:

Others felt this year’s figure skating event competitors didn’t find a good balance between athleticism and artistry when performing their routines.

Overall, there were also many people who voiced how impressive it was that both Russian skaters finished so well despite their young age.

The Americans finished ninth, 10th and 11th in the singles event, their worst finish since World War II. Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land a triple axel at any Olympics, and helped Team USA take bronze in the team event.


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