Watch: Russia’s Alina Zagitova Wins Olympic Figure Skating Gold; Viewers React With Mixed Feelings On Social Media
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.
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.
Has the apprentice become the master?
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) February 23, 2018
Oh my gosh Zagitova!!!! Your ice skating is so amazing!!!! WOW!!!!
— Paige VanZant (@PaigeVanzantUFC) February 23, 2018
Aline Zagitova’s skating and it’s wait for it, wait for it, wait for it — then jump, jump, jump, jump, jump..
— Juliet Macur (@JulietMacur) February 23, 2018
Some believed Medvedeva was the better skater and should have won gold:
Medvedeva: I will take you on an emotional journey that ends with me getting hit by a train
Zagitova: I’ll just do all my jumps in the last twenty seconds Bc they are worth more points then who cares about the journey
I DEMAND JUSTICE
— kang (@jaycaspiankang) February 23, 2018
Evgenia is the better skater. Zagitova is a jumping machine, but Medvedeva is the whole package. That’s just disheartening.
— Isa (@artincircles) February 23, 2018
Me: hi yes, i’d like to report a robbery
Police: yes, what is it?
Me: Evgenia Medvedeva’s Pyeongchang 2018 gold medal
— Lau. 🍵 (@MoriNoKaeru1) February 23, 2018
What?!?!?? Evgenia Medvedeva
was flawless. FLAWLESS. She transported her audience to a story and she showed so much emotion! And she get’s silver?!?? pic.twitter.com/geWxOiCuiG
— Mikayla (@Mikayla36692343) February 23, 2018
Some defended Zagitova from the criticism about her backloaded jumps by citing competition rules:
Zagitova She did her jumps in the second half, why complain when those are the rules, they give extra points
— Dick Button (@PushDicksButton) February 23, 2018
Others felt this year’s figure skating event competitors didn’t find a good balance between athleticism and artistry when performing their routines.
US Olympic coach Audrey Weisiger on immediate impact of Zagitova backloading all jumps and winning? “Every parent will now want their kid to do all their programs that way, with all the jumps at the end.” Agreed. That’s the message judges just sent. Lovely.
— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 23, 2018
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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