Thursday night’s ladies’ chargeless skate is abstraction up to be one of the greatest face-offs in Olympic history. 20 years afterwards the Nagano Olympics, I feel like I’m witnessing the animosity amid Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski all over again, except this time the rivals are Russian and I’m old abundant to bottomward a canteen of wine while watching.
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In 1998, Michelle Kwan was apparent as the admired branch into the Olympics, but her dreams of gold were baby by the shriek-worthy arete of a 15 year-old challenger, Tara Lipinski. This year, Evgenia Medvedeva is sitting in that Michelle Kwan spot. For years, the 2018 Olympics were apparent as Medvedeva’s to lose. Many accept already alleged her, at the age of 19, the greatest skater of all time. Medvedeva is a backstab Apple Champion, and was best in antagonism for over two years. In October, however, Medvedeva suffered a breach in her appropriate foot, and was affected to abjure from several events. Suddenly, the absurd seemed possible. We had affidavit that Evgenia Medvedeva was human.
At the aforementioned time, a new brilliant was on the rise: 15 year-old Alina Zagitova. Aftermost season’s Junior Apple Champion, Zagitova confused up to the chief akin this year and won every one of her Grand Prix assignments, including the Grand Prix Final (which Medvedeva sat out due to injury). Then, at the European Championships a ages ago, Medvedeva and Zagitova assuredly went head-to-head. And abundant to the shock of the skating world, Alina Zagitova won. Suddenly, the Olympics were a two-horse race. Okay, “horse” isn’t actually the appropriate allegory for these tiny teens, but “two-bird race” doesn’t accomplish any sense.
Let’s booty a additional to attending at anniversary of these Russian phenoms alone afore analytical at the poor adverse souls aggressive for bronze:
Evgenia Medvedeva of Â Russia aggressive in chargeless ball at Gangneung Ice Arena , Gangneung, South Korea Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Day 13, Gangneung, USA – 21 Feb 2018
The aggregate of ability and athleticism in Evgenia Medvedeva’s skating is about incomparable in the history of the sport. Technically, she’s brilliant; the way she completes all-overs with her accoutrements over her arch is about a brag, as if to say, “These all-overs were accepting too boring, I had to accomplish them harder or I’d abatement asleep.” Artistically, she’s so affably animate that she draws in the absolute admirers with a distinct movement. You can’t breach your eyes abroad from her. It’s not aloof that you’re not blockage your buzz while she skates; Medvedeva makes you balloon that you anytime endemic a phone.
In the Olympic abbreviate program, Medvedeva skated flawlessly to the music of Chopin and set a new apple record. She charge accept breathed a huge blow of relief, “Surely THAT will accumulate the little jumping bean off my tail!” It was like that moment in a Halloween blur area Jamie Lee Curtis is assertive that she has assuredly dead Michael Myers, admitting accepting actually no proof. You can assumption what happened next; Alina Zagitova set a new apple record, toppling Medvedeva’s by 1.31 points. Now, Medvedeva charge appear from abaft to accomplish her afterlife of winning. By no agency would I calculation her out. She has added all-embracing acquaintance than Zagitova and her affairs basic array are the gold standard. I’m actual afraid though, because Medvedeva will be skating to Anna Karenina for her continued program. I’m afraid over the abstraction that this music best could be accidentally allegorical if Medvedeva becomes a adverse Russian charlatan herself, ashamed by an unstoppable advancing force. Okay, that was a bit much. Zagitova isn’t a train. But you get the point. This could be a asperous night for Medvedeva.
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Read more: The Best Exciting Contest to Watch Afore the 2018 Winter Olympics End
Alina Zagitova of Olympic Athlete from Russia competes in the Amount Skating Aggregation Accident on day three of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung, South Korea on February 12, 2018.
Alina Zagitova is peaking at the exact appropriate moment. And while I’m aggravating my hardest not to accomplish this Russian animosity into an All About Eve narrative, Alina isn’t allowance me out with her music choices. She actually skated to a assortment of Black Swan (the adventure of a ballerina apprenticed mad by the blackmail of actuality usurped) and Moonlight (a cine that won Best Picture over the accepted frontrunner). The apologue is appropriate there! Am I the alone one seeing this or has my animalism for able changeable rivalries apprenticed me mad? Alina’s abbreviate affairs bankrupt the apple almanac for a reason; her presentation was electric, her all-overs were fearless, in every moment she was actually alive.
If you anticipation Zagitova’s abbreviate affairs was impressive, get accessible for her chargeless skate to Don Quixote. Alina is affairs off a algebraic ambush to access her account that reminds me of article out of an Air Bud cine – the abashed adjudicator throwing his easily in the air while a dog bang dunks, “Technically there’s annihilation adjoin it in the rules!” In skating, a 10% benefit is added to the amount of any jump that is completed in the additional bisected of a program. And this benefit has a accurate reason; landing a jump on annoyed legs is way added difficult. For years, skaters accept put all-overs at the end of their programs to milk this benefit for added points. But afresh Alina had the acrimony to appear forth and ask, “What if I did ALL my all-overs in the additional half?” Some alarm it an animal way to align a program; others aloof alarm it unbalanced. Zagitova about kills time with spins and able for the aboriginal two account of her program, afore ablution into a ceaseless jump-a-palooza at the center mark. And it affectionate of… works? Zagitova’s atomic all-overs amalgamate with the able music to accomplish you feel like you’re watching a animal fireworks show. I actually apprehend the All-embracing Skating Union to change the rules to end this array of cardinal back-loading. But for now, I’m affectionate of amused that Zagitova is affairs off such a stunt. If she skates cleanly, I actually don’t see how she can lose the gold. And with that sentence, my jinx on Alina Zagitova is durably planted.
While Alina and Evgenia bound for gold, it’s up to the blow of the acreage to activity it out for bronze. I guess, mathematically, it’s accessible for these skaters to end up acceptable it all, but alone in the way that it’s technically accessible for Betsy DeVos to become admiral in the band of succession.
Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada in activity during the Women Distinct Abbreviate Affairs of the Amount Skating antagonism at the Gangneung Ice Arena during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, South Korea, 21 February 2018. Amount Skating – PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, Gangneung, Korea – 21 Feb 2018
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Reigning Apple argent advocate Kaetlyn Osmond couldn’t accept asked for a bigger skate in the abbreviate program, and currently sits in third place. Skating to an Edith Piaf medley, Osmond nailed all her all-overs while exuding a amorous bender evocative of Cyd Charisse. Is that advertence too old? For the kids in the audience, Cyd Charisse is array of like an old-Hollywood Catherine Zeta-Jones. And if you acquaint me you don’t apperceive who CZJ is, you can stop account appropriate now because you don’t deserve my insights. Osmond set a new claimed best in the abbreviate program, but she has struggled with putting calm two apple-pie programs in one event. If she can abstain a above adversity in the long, she’s in a solid position actuality to accomplish it on the podium. And at the end of the day, is there annihilation added Canadian than accomplishing your best and actuality blessed with your brownish medal? Shout out to Canadian bronze-snatching icon, Joannie Rochette!
Satoko Miyahara of Japan in activity during the Women Distinct Abbreviate Affairs of the Amount Skating antagonism at the Gangneung Ice Arena during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, South Korea, 21 February 2018. Amount Skating – PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, Gangneung, Korea – 21 Feb 2018
Satoko Miyahara was actually active up to her abeyant in her Memoirs of a Geisha abbreviate program. The four-time Japanese civic best has struggled with bloom issues, so it was a joy to see her assassinate all her all-overs cleanly. Admitting her choreography was impeccable, there was a bit of an affecting ambit amid Miyahara and the audience, article she’s activity to charge to breach through to abode college on the all-embracing level. While technically she has a attempt at gold, Miyahara was depressingly astute in an account afterwards the abbreviate program. Aback asked about her affairs to accomplish the podium, she replied, “I account alone about 20 percent. I am not actually at the akin yet area I can booty on the skaters at the top, and it is all I can do to win the activity with myself.” That adduce makes me appetite to grab her by the shoulders, attending her in the eyes and say, “Satoko! You. Are. Enough!” On the added hand, Miyahara has a addiction of under-rotating her jumps, so I’d say 20 percent is about right. God, she’s so sensible!
Kaori Sakamoto of Japan in activity during the Women Distinct Abbreviate Affairs of the Amount Skating antagonism at the Gangneung Ice Arena during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games, South Korea, 21 February 2018.
17 year-old Kaorki Sakamoto is authoritative a burst in her aboriginal division on the chief level, acceptable the Four Continents Championship in January, and acquisition Miyahara in the process. Sakamoto’s abbreviate affairs to “Moonlight Sonata” was actually entrancing, one of those able pieces that reminds you why amount skating forbade lyrics in music until a few years ago (no adumbration to the Belgian babe who skated to Madonna’s “Frozen”). Although she’s in 5th abode branch into the continued program, I don’t apprehend Sakamoto to acquire a badge in Pyeongchang. Afresh again, I anticipation it was crazy for TIME to put no-shot-at-gold Sarah Hughes on the awning afore the 2002 Olympics and she went advanced and won the accomplished thing. Do not accomplish Vegas bets based on my predictions.
Carolina Kostner of Italy aggressive in chargeless ball at Gangneung Ice Arena , Gangneung, South Korea Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Day 13, Gangneung, USA – 21 Feb 2018
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Artistically, Carolina Kostner is my admired skater in the apple appropriate now. Her abbreviate affairs to Celine Dion’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas” is alluringly choreographed such that every moment strikes you appropriate in the gut. Technically, however, she aghast in the abbreviate program, acceleration the additional bisected of a triple-triple admixture and putting a duke bottomward on a amateur loop. For that reason, Kostner is alone in 6thplace branch into the chargeless skate and is activity to charge some mistakes from the ladies advanced of her to echo her brownish badge accomplishment from Sochi. That Kostner is still aggressive with these teenagers is a accomplishment in itself. Carolina Kostner is 31-years-old in a activity that considers 25 year-olds basically Crypt-keepers. You’ll apprehension that commentators are consistently calling her “mature” so we don’t balloon her age. I accept absent to accord her acclaim for her longevity, but maybe we should affluence up on alleviative her like she’s Angela Lansbury? On the added hand, aback Kostner was Alina Zagitova’s age, Alina Zagitova was actuality born, so it’s a point account making. Regardless of how Kostner places, she will abide a fable continued afterwards Pyeongchang.
You’re activity to accept to tune in a little beforehand to see the American ladies in this event, because none of them placed aerial abundant to skate in the final accumulation in the continued program. Mirai Nagasu, Karen Chen, and Bradie Tennell sit in 9th, 10th, and 11th abode appropriately afterwards a set of all-a-quiver abbreviate programs.
Of these three, Nagasu has the best adventitious of jumping up in the standings, as she will be attempting a amateur axel in her Miss Saigon continued program. Aback she completed that jump in the aggregation event, she became alone the third woman to anytime acreage a amateur axel abundantly at the Olympics, allowance coalesce Aggregation USA’s brownish medal. In the abbreviate program, however, she over-rotated the jump and fell badly, abrogation her after a astute attempt at a medal.
Karen Chen was the U.S. Civic Best aftermost year and placed 4th at the Apple Championships, but has struggled this season. Perhaps the best complete artisan of the three Americans in the accident (the added two are added able-bodied accepted for their jumping prowess), Karen choreographed her programs herself, including her admirable abbreviate affairs to On Golden Pond. Abundant like Nagasu, Karen fabricated a cher aberration on her aboriginal jump and won’t be in the active for the podium.
If I had accounting this examination afore the abbreviate program, I would accept told you that U.S. Civic Best Bradie Tennell is butterfingers of falling. And then, on her actual aboriginal jumping canyon in the short, Bradie Tennell FELL. If there’s one affair this babe is accepted for, it’s consistency, but she doesn’t accept a ton of all-embracing acquaintance yet and it seems the fretfulness got to her. Skating to Cinderella in the continued program, you can acquaint Bradie capital this to be her absurd moment, but abominably her carrying angry aback into a attic able-bodied afore midnight. Outside of the aggregation accident and ice dance, it’s been a asperous Olympics for U.S. Amount Skating.
I achievement you’re aflame for the ballsy showdown amid Zagitova and Medvedeva tonight. It’s all-too-common in our ability to pit women adjoin women and bacchanal in changeable battle (see: bisected the programming on Bravo). But afresh again, clashing say, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, who are alone “competing” on an abstruse level, Medvedeva and Zagitova are absolutely actually aggressive for one thing: an Olympic gold. By all accounts, Medvedeva and Zagitova are training ally and friends. They accept the aforementioned drillmaster and won the aggregation argent for the Olympic Athletes from Russia together. So fine, I accord in, they’re apparently acclaim for anniversary other… to win silver. See, I can’t advice myself! “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s activity to be a aflutter night!”
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