Skater Nearly Booted for Slacking Off Wins Gold

Alina Zagitova finished ahead of compatriot, 18
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 23, 2018 12:45 AM CST
15-Year-Old Wins First Gold for Russians
Gold medalist Alina Zagitova, centre, of the Olympic Athletes of Russia poses for a photo with compatriot and silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva, left, and bronze medalist Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada at the women's free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung,...   (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

A few years back, Alina Zagitova nearly was sent home from training for not working hard enough. Now, she heads home with Olympic gold, the first for the Russians at the Pyeongchang Olympics. A grateful nation—upset that their flag, anthem, and dozens of athletes were banned from the games because of a doping scandal—can thank the 15-year-old who beat the 18-year-old who had inspired her to become a figure skater, Evgenia Medvedeva. They can also thank their coach, Eteri Tutberidze, who gave the less-than-diligent Zagitova one more chance to prove herself when she wanted to quit, the AP reports.

"My hands were shaking, but my body was doing everything I'd trained to do," Zagitova said Friday after a rare tie in the free skate earned her the top spot because she beat Medvedeva in the short program two days earlier, when both women broke the previous world record score. "I can't believe I am the champion." Zagitova's victory in one of the games' spotlight events ended the gold drought for the Russians and added another chapter to her battle with her friend and training partner. It could become a skating rivalry for the ages. "I've got a big life in sports ahead of me and I want to keep going for many years," Medvedeva said. "I can do more in this sport," Zagitova added. Kaetlyn Osmond won bronze to give Canada four overall medals in figure skating.

(More 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics stories.)

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