Figure Skating: Zagitova vs. Medvedeva

By, Dayoon Chang

She has been undefeated for the past two seasons. During the span of two years, the Russian has captured two World titles, two National titles, and one European title. She was the favorite for the Olympic gold. Yet, one fateful day, she had to settle for silver at the coveted Olympic Games. This is the story of Evgenia Medvedeva.

Many say that she is one of the most consistent skaters. Others say that she is the most dominant female figure skater in the history of figure skating at only age 18. Ever since November 2015, avid fans from around the world saw Evgenia Medvedeva put out a flawless program at every single competition.

However, on February 22, 2018, audiences in the Gangneung Ice Arena witnessed one of the biggest rivalries in the history of figure skating. Ultimately, it was the younger of the two, Alina Zagitova, who snatched the gold medal by only a 1.31 point margin.

Alina Zagitova is the newcomer in this competitive field. Having only competed at the junior level last year, 2018 marks her senior debut on the world stage. Despite her lack of senior experience at the tender age of 15, Alina seemed to be catching up to Evgenia as the season progressed. Even more gripping is that these two competitors share the same coach and skate for the same country, Russia. They not only compete against each other frequently, but also watch each other train vigorously to become the best in the world every day. Thus, as the Pyeongchang Olympics approached, many figure skating fans were already debating over who was going to get the gold in Pyeongchang. Philip Hersh, an Olympics Sports writer, even wrote prior to the beginning of the Games that this “little war between Zagitova and Medvedeva” is one to watch for.

Yet, when these two athletes are asked what they personally feel about all this so-called rumpus over their blooming rivalry, neither have much to say about it. “I try not to think about [the competition between us] and I try to focus just on myself,” says Alina. “I don’t go out there to prove something to someone. I just want to skate clean for myself.” She adds, “Zhenya and I are friends,” using Evgenia’s nickname.

Evgenia thinks the same. She says that, “I hear so many news that Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva are opponents on the ice and off the ice, [but] we are humans, we communicate as usual, we are friends.” She added, “we are girls, young girls. We can talk about everything to each other.” Berneece T. ‘19, who watched the ladies event, notes that “It’s incredible to watch the support that figure skaters have for each other throughout the competition despite fighting for the same prize.”

Although they might be striving for the same goal, these two skaters are complete opposites on the ice. To most skating audiences, Evgenia is the more emotive of the two. Skating to the quintessential Anna Karenina for her free skate this year, she skated as Anna Karenina herself, portraying every emotion and tragedy.


Meanwhile, Alina Zagitova is the master technician of the ladies field. She is the only one who backloads all her jumps for the extra 10% bonus to maximize her technical score to the fullest.


And so, the Olympics came down to this question: artistry or technique? The organization of Alina’s program coupled with her ability to pull off the jumps gave her the edge.  

However, as a figure skater myself, Evgenia, skating last in the event, delivered the iconic “Olympic Moment” as they call it. Bursting into tears at the end of her performance, heart wrenched fans lovingly showered stuffed animals onto the ice. The performance was so detail oriented, from the extension of her legs to the slightest movements of her fingertips. When her score was announced, you could hear the confusion from the audience from the background. Yet, the result cannot be changed. What would you pick? Artistry or technique?