Russian athletes underlined their country’s status as a global figure skating powerhouse by dominating on the ice at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games. Every single one of Russia’s young skaters won a medal and they secured at least one spot on every podium.
The brightest star of a near faultless Russian team at Hamar Olympic Stadium was Polina Tsurskaya. Lying fourth after the short programme in the women’s competition, Polina made a stunning comeback in the free two days later, beating her compatriot Maria Sotskova to the gold by more than 15 points.
“I’m very satisfied that I did everything I was supposed to do,” said the victorious Polina, who is also the reigning junior world champion. “I was proud that my national anthem was playing because of me. Because of my achievements, we did well in the Youth Olympic Games.”
Russia also took gold in the pairs and ice dance competitions, thanks respectively to Ekaterina Borisova and Dmitry Sopot and Anastasia Shpilevaya and Grigory Smirnov, while there were bronze medals for Dmitri Aliev in the men’s, Alina Ustimkina and Nikita Volodin in the pairs and Anastasia Skoptcova and Kiriil Aleshin in the ice dance.
Yamamoto defies Russian dominance
The only event the Russians failed to win was the men’s competition, where Sota Yamamoto made the gold his after bringing the free programme to a close with a superb routine.
The rest of the figure skating medals went to Latvia’s Deniss Vasiljevs (silver in the men’s singles), Kazakhstan’s Elizabet Tursynbaeva (bronze in the women’s), Czech Republic’s Anna Duskova and Martin Bidar (silver in the pairs) and the USA’s Chloe Lewis and Logan Bye (silver in ice dance).
Though Chew Kai Xiang, the first athlete to represent Malaysia at an Olympic Winter Games, may not have won a medal in the men’s singles, he hopes his example will lead to the development of the sport back home. Chew had the chance to medal in the mixed NOC team event, but fell while skating for Team Motivation, who had to settle for fourth place.
A wonderful competition unique to the YOG and in which ice dancers, pairs and singles skaters of both sexes come together to form teams comprising a mix of different nationalities, the mixed NOC event brought the figure skating to a close at Hamar.
Dmitri Aliev ensured the competition ended on a suitably high note by skating a stunning routine to the sound of Notre Dame de Paris. His performance sealed the gold for Team Desire, which also featured China’s Li Xiangning, Sarah Rose and Joseph Goodpaster of the USA, and fellow Russian pair Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin, with Team Future and Team Discovery taking the silver and bronze respectively.