Who is Alina Zagitova?
Russian figure skater Alina Zagitova won the 2017 world junior title and then ascended to the senior ranks. She won the 2017 Grand Prix Final title in the absence of her training partner and two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva.
Music this season:
- Short program: Selections from "Black Swan" by Clint Mansell
- Free skate: Selections from "Don Quixote" by Leon Minkus
Figure skating beginnings
Zagitova was born May 18, 2002 and wasn’t named for the first year of her life. Her mother and father, who is an ice hockey coach, finally settled on “Alina,” after the Russian rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva. Kabaeva won two Olympic medals: bronze in 2000 and gold in 2004.
Zagitova began skating when she was 5 years old and living in Izhevsk, Russia. Her mother never skated, but wanted her daughter to be athletic. She moved to Moscow in 2015 to train with famed coach Eteri Tutberidze.
Tutberidze trains Medvedeva, the two-time world champion, as well as a host of strong junior ladies.
Major competitions/ medals
During her final year as a junior skater, Zagitova was nearly perfect. She competed at two Junior Grand Prix assignments in the fall, winning in France and earning a bronze in Slovenia. She won the Junior Grand Prix Final title in December. She won the Russian junior national title, and finished second behind Medvedeva on the senior level.
Still not old enough to be sent to senior assignments, Zagitova continued her season at the 2017 European Youth Olympics which she won. She also won the world junior title to finish her season.
Once eligible for the senior ranks, Zagitova continued to gain momentum. She started her season at Lombardia Trophy in Italy, which she won. She won both of her Grand Prix assignments – in France and China – and won the Grand Prix Final title, too. (Of note, Medvedeva was absent from the Final due to a broken bone in her foot.)
Zagitova is known for “back-loading” her programs: All of her jumps are in the second half of her program and therefore receive a 10 percent bonus on their Grades of Execution.
She sometimes faces criticism for not having “well-balanced” programs; however, no rules prohibit her from maximizing her scores in such a way. She was the first skater to utilize this method for all her jumps.
Another of Zagitova’s trademarks is coming from behind to win the event. Take her Grand Prix assignments, for example. At Cup of China, she was fourth after the short program but came back to win the overall event. Then, in France, she was fifth after the short program but bounced back to take the gold again. At the Grand Prix Final, she sat second after the short program but won the free skate and the overall title. Her mentality, she explained, is to “start from scratch and […] go out with a cool head.”
“I do all my jumps in the second half and for it not to look like I’m doing only jumps, I had to do them exactly on the music with the other elements to make the components visible.” – Zagitova explained her choice to back-load her programs
“I think that Zhenya (Medvedeva) is her role model in life, in behavior, in her way to work. Alina absolutely tries to copy her way to work, the amount of work and she doesn’t stop. This helps. I can sometimes show Zhenya and say, ‘look, how Alina is working,’ and I tell Alina, ‘look, how Zhenya is working.'” – Coach Eteri Tutberidze on the rivalry between training partners Alina Zagitova and Yevgenia Medvedeva
Zagitova’s first Olympics would be in PyeongChang.
Outside the rink
She lives in Moscow with her grandmother, and her parents and younger sister remained in Izhevsk. Her sister, Sabina, is also a skater. She keeps a pet chinchilla too, which her grandmother cares for while she is away at competitions.
Zagitova also enjoys drawing and rhinestoning in her spare time.