- Figure Skating
Halfway to medal, Carolina Kostner skating with new purpose in Sochi
SOCHI, Russia – Four years ago, Carolina Kostner left the Vancouver ice after her free skate with her head clutched between her arms, barely able to stand after delivering what she herself might tell you was the worst performance of her life.
Thursday night in Sochi she could win an Olympic medal.
At 27, the Italian delivered a stirring performance Wednesday in the short program of the ladies’ singles event, skating to “Ave Maria” and equaling the music with her beauty across the ice.
Embedded video_content_type: Carolina Kostner set to medal after short program
“After Vancouver I thought that was it,” said Kostner, who sits in third place, less than a point from first. “I thought I would stop skating. I thought that was my end.”
One of the oldest skaters still competing on the international level, Kostner performed with the kind of steadied grace that only a veteran can possess. Long known as a soft and emotive skater, Kostner was her vintage self and poised in delivery.”
“I wanted to skate because I love it,” she said of why she decided to continue after Vancouver. “The hard times make you understand what you really want and I'm really glad that I continued and honored to have experienced everything that I have in the past years.”
Embedded owg_slideshow: Yuna Kim leads after ladies figure skating short program in Sochi
After placing ninth at the Torino Games, Kostner plummeted to 16th in Vancouver, but chose to skate on, winning the World Championships in 2012 and tacking on two more European and National Championship titles.
She skated after Yulia Lipnitskaya Wednesday night at the Sochi Games in an arena that was meant to be bursting with applause for the 15-year-old. Yet, after a surprising fall from the Russian, Carolina began to crickets, moving with building heart.
Skating in a sparkling, layered white and silver dress, Kostner came through in the exact opposite way that she fell apart in Vancouver, moving the audience with her fluid performance.
“Stunning,” said two-time Olympian Johnny Weir, a commentator for NBC Sports.
Embedded video_content_type: Carolina Kostner grabs second for Italy in ladies short program of team event
“So long we have been thinking of Carolina as the artist,” added 1998 Olympic champion Tara Lipinski, also a NBC Sports commentator, “but her technique; she took everything down a grade and then built it back up these last four years. That was the whole package. ”
It’s a far cry from where she was days after Vancouver.
“I just believed that that was my limit,” Kostner remembered. “But something just told me that it's not about the result, it's about the personal experience, that is what is most important.”
RELATED: Lipnitskaya defeats Kostner at European Championships
Kostner didn’t have a convincing season. After failing to advance to the Grand Prix Final, she skipped the Italian Nationals and set about re-tooling both her programs, changing them with the Olympics in mind.
“When I was in my beginning position, I was scared out of my mind,” Kostner said, smiling. “I don't know, it just came together. Skating isn't about the medals or the results. I love what I do. It's much more fun to win, but you cannot every time.”
“She was the surprise of the night,” said Lipinski. “I would never have thought that coming in. She’s so relaxed and in the right head space. It would be such an upset if she could win gold.”
“Stranger things have happened,” Weir added.”
If anything, Kostner only hopes for a performance better than what she put out in Vancouver four years ago. What’s the best way she can approach her Sochi free skate?
“To not think about it,” she said.
Embedded video_content_type: Yulia Lipnitskaya mesmerizes in figure skating team event
Best of Sochi