In PyeongChang, Russian skaters Alina Zagitova and Yevgenia Medvedeva dominated the competition, blowing out the field with their grace and effortless jumps. Four years later, countrywoman Kamila Valieva is picking up just where they left off. What’s incredible is four years ago no one knew her name or would’ve thought she would be the skater everyone would be chasing at the 2022 Winter Games. Why? She was just 11 years old. Here are five things you should know about the Russian teen.
What do all five also have in common? Their coach, Eteri Tutberidze. She is coaching Russian figure skaters for the third consecutive Games.
The three training partners are aiming to sweep the podium in the women’s event. If they pull off the feat, it would be the first podium sweep in Olympic history in the event. The trio swept the podium at the 2021 World Championships.
Quads, quads, quads
Valieva didn’t waste any time making history at the Olympics. She became the first woman to successfully compete a quad at the Olympics during the women’s free skate in the team event. Valieva landed two quad jumps total, falling on her third, and scored a 178.92, she bested her competition by over 30 points.
The teenager will attempt to land three again in her free skate for the women’s event. The Russians are the only women who are likely to land quads at the 2022 Winter Games. The quad, a four-revolution jump, was long thought to be impossible for women skaters and, for them, is only allowed in the free skate; some men, meanwhile, include two quads in their short program. Her ability to land quads means she could win by 20 points, which is a very large margin in figure skating.
New face on tour
She’s only been competing at the senior level for months, not years. Valieva made her senior Grand Prix debut this past October at Skate Canada. Her first senior performance wasn’t just respectable, she set world records in the free skate and total overall score.
She didn’t coast her way into the Olympics. In January, she broke her own short program world record with a score of 90.45. It was the first time a woman figure skater surpassed the 90-point mark under the current scoring system.
She finished her first senior international season undefeated. Heading into the Olympics, she won two of the toughest championships, the Russian and European Championships. The Russian Championship is considered the hardest national championship to win, as the top six-ranked skaters in the world are Russian.
Artist on-and-off the ice
Valieva began skating at age 3. Two years later she began ballet. Her training off the ice in ballet shines in her routines.
She also loves to paint, which has been the inspiration for her routines before. Her final short program at the novice level “Girl on the Ball” was inspired by Pablo Picasso’s painting with the same name. Her costume was even designed to be the same as the girl in the painting.
Last month, Russian artist Aleksandr Sadykov surprised Valieva with his own rendition of Picasso’s painting and gifted it to her.
The teen is known for her artistry just as much as her powerful quads and jumps. She has previously said she knew she was destined to compete in the Olympics by kindergarten.
On a more lighthearted note, she has an adorable dog named Leo. She and the pooch are often seen on her Instagram, where her smile is bright posing with her pup. She has said he helps calm her.
She got the dog after her Junior Grand Prix win in 2019. Her fans in Russia wanted to get her a gift and her mom said she could get a dog.