Winter Games Athletes
Sotnikova debuted at the senior level in the 2009 Russian championships and won gold at the age of 12, and she’s won that title three more times in the past four years while giving her home country a hopeful medal contender in Sochi. She’s won silver at the past two European championships, finishing behind Italy’s Carolina Kostner in 2013 and fellow Russian teen sensation Julia Lipnitskaia this year. She led Lipnitskaia after the short program in the competition that took place just weeks before Sochi, but a brief stumble while two-footing the landing on her opening triple lutz was enough to make the difference between gold and silver. While Sotnikova certainly has the skill to wind up on the podium in Sochi, it won’t be easy. Lipnitskaia is carrying as much or more momentum into the Games, while Kostner and fellow veterans Mao Asada, Kim Yu-na and Akiko Suzuki are all probably a step ahead at this point in their careers. For Sotnikova, who finished ninth in her only world championship experience in 2013, this could only be the beginning. And if she can land that triple lutz in Sochi and continue with what was essentially a flawless short program at the Euro championships, she may wind up with a medal in her Olympic debut.