Winter Games Athletes
The youngest competitor in the field of the 2014 European championships also became the youngest winner, and with that, Lipnitskaia put herself on the map and announced her arrival as a medal threat in the Games that will take place on her home soil. While many of the top contenders in the ladies’ figure skating competition are veterans who are on the verge of retiring from the sport, Lipnitskaia is just getting started. Lipnitskaia may be a newcomer on the world stage, but she’s been a prodigy in Russia for the past four years. Her first big moment came in the 2012 Russian championships, when she won silver on the senior level at age 13 - in the midst of her dominating career at the junior level. She came in second again at nationals in late December - the second time she’s finished behind Adelina Sotnikova - but bested her 17-year-old rival at the Euro championships, passing Sotnikova with a stunning free skate performance set to John Williams’ score from "Schindler’s List." Lipnitskaia is the first Russian winner of the event since Irina Slutskaya, and now she’ll try to follow in her footsteps again in Sochi after Slutskaya took home bronze at the 2006 Games and silver in 2002. No Russian woman has won individual Olympic gold, but Lipnitskaia could be a darkhorse to do so in Sochi in what’s likely to be her first of a few Olympic experiences.