Earlier this week, 19-year-old Sendai-native Yuzuru Hanyu overcame a slightly flawed program to grab the first-ever men’s Olympic gold medal in figure skating for Japan. Japanese fans celebrated the victory with a plethora of fanart dedicated to Yuzuru by both professional manga artists and amateurs.
At the time of this writing, the ladies short program is just underway in Sochi. Japan’s Mao Asada is back, and looks to claim gold after falling short to her longtime rival, reigning “Queen” Yuna Kim of South Korea, in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Although the field is filled with several seasoned veterans, 15-year old overnight celebrity Julia Lipnitskaya of Russia in particular promises to put up a good fight. Yulia dominated the competition last week, helping her country claim gold in the new Olympic team figure skating event held for the first time at these games. If you recall, Tara Lipinski was only 15 when she won the 1998 Nagano Olympics…
One thing that sets Yulia apart is her incredible composure and focus despite participating on the world stage at such a young age. And she’s certainly not afraid to speak her mind, as some reporters recently found out the hard way…
Yulia’s extreme flexibility is one reason to keep an eye on her as a future star of figure skating. Upon seeing her perform her signature spin during the team competition last week, announcer and former Olympian Scott Hamilton commented, “I get cramps every time I see that.”
▼Yulia’s hyperextension in a spiral sequence!
Check out this video of her in action at the 2014 European Figure Skating Championships, held last month in Budapest, Hungary where she came in first place:
While still a bit unpolished artistically, her flexibility and technical skills combine to make Yulia a veritable firecracker on the ice…and apparently off, too. A screenshot of Yulia surfaced online after an Olympic practice session yesterday, with the following caption (you can view the picture here):
Lipnitskaya (15 years old): “Practice went well. Except that the mass media kept getting in the way…“
…Ouch. Guess she’s not afraid to speak her mind to the international press. But the competition’s so tough, she does need to concentrate 100 percent of her energy on practicing.
Here’s what Japanese netizens had to say after seeing the picture:
“She deserves a gold medal for that.”
“I laughed at how straightforward she is.”
“She’s too cool!”
“Her expression is too much.”
“She’s such a big-shot, haha.”
“She must be a sadist.”
“Is she saying it to all the mass media out there, or specifically to Japan’s?”
“I applaud her for having the guts to say that to the paparazzi.”
Be sure to watch the ladies free program tomorrow as the top skaters battle it out for the gold!