Nadia Comaneci, Tara Lipinski, Shawn Johnson, Gabby Douglas. All of these names have something in common – they were young girls to enter Olympic competition and capture the hearts of millions of people around the world. Their youth, innocence, and talent made people fall in love with them. Now we can add another name to that list – Russian figure skater Julia Lipnitskaia.
Julia Lipnitskaia (also referred to as Yulia Lipnitskaya) is just 15 years old and turns 16 in June. She made the cut-off date for Olympic eligibility by 26 days.
She almost quit figure skating a couple of times in the past. About five years ago she was forced to make a decision – continue skating at a high level or give up on a future in figure skating. She was becoming so strong at her craft that the competition and the coaching was not strong enough for her to take the next step. In order to continue pursuing a career in figure skating, she would have to make the move from her hometown of Yekaterinburg to Moscow. It was a difficult decision to make of whether to invest her whole life into figure skating or to give up and live a different life. She chose figure skating and you can be sure Russia, and the rest of the world for that matter, are very thankful she did.
A couple of years ago she ran into another problem as she suffered an injury to her ankle. She was also dealing with puberty and had grown a few inches. It was becoming difficult for her to imagine being the same skater she once was with everything she was going through, but she persevered and kept focused on what she truly wanted to be – an Olympian.
Lipnitskaia would eventually heal from her injury and get used to being taller. She would go on to the 2014 European Championships where she would begin to leave her mark. There weren't high expectations for her, but whatever people expected from her she surpassed.
Here is a video of one of Lipnitskaia's performances from the 2014 European Championships. She would go on to win the whole competition which cemented her spot for Sochi. This routine is called "You Don't Give Up On Love"
She captures your attention right away as she starts off by drawing a heart on the ice. It is supposed to represent a girl drawing a heart in the sand on the beach. Her graceful skating and effortless turns make it look so easy that you forget the difficulty of what she is doing. She demonstrates incredible flexibility and strength. Julia does a great job staying in character throughout the whole piece and finishes it off by redrawing the heart in the sand because the waves had washed it away.
That is the same routine that she has already done at this year's Olympics in the team competition and she will likely use it again in the short program. She has a routine for the free skate based on Schindler's List which is also incredible.
The Olympics have just barely begun, but Russia's Julia Lipnitskaia has already stolen the hearts of many watching her around the world. Everyone watching wants their home country to win the gold medal, but there will be a small (or big) place in everyone's heart that wants Lipnitskaia to win.
It's almost like she brings you back to your youth. Being that young and talented and enjoying what you do. Her ability to remain focused and composed, along with having fun, is what many people dream of doing at the biggest stage.
She is probably the favorite moving into the short program and the free skate, and rightfully so. She has the look, the innocence, the skill, the face, and to top it off she's performing in her home country. She couldn't have asked for a better place to start her Olympic journey.
The short program takes place on February 19, while the free skate is on February 20. Be sure to watch Lipnitskaia as she gets ready to take on the likes of Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond and United States' Gracie Gold. It is setting up to be an exciting two days and we can't wait until it's finally here.
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