The most nail-biting story of this Winter Olympics features two teenage girls from Russian Federation: 18-year-old Evgenia Medvedeva, the greatest female figure skater on the planet now competing, and 15-year-old Alina Zagitova, the teammate who's come to usurp her throne.
The two Russians early on February 21 stood in first and second place in the still-ongoing competition for the gold and silver medals in women's figure skating at the Winter Games in South Korea. But that milestone lasted for only minutes as 15-year-old Zagitova skated to a new world record right afterward, scoring a 82.92.
Medvedeva had set the previous mark for a short program in the team event, when her team won silver. Like Zagitova, she was 15 when she made her Olympic figure skating debut, and performed an exceedingly hard triple toe loop-half loop-triple salchow combination with just 12 seconds left in her program.
They are trying to follow up Russia's first ever women's skate title in Sochi four years ago, with Medvedeva recalling: "I was only 14 then".
"To be honest, I don't watch very much skating any more", said Button, a two-time Olympic gold medalist. Zagitova handled the free skate.
"Today wasn't my day, but my triple triple was still pretty good so I'm happy about that", Nagasu said.
While Zagitova has shown why a Gold medal would be well deserved, it would be a heartbreaking loss for Medvedeva, who has laser-focused on these Olympics.
Miyahara arrives at her first Winter Olympics as the four-time Japanese national champion. Nagasu, 24 and the fourth-place finisher in 2014 at Vancouver, earned 66.93 points, a season best, but was ninth. Nagasu finished second behind Zagitova in the team event free skate, proving her full point potential is high enough to land on the podium. Unfortunately, her inability to perform that free program error-free in competition this season makes me nervous. Zagitova is a double-take worthy 15 years old.
Zagitova has come out of nowhere however, only entering worldwide competition past year, and going on to win the European Championships in Moscow in January. Ashley Wagner, a 2014 Olympian and a US alternate in Pyeongchang, tweeted her displeasure while watching Zagitova's performance during the team competition. The reigning national champion is already a medalist at these Games, taking home a bronze for contributing her short program for the U.S.in the team event.
For more in-depth coverage of the ladies' short program, check out Olympic Ice featuring analysts Kristi Yamaguchi, Charlie White and Ben Agosto. No other female skater - not Zagitova, not Medvedeva - had gone fall-less this season. Chen put a hand down on her triple lutz and couldn't finish a combination jump.
Daleman is also a powerful jumper, and reintroducing her strong free program looks like a masterful stroke of strategy.
At the beginning of the season, I would have predicted with great confidence that Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva would skate unchallenged to the top of the podium. "It wasn't my best, but I am glad that I was the first one out there".