It’s Day 263 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project, and watching Evgenia Medvedeva lose the 2018 Olympic Women’s Figure Skating gold medal to her teammate Alina Zagitova has many reliving iconic Michelle Kwan’s Olympic loss twenty years later. And I’m not the only one. Michelle Kwan’s Olympic debut occurred at age thirteen when she competed as an alternate. Even then, she stood out. Four years later, at seventeen, artistry made her angelic while an ability to land jumps made her a national and world champion many times over. She skated with her heart on her sleeve and held the hearts of Americans in her hands. By the 1998 games, the only title she’d yet to claim was Olympic Gold Medalist. The world stage was set for that to occur and seventeen-year-old Michelle rose to the occasion with what appeared to be the winning skate. But that was before fifteen-year-old Tara Lipinski took the ice. With a more technically difficult program containing several triple jumps, Tara knocked Michelle into the silver medal spot and took the top one on the podium, causing shock waves that still reverberate today. I won’t go so far as to say Michelle was robbed, but some do. The similarities between Michelle’s story and that of the Olympic Athlete from Russia, Evgenia, are so uncanny it’s no wonder her upset has many of us reliving Michelle’s Olympic loss two decades later.
Thursday night, figure skating fans were poised to witness the dramatic skate off between Russian training mates: eighteen-year-old Evgenia and fifteen-year-old Alina. They were in second and first place respectively, going into the free skate. Like Michelle, Evgenia’s artistic flair, emotional connection to her music, technical ability, and winning streak over the last two years leading up to the Olympics had placed her in gold medal favorite position. But just like Michelle with Tara, the younger skater posed a threat. The media hyped this up as Evgenia, The Queen, being chased by The Princess, Alina. When it came down to the skate that would change their careers, both delivered clean, strong programs. Alina skated first and was technically savvy. Eugenia was the final skater of the evening and was not only great technically but sublime with her skating. In my opinion, the latter evoked much of the emotion Michelle always did. And it was rewarded the same way – with a silver medal.
Witnessing an upset that could be chalked up to the judges rewarding a routine that was backloaded with jumps during the last two minutes to earn a 10% bonus but lacked a bit of artistry instead of one that was choreographed and executed beautifully to display artistry and jumping ability has left me brokenhearted and disillusioned with the judging system. What happened to having the total package?
As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose woman, I don’t begrudge Tara or Alina their gold medals. They worked hard and earned them. I’m just sad that two skaters who worked so much longer to reach the status they did didn’t win the culminating prize. Was Evgenia robbed? I’m not saying that, but again, many are having a fit! Why the fuss? She’s only eighteen and could come back in 2022, right? After all, Michelle did in 2002 – to have sixteen-year-old Sarah Hughes win the gold and her the bronze. Michelle competed for eight years after the 1998 Olympics. (Tara retired almost immediately after winning and Sarah did the year after she won). Still, though she never won the gold, Michelle has conducted herself with as much grace off the ice as she did on it. She went on to earn a Master’s and to serve as a goodwill ambassador for the US. Twenty years after her Olympic loss, she still displays the true heart of a champion. My prayer is that Evgenia will follow in Michelle’s skates.
As a Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose reader, what’s your take on this trending topic?
Be savvy & chic,
~Pink Collar Coach