Julia Lipnitskaia: 15-Year-Old Russian Figure Skater the Next Superstar?

Image: Julia Lipnitskaia: 15-Year-Old Russian Figure Skater the Next Superstar?

Tuesday, 11 Feb 2014 12:33 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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After leading the Russian figure skating team to the country's first gold medal in the Sochi Olympics, 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia is setting herself up to be the world's next teenage skating superstar.

Lipnitskaia's near flawless performance in the team competition propelled Russia to the top of the medal stand. The win made the 5-foot-2-inch Lipnitskaia the youngest Russian athlete to ever win an Olympic medal and the second-youngest gold medalist in the history of figure skating at the Olympics, according to the Washington Post. 

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While some may be surprised by the level of Lipnitskaia's performance at her young age, the fact is many skating enthusiasts predicted she would be successful. Lipnitskaia won the world junior skating championship at 13 in 2012, and nabbed a silver medal at the same competition in 2013, according to USA Today's For the Win blog. 

She followed that up by winning the European championships last month, beating teammate Adelina Stoknikova, carrying a ton of momentum into the Sochi Olympics.

American Tara Lipinski, the youngest woman to win the individual women's gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, told CBS Sports that she can see Lipnitskaia's unflappable confidence. 

"Judging from how prepared she looks — I can see it when they step on the ice — she looks like she believes this is her moment," Lipinski said. "Obviously she's a tough girl. To be in this sport and take the hits; you have to be. She is the real package."

The pressure for Lipnitskaia will only mount as she prepares for the individual skating competition and heightened expectations of her home country.

Lipinski said that she thinks the young Russian will be just fine.

"A lot of skaters can do the triple-triples and put out a performance," Lipinski told CBS Sports. "But to be able to do it when it counts is a special quality. I believe she is so special."

She has already impressed American skating competitor Ashley Wagner, who told the Miami Herald that Lipnitskaia's poise sets her apart.

"Granted, we've been backstage with her and she doesn't seem 15 to us at all," Wagner said. "She's like a wise 40-year-old woman trapped within a 15-year-old's body. Honestly, it is very inspiring to see someone so young so composed." 

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