Yevgenia Medvedeva (pronounced yev-GHEN-ee-yuh med-VED-yev-uh) is an overwhelming favorite to capture ladies figure skating gold at the PyeongChang Olympics. The Russian teenager is the 2016 and 2017 world champion. Her strengths include consistency at competitions as well as her programs, which are jam-packed with technical difficulty.
Music this season:
Short program: Nocturne No. 20 by Chopin
Free skate: January Stars, Departure (Lullaby), Dona Nobis Pacem 2
Figure skating beginnings
Medvedeva was born on November 19, 1999 and was raised in Moscow, Russia. She started skating at the age 4 because her mother was a skating coach. She has been with the same coach, Eteri Tutberidze, since childhood. Tutberidze also coached Julia Lipnitskaya during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where Lipnitskaya earned a gold medal in the team event. Tutberidze calls Medvedeva “Zhenya.”
Tutberidze, known for her sometimes strong language and intense coaching techniques, told a story to a Russian documentary producer about Medvedeva as a young girl struggling with her landings of jumps. Tutberidze teased Medvedeva and dragged her around on the ice, taunting her and saying she must enjoy being on the ground so much because she kept falling. This apparently fired up Medvedeva – she called their “Zhenya in batter” exercises motivating – and she began to fight harder for successful landings.
Major competitions/ medals
Medvedeva and countrywoman Irina Slutskaya (in 2004-05) are the only two female skaters to win the Grand Prix Final, European Championships, Worlds and her country’s national championships all in one season. Medvedeva could do it twice, and add Olympic gold to the mix.
She is the first woman defend her World titles since Michelle Kwan in 2000 and 2001.
She hasn’t lost a competition since November 2015.
Medvedeva’s 2014-15 season was a breakthrough for her. She had been rising steadily through the junior Russian ranks, but in December 2014, she won the Junior Grand Prix Final. Later that season, in March 2015, she won gold at the World Junior Championships.
Medvedeva is the first skater to win gold at the world championships the year after winning the junior world title.
She also holds records for highest short program score, highest free skate score, and highest overall points total:
- Short program score: 80.85 (2017 World Team Trophy)
- Free skate score: 154.50 (2017 World Championships)
- Overall: 233.41 (2017 World Championships)
Medvedeva is best known for her jumps, which she often completes with both arms above her head. Her consistency from competition to competition – she last lost in November 2015 – is another of her major strengths.
“Technically, she’s one of the strongest that we have ever seen in this sport. I really admire what she’s bringing to ladies skating,” – 2014 U.S. Olympian Ashley Wagner
Medvedeva would make her Olympic debut in PyeongChang.
Outside the rink
Medvedeva loves K-Pop and would one day love to skate to Exo’s music.
She loves anime shows and cartoons. Medvedeva always holds a stuffed animal – a cat named Luna, from the show Sailor Moon – in the Kiss and Cry at competitions. She even did a Sailor Moon exhibition program in 2016. She told Buzzfeed that she loves the show Yuri!!! On Ice as well because it reminds her of her real life at the rink, especially the areas and even the hotel rooms.
In school, Medvedeva mostly studies math, Russian, and biology. She learned English by doing interviews, competitions and press conferences, on top of speaking English with friends and watching the British television show “Sherlock,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.