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Yulia Lipnitskaya performing her skate program to the music of "Schindler's List"

Yulia Lipnitskaya performing her skate program to the music of “Schindler’s List”

Everyone knows the 22nd Winter Olympics is going on right now. In Russia. Where it’s freezing cold. Not my idea of a super fun time. I mean, it would be an experience of a lifetime to get to watch (or participate in!) the Olympic games in person. I simply feel that contracting hypothermia while doing so would make the whole ordeal not quite worth it. So I’m perfectly content with watching my favorite events, a.k.a. whatever NBC happens to be showing at the time, from the TV in my living-room. I guess that’s what being from the South does to you.

Obviously I’m not some hardcore “I-have-to-watch-every-event-and-cheer-on-my-favorite-athletes-GO-USA!” fan of the Olympics. I thoroughly enjoy watching the opening ceremony and deciding which countries’ outfits are my favorites. After that’s done, and I tire of hearing the announcer call out “Russia!” “The United States of America!” “Norway!” etc. in that iconic voice of hers, I wait until I get to watch my absolute favorite event: Figure Skating. Sure, every event is interesting (with the exception of maybe curling), but this one always manages to capture and maintain my attention more than the rest.

Figure Skating is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and sophisticated activities a person can learn to do. A close friend of mine from middle school is a figure skater, an exceptionally talented one at that. I remember she would attend practice before school several days a week, and whenever we had free time during gym class she would attempt to teach me some of her moves. This girl was dedicated. It takes a lot of strength, agility, focus, and gracefulness to do what she and so many others around the world do so well.

Now, I’ve only been ice skating a handful of times in my life, so I am certainly not an expert on the subject. Not even close. But when I sat down to watch the women’s free skate a few days ago, I knew I was about to see some amazing talent. And I wasn’t disappointed. Everything from the stunning costume, to the fluid and perfectly timed movements, to the beautiful accompanying music, it was all perfect. The judges didn’t always think so, but I wanted to run out and give every one of them a gold medal simply for sharing such talent. Especially the ones who fell – I think they deserve a medal just for getting back up and continuing. I’m pretty sure I would stay there on the ice until I mustered up enough courage to crawl away and hide for the rest of my life. I don’t handle embarrassing moments well.

Anyways, hopefully you have heard that the girl who won gold was none other than 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya of Russia. She unquestionably blew me away with her performance set to John Williams’ Schindler’s List. Her score of 141.51 (combined total: 214.41) is astonishing. Not only is she Russia’s youngest Winter Olympic gold medalist, she is the world’s youngest gold medalist in figure skating history! That’s amazing! Her performance left me and countless others speechless. The thing that took me most by surprise was the fact that she simply did not seem nervous or anxious from the moment she stepped out on ice to the moment she finished. Yulia was focused and at the end you could see the joy bright upon her face as she received a standing ovation.

Yulia Lipnitskaya is no doubt my hero. Her program was undoubtly one of the best in history, and yet she still wants to improve: not because others told her she needed to, but because she wants to do what she knows is her best. She didn’t let the circumstances of being in a huge stadium at the world’s most prestigious competition cause her any anxiety; she went for it and performed splendidly. I learned a few great lessons from this:

  • Work hard at what you love so you can reach your highest potential.
  • Even if you are young, you can be an inspiration to others.
  • Don’t let others opinions or your circumstances determine who you are.

I trust that you’ve enjoyed reading my take on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to see Yulia perform! Until then though, stay warm, watch all of the other amazing athletes do their thing, and remember to stay positive. If you have a favorite athlete or event that I should watch, let me know in the comments!

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