Yulia Lipnitskaia may be the 15-year-old star at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but it may come to a shock that she almost quit ice skating five years ago when she had to choose to move from her small town to Moscow.
“For the first year I cried every day,” Lipnitskaia told Russian reporters at a press event last year. “When the time came to make the decision, we did not know what to do – to put everything into skating or just to stop.”
Yekaterinberg is a three-hour flight from Moscow and two times zones over. She started skating at four-years-old, but as she progressed the small city did not have the proper equipment or coaching she needed. When she moved to Moscow, coach Eteri Tutberidze took her in and she is home schooled.
Some feel she is doing too much and may burnout. They also feel she is taking too much on at one time and missing out on her childhood.
Valentin Piseev, the former head of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, repeatedly encouraged the skater’s mother Daniela to reduce her workload to prevent injuries.
“She is a workaholic,” Piseev told Russian newspaper Kommersant in December 2012. “She needs to be stopped so that she doesn’t overwork herself.”
But the teenager does take time off. In her spare time she paints, rides horses and travels with her parents. Last year, she scaled a smaller version of Mount Olympus on the island of Cyprus. Inspired by the name she took a rock and believes she can conquer these Olympics.
Her free skate in the ice skating team event sealed the gold medal for Russia with a score of over 141 points. Now she is considered one of the favorites to win the individual program over reigning champion Kim Yuna of South Korea. She will also face off against Japan’s Mao Asada and Italy’s Carolina Kostner. Americans Gracie Gold, Polina Edmunds and Ashley Wagner also want the gold.
“It is possible to win in Sochi,” she said after winning the recent European Championships. “Even Yuna showed that she doesn’t always skate ideally.”