If you thought I, Tonya was the most dramatic few hours of women’s figure skating you’d see in 2018, the Winter Olympics set out to beat that record on Thursday night.
Though 18-year-old Russian competitor Evgenia Medvedeva was expected to dominate in PyeongChang, she finished Wednesday’s short program in second place, behind 15-year-old teammate Alina Zagitova. But which young woman finished Thursday’s free skate at the top of the podium?
In the end, Zagitova eked out a win over Medvedeva, earning the gold medal with a score of 239.57. Medvedeva nabbed silver (with a score of 238.26), and Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond, who had finished the short program in third place, received the bronze.
But the rivalry between Russia’s top two figure skaters played out until the final seconds of the broadcast; after finishing an emotional routine inspired by Anna Karenina, Medvedeva sobbed as gifts were tossed onto the ice — then looked a bit shell-shocked when it was announced that she had not surpassed Zagitova.
But even though all the figure skating medals have now been awarded, we have a few extra superlatives we’d like to give out after taking in the ladies’ routines:
MOST HEARTBREAKING PERFORMANCE | Quite a few women stumbled on the ice Thursday, but it was Canada’s Gabrielle Daleman who had the roughest go of all. After first faltering on a triple-triple combination — an element she’s known for acing — Daleman fell down on her next four jumps, each one seeming to rattle her a bit more. As soon as her music stopped, the 20-year-old burst into tears — and really, who could blame her?
MOST ADORABLE SPECTATOR | As Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx glided onto the ice to begin her performance, brother Jorik — who also competed in figure skating in PyeongChang — was so nervous to watch his sibling, he couldn’t even look at her until her routine had already started. With all due respect to the Shib Sibs, this might have been the cutest brother-sister moment in the Gangneung Ice Arena.
SWEETEST FLASHBACK | Just before the United States of America’s Bradie Tennell began skating to selections from the Cinderella soundtrack, we were treated to a precious childhood photo of Tennell dressed up as the iconic Disney princess. The 20-year-old ended up taking a few tumbles during her performance, but I like to think Prince Charming would forgive those. (Those skates are much more complicated than glass slippers, after all.)
MOST APPROPRIATE MUSIC | She may not have ended the evening with a medal, but South Korea’s Kim Ha-Nul skated to some seriously relevant music: selections from Mamma Mia!, including the all-too-apt “The Winner Takes It All.” All those lyrics about judges and victors and falling? Spot. On.
BEST COSTUMING | Though there was no shortage of stunning (and bedazzled!) costumes on the ice during the free skate, my vote for Fiercest Outfits goes to commentators Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, who were appropriately decked out in head-to-toe gold for the medal event.
MOST RELATABLE COMMENTARY | Speaking of Lipinski, Weir and co-commentator Terry Gannon, the three of them instantly transformed from professional sportscasters to giddy figure skating fans as they anxiously awaited the scores for Medvedeva’s performance. “I can’t look!” Weir gasped. “I can’t!” Lipinski replied. And even though we couldn’t see Gannon’s face when he realized that Medvedeva had only managed the silver, I can imagine his jaw was on the floor, mirroring every other viewer watching from home.