Figure Skating

Alina Zagitova on online trolls: "I don't owe anyone anything"

Olympic champion figure skater from Russia says she has learned to deal with haters.

By ZK Goh ·

Olympic champion Alina Zagitova has opened up about facing online criticism, in an interview with Russian Cosmopolitan magazine.

The figure skater, who announced a break from all competition in December, says she let online trolls affect her early in her career but has learned to ignore them.

“I don't owe anyone anything,” she told the magazine, according to quotes reported by RIA Novosti.

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PyeongChang 2018 criticism

Zagitova received criticism for her gold-medal-winning free skate program at PyeongChang 2018, putting most of her difficult jumps at the back of her routine where they would receive a boosted base score in judging. A rule has since been introduced to stop skaters doing so.

“At first I tried to ignore the comments of the haters,” Zagitova said. “But there were times I had a bad start and they got through to me anyway. They were writing to tell me what I should do.

“I wanted to perform successfully myself,” she added. “At first it bothered me, but my coaches and parents reassured me that this was normal and not everyone would like me.”

After winning Olympic gold in PyeongChang, the youngster went on to only finish fifth at that year’s World Championships in Italy.

“It was a shame not to repeat in competition what I’d done many times in training,” she said of that experience.

“When in my first adult season I won everything, including the Olympic Games, and then did not perform well at the World Championships, I was doubly upset.”

Alina Zagitova performs in the Exhibition Gala at the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships

Competitive break

Since finishing a surprising sixth – out of six – at the Grand Prix Final in Turin in December, Zagitova has missed both the Russian national championships and European Championships, while the so-called “3A” trio of Anna Shcherbakova, Alena Kostornaia, and Alexandra Trusova have shone.

Zagitova, who won the 2019 world title, remains the reigning world champion due to the cancellation of the 2020 World Championships.

She has indicated that her break from competition will not be permanent, saying back in December on Instagram that “I am still part of team Russia and I still can take part in international competitions for team Russia.”