Russians get 1st gold thanks to 15-year-old Zagitova

Karen Chen of the United States performs during the women's free figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) The Russians finally have a gold medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics, thanks to a 15-year-old who beat the fellow teen who inspired her to become a figure skater.

Alina Zagitova won one of the games spotlight events Friday, edging her friend and training partner 18-year-old Evgenia Medvedeva. That ended the gold drought for the Olympic Athletes from Russia – the designation given to the nation’s competitors after the IOC banned the nation because of a doping scandal. Zagitova and Medvedeva tied in the free skate, a rare occurrence, but Zagitova had won the short program Wednesday.

Bronze went to Kaetlyn Osmond, giving Canada four overall medals in figure skating.

Medvedeva seemed well on her way to Olympic gold as she went unbeaten for two seasons. But she battled a cracked bone in her right foot this season and Zagitova emerged, eventually surpassing Medvedeva.

While Medvedeva set a world mark in the short program, and a few minutes later her countrywoman beat it. The difference in the short program wound up being the margin between gold and silver.

On Friday, Zagitova went first, greeted by loud chants and cheers from the Russian fans desperate for that first gold.

She nailed everything with fluid flair and technical brilliance. Zagitova earned 156.65 points for her program to ”Don Quixote,” laying down the challenge for her countrywoman.

Medvedeva matched it, but that was not enough.

More AP Olympic coverage:

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