SOCHI, Russia (KSDK) – She's only 15 years old and barely over 5'2", but "size matters not" when it comes to Russian skating phenom Yulia Lipnitskaya.
Her dazzling performance in the team figure skating event earned Russia its first medal of the 2014 Olympics, and now, she's set to dominate the stage on her own during the ladies short program.
She began figure skating when she was just four years old. Her father, Vyacheslav, enlisted in the Russian army before Yulia was born, and never came back. Yulia's mother asked a prominent coach to accept her daughter into training, an offer she excitedly took on, impressed by the young talent.
'I remember when I saw this girl at her casting. I was struck by her confident look, fearlessness, and thought, "If only I can train her." So I was lucky,'" her former coach Elena Legkovets told the Daily Mail.
When Yulia was 10, she and her mother – who worked multiple jobs to make ends meet – moved from Yekaterinburg to Russia to train.
'My mother gave up everything for me. In Yekaterinburg, she had a job and an apartment in the centre of the city, and her whole life. And in Moscow - nothing. We did not even know where we will live. It is now all normal.' The journey was across two time zones, and 1120 miles,"' Yulia told the Daily Mail.
The move paid off. Yulia is the 2014 European champion, the 2013 Grand Prix Final silver medalist and a two-time Russian silver medalist. Even though she qualified for the Sochi Olympics by just 23 days, on Feb. 9, she became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in ladies figure skating history, beating out Tara Tipinski by six days.
Her performance was so riveting that famously stoic Russian leader Vladimir Putin cracked a smile and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
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You can follow her on social media here:http://vk.com/id69994512.