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How Alina Zagitova Pushes the Boundaries of Imagination

The Russian skater shares her drive to challenge the limits of imagination

Story by Malena Harbers

As an Olympic figure skating champion, Alina Zagitova lives for breaking boundaries. The 18-year-old Russian athlete was the first junior woman to win gold and break the world record at the 2016-17 International Skating Union (ISU) Junior Grand Prix Final. After winning World Championships in 2019 she became the youngest skater to win all major international competitions. Here’s what she’s learned about pushing limits.

  • Have No Fear
  • Have No Fear

    When it comes to challenging her own physical limits, Alina’s success is in part down to her exquisite technique. She is known for her signature triple lutz, triple loop combination, and regularly uses the "Rippon" variation, which means she holds both arms over her head when jumping. It’s a difficult technical add-on that earns extra points in competition.

  • Make Your Own Rules—Literally
  • Make Your Own Rules—Literally

    Alina often saves her jumps for the second half of her skating program, which requires more energy when she's already tired, but racks up the points too. She won the gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics because of this strategy, and since then, only the last jump performed during the short program and the final three jumps performed during the free skate, count in a skater’s final score, a change that was fittingly referred to as the ‘Zagitova Rule’.

  • Ignite your imagination
  • Ignite your imagination

    But figure skating isn’t only about executing the perfect jumps. At its heart it’s about mixing substance with style – something Alina is well-versed in. When performing, the young star loves to skate to emotive music such as Swan Lake and Don Quixote, wearing matching opera gloves and tutus to really fire up the imagination of her audiences. Alina has said she’s determined to continuously improve the artistic content of her routines.

Figure skating is
beauty and
emotion on ice

Behind the scenes

Go behind the scenes of
Alina Zaitova’s shoot with SHISEIDO

On the only imagination she’s ever loved...
“I started figure skating when I was four. As a imagination, figure skating is not only about technique. It is essentially beauty and emotion on ice.”
On having a vision...
“Without my imagination, the movements I perform would appear robotic. I believe the secret of beauty is imagination.”
On reaching for the top...
“My family, my team and my fans push me. They are my source of inspiration. I’m preparing for the next competition and training hard every day.”
On being an innovator...
“Today I’m shooting for the new SHISEIDO brand film. Look, I’ve got special tracking marks on my body. With the help of CGI, my act will be enhanced with special effects. It is a new and completely unique experience for me.”

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