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Ekaterina Borisova of Russia had a knot in her stomach that simply would not go away as she and partner Dmitry Sopot waited in the wings for the pairs free skating to end at the Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre.
The Russians were the third of four pairs to take the ice in the final grouping of the figure skating competition, with only the Czech Republic duo of Anna Duskova and Martin Bidar, who were warming up, able to catch them.
“When we were watching the last couple, we were more nervous than before we went out for our skate,’’ said Borisova. “We were watching everything they were doing and we did not know what to expect. So we were so nervous.”
When the marks for the Czech pair were flashed across the electronic scoreboard, the knot disappeared and the Russian pair embraced for the first time as gold medallists at the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games. “We took a deep breath and relaxed,’’ said Borisova.
The Czechs took silver, while another Russian couple, Alina Ustimkina and Nikita Volodin, won the bronze medal. Canada’s Justine Brasseur and Mathieu Ostiguy finished fourth.
Canada’s Justine Brasseur and Mathieu Ostiguy finished fourth in the pairs free skating. Photo: YIS / IOC Jed Leicester
Borisova and Sopot were in first place heading into the free skate and they were clearly better than the rest of the field as they turned in an almost-flawless free skate performance to the music from classic movie Lawrence of Arabia.
“We were nervous in the beginning, before the start. The program was not as clean as it could be, but we did better than we thought,’’ Sopot said.
Duskova said being the final pair to perform in front of the enthusiastic crowd at this iconic venue was a disadvantage.
“Going last was difficult for me,’’ she said. “We had to wait for a long time and took off our skates before we warmed up again. It took a long time. But we feel happy because we got silver. It was not perfect, we made mistakes and we are disappointed that we did not do our best.”
Everyone was smiling as they waited for the medal ceremony, and the athletes talked about how what they experienced at the YOG, both on and off the field of play, will benefit them as they chase their dream of competing at the Olympic Winter Games.
“We can improve on everything, there is always room to be better,” said Duskova.
The Canadians enjoyed measuring themselves against the Russian gold medallists. “They are a very strong team,’’ Ostiguy said. “I enjoy their skating because they have a lot of power and precision. They are fun to watch.’’ Brasseur added: “You learn so much. We learned how to deal with the stress of competing.”
The Youth Games marked the first time the Canadian pair had skated in front of a big crowd in competition. “It was so exciting to skate here. We had a personal best and our parents, our grandparents, were here for this special event,’’ Brasseur said.
Just before Borisova and Sopot headed down the hall to prepare to accept the gold medal, they were asked about what is next for them. “Beijing, hopefully,’’ Sopot said, referring to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. “But first I have big school exams when I get home.”
Written by YIS / IOC Alan Adams with IOC Young Reporter Emily Bayci
Alan Adams is a reporter for the Lillehammer Youth Information Service ‘YIS’. Based in Toronto, Canada, he has covered sports since the mid-1980s including covering five Winter Olympic Games.