The long-standing rivalry between Russia’s two figure skating champions, Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva, has stretched far beyond sport – and now the 18-year-old has edged ahead in a tight race for social media followers.
This week, reigning world and Olympic title holder Zagitova has achieved another feat outside of her sporting achievements, leaving behind her teammates – including Medvedeva – trailing as she became the most-followed Russian skater.
Zagitova has amassed 855,000 Instagram followers – 2,000 more than Medvedeva has on her page.
The two stars have been in the spotlight since 2018, when they first clashed for the European crown just months before the PyeongChang Olympics.
Back then, Medvedeva, who was still recovering from a foot injury, suffered a humiliating defeat by the first-year senior, who had the most technically complicated program at that time.
Their fierce battle for Olympic gold was one of the toughest ever, with both skaters pushing themselves to the limits and delivering immaculate performances in South Korea.
Less than a point separated the two stars in the final, with Medvdeva treating her second place as one of the most disappointing results of her career.
The two skating queens met again at the 2019 world championships, where Zagitova again got the upper hand, leaving Medvedeva, who’d changed coach, with a bronze medal.
The women’s rivalry became legendary and added spark to any figure skating tournament – at least until Zagitova decided to take a break from competition to concentrate on her TV career.
Despite not having competitive practice this season, the two rivals are set to face each other again at a team event in Moscow, where they will each captain a squad.
The competition is set to take place at the Megasport arena from February 5 to 7, and is expected to garner fervent public attention.