With less than 500 days left in the countdown to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia has appeared to propel their women’s singles star–making machine into top gear.
Some of their athletes dominating this and last year’s junior international scene include Polina Agafonova, Polina Korobeynikova, Polina Shelepen, Julia Lipnitskaia and Elena Radionova.
Further, a pair of 15 year olds already making inroads on the senior circuit, are Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Adelina Sotnikova.
Barely a week after turning 11, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva stole the show at the 2007 Russian National Championships. Though she placed only 10th overall, the protégé of Alexei Mishin already possessed many of the technical tricks necessary to succeed at the senior level.
It was soon confirmed, thanks to the wonders of YouTube, that the youngster was also landing triple Axels in practice.
What a difference a year made.
At the 2008 Russian Championships, Tuktamysheva placed fourth in the short program and first in the free skate, winning the silver medal.
Here, Tuktamysheva skates with stretch, confidence and a mature musical awareness to John Williams’ haunting soundtrack from the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha."
Adelina Sotnikova won the Russian senior ladies’ competition in her debut in 2008, taking gold ahead of fellow baby ballerina and rising star, Tuktamysheva.
Trained by Elena Vodorezova, herself a child prodigy in the late 1970s, Sotnikova belies her youth with an on-ice presence and artistic finesse of a skater far older.
Like Tuktamysheva, Sotnikova is also a fearless jumper. Watch her land a three-jump sequence late in the program that includes a triple Salchow followed by a pair of double Axels.
Witness this remarkable 12-year old tackle the musical demands of Tchiakovsky’s "Swan Lake" with an inherent style and grace.