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Strategy 2 Russian figure skaters are embroiled in the greatest rivalry since Nancy and Tonya — and it's about to unfold at the Olympics

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Figure skating rivals Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova were cleared to compete as neutral athletes after Russia was banned from the Winter Olympics.

Despite Russia's ban, the intense rivalry between Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva (pictured) will come to a head at the Winter Olympics. play

Despite Russia's ban, the intense rivalry between Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva (pictured) will come to a head at the Winter Olympics.

(Pavel Golovkin/AP Images, Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

• Accomplished Russian figure skaters Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova both train together under the same coach.

• They're also set to face off at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.

• Medvedeva has long been a dominant presence in figure skating. However, she was recently hobbled by a broken foot.

• Zagitova is fresh off a victory over Medvedeva at the 2018 European Figure Skating Championships.



An intense showdown is about heat up the world of ice skating at the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

This year, the battle for gold may come down to Russian figure skaters and training partners Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova.

Medvedeva, 18, has long been regarded as the favorite. She's twice swept the world, European, and Russian championships. The Muscovite was also named one of Business Insider's 50 most dominant athletes.

On the other hand, Zagitova recently spoiled Medvedeva's winning streak at the 2018 European Figure Skating Championships, the Japan Times reported. The 15-year-old also scooped up gold at the last Russian Championships, which Medvedeva missed due to a broken foot.

The two Russians train with the same coach and will compete at this year's Winter Games as neutral athletes. They're two of the 169 Russian athletes who have been cleared to compete in Pyeongchang in the wake of their home country's massive, government-sponsored doping scandal.

By all accounts, the training partners get along, but they're two monster talents from the same country — and therefore a pair to watch at this year's Winter Olympics.

Here's a look at what's shaping up to be one of the most talked-about rivalries of the 2018 Winter Olympics:

Medvedeva first took to the ice at the age of three. She said her parents encouraged her to continue to pursue the sport in order to improve her figure and posture. The 18-year-old loves K-Pop, "Sailor Moon," and actors Grant Gustin, David Tennant, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Medvedeva first took to the ice at the age of three. She said her parents encouraged her to continue to pursue the sport in order to improve her figure and posture. The 18-year-old loves K-Pop, "Sailor Moon," and actors Grant Gustin, David Tennant, and Benedict Cumberbatch. play

Medvedeva first took to the ice at the age of three. She said her parents encouraged her to continue to pursue the sport in order to improve her figure and posture. The 18-year-old loves K-Pop, "Sailor Moon," and actors Grant Gustin, David Tennant, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

(Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

Source: FS Gossip, FS Gossip, ISU Results, FS Russia



The daughter of an ice hockey coach, Zagitova hails from Izhevsk, but lives with her grandmother in Moscow in order to train. She has a pet cat and two chinchillas, enjoys drawing and rhine-stoning, and has expressed interest in one day opening a Japanese restaurant.

The daughter of an ice hockey coach, Zagitova hails from Izhevsk, but lives with her grandmother in Moscow in order to train. She has a pet cat and two chinchillas, enjoys drawing and rhine-stoning, and has expressed interest in one day opening a Japanese restaurant. play

The daughter of an ice hockey coach, Zagitova hails from Izhevsk, but lives with her grandmother in Moscow in order to train. She has a pet cat and two chinchillas, enjoys drawing and rhine-stoning, and has expressed interest in one day opening a Japanese restaurant.

(Chiang Ying-ying / AP Images)

Source: Russia Beyond, NBC, R-Sport



Both skaters have a good chance of medaling. Sports Illustrated predicted Zagitova would take home gold, while Medvedeva would snag silver. International Figure Skating Magazine predicted the opposite.

The gold Olympic medal. play

The gold Olympic medal.

(REUTERS/Sergio Moraes)

Source: Sports Illustrated, International Figure Skating Magazine



UPI reported that Zagitova's Olympic routine has a "higher base value." She reportedly has a tendency to accrue more points by backloading her program with jumps.

UPI reported that Zagitova's Olympic routine has a "higher base value." She reportedly has a tendency to accrue more points by backloading her program with jumps. play

UPI reported that Zagitova's Olympic routine has a "higher base value." She reportedly has a tendency to accrue more points by backloading her program with jumps.

(Pavel Golovkin/AP Images)

Source: UPI, NBC



UPI's analysis gave Zagitova the technical edge but argued that Medvedeva's artistry and storytelling abilities will likely balance things out.

UPI's analysis gave Zagitova the technical edge but argued that Medvedeva's artistry and storytelling abilities will likely balance things out. play

UPI's analysis gave Zagitova the technical edge but argued that Medvedeva's artistry and storytelling abilities will likely balance things out.

(Takashi Aoyama / Stringer / Getty Images)

Source: UPI



Either way, both skaters are on even ground when it comes to coaching. They both train with Eteri Tutberidze and Sergei Dudakov. Tutberidze told Ice Network she strives to get her athletes to trust her. "They are my life," she said. "They are my kids on ice."

Either way, both skaters are on even ground when it comes to coaching. They both train with Eteri Tutberidze and Sergei Dudakov. Tutberidze told Ice Network she strives to get her athletes to trust her. "They are my life," she said. "They are my kids on ice." play

Either way, both skaters are on even ground when it comes to coaching. They both train with Eteri Tutberidze and Sergei Dudakov. Tutberidze told Ice Network she strives to get her athletes to trust her. "They are my life," she said. "They are my kids on ice."

(Darko Bandic/AP Images)

Source: Ice Network



Tutberidze has said that Medvedeva is Zagitova's "role model," and that both athletes play off of one another in training. "I can sometimes show Zhenya and say, 'Look, how Alina is working,' and I tell Alina, 'Look, how Zhenya is working,'" she said, according to NBC.

Tutberidze has said that Medvedeva is Zagitova's "role model," and that both athletes play off of one another in training. "I can sometimes show Zhenya and say, 'Look, how Alina is working,' and I tell Alina, 'Look, how Zhenya is working,'" she said, according to NBC. play

Tutberidze has said that Medvedeva is Zagitova's "role model," and that both athletes play off of one another in training. "I can sometimes show Zhenya and say, 'Look, how Alina is working,' and I tell Alina, 'Look, how Zhenya is working,'" she said, according to NBC.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Source: FS Gossip, Ice Network, NBC



Zagitova told the AP that she and her training partner are good friends. "There's obviously a rivalry at the training sessions, but it's not a bad one. It's playful. We encourage each other. It's good motivation."

Zagitova told the AP that she and her training partner are good friends. "There's obviously a rivalry at the training sessions, but it's not a bad one. It's playful. We encourage each other. It's good motivation." play

Zagitova told the AP that she and her training partner are good friends. "There's obviously a rivalry at the training sessions, but it's not a bad one. It's playful. We encourage each other. It's good motivation."

(Mark Schiefelbein/AP Images)

Source: The Associated Press



"We are not only skating at the same rink, but in the same group at the same time," Medvedeva told the International Skating Union. "I love competition, the healthy competition that we have now in our group. The athletes have an absolutely normal and friendly relationship. When you feel that someone next to you is improving you start moving forward."

"We are not only skating at the same rink, but in the same group at the same time," Medvedeva told the International Skating Union. "I love competition, the healthy competition that we have now in our group. The athletes have an absolutely normal and friendly relationship. When you feel that someone next to you is improving you start moving forward." play

"We are not only skating at the same rink, but in the same group at the same time," Medvedeva told the International Skating Union. "I love competition, the healthy competition that we have now in our group. The athletes have an absolutely normal and friendly relationship. When you feel that someone next to you is improving you start moving forward."

(David Ramos / Stringer / Getty Images)

Source: International Skating Union



At the same time, both athletes are careful to not focus too much on one another. Zagitova has said that while she looks up to Medvedeva in trainings, she only competes with herself.

At the same time, both athletes are careful to not focus too much on one another. Zagitova has said that while she looks up to Medvedeva in trainings, she only competes with herself. play

At the same time, both athletes are careful to not focus too much on one another. Zagitova has said that while she looks up to Medvedeva in trainings, she only competes with herself.

(Pavel Golovkin/AP Images)

Source: Russia Beyond, FS Gossip



"Time has taught me that you don't need to watch others," Medvedeva told The Associated Press. "There are moments where, like Alina said, competition can stimulate you, but you need to concentrate on your own elements, and that's especially important for me."

"Time has taught me that you don't need to watch others," Medvedeva told The Associated Press. "There are moments where, like Alina said, competition can stimulate you, but you need to concentrate on your own elements, and that's especially important for me." play

"Time has taught me that you don't need to watch others," Medvedeva told The Associated Press. "There are moments where, like Alina said, competition can stimulate you, but you need to concentrate on your own elements, and that's especially important for me."

(David Ramos / Stringer / Getty Images)

Source: The Associated Press



That's not the only thing the athletes agree on. Medvedeva and Zagitova are two of the 169 Russian athletes who have been cleared to compete in Pyeongchang. Both have made statements indicating that they disagree with the ban.

That's not the only thing the athletes agree on. Medvedeva and Zagitova are two of the 169 Russian athletes who have been cleared to compete in Pyeongchang. Both have made statements indicating that they disagree with the ban. play

That's not the only thing the athletes agree on. Medvedeva and Zagitova are two of the 169 Russian athletes who have been cleared to compete in Pyeongchang. Both have made statements indicating that they disagree with the ban.

(Matthew Stockman / Getty)

Source: Yahoo



Russia was banned from the Games after its state-sponsored doping program was uncovered. The scandal implicated two Russian figure skaters, Ksenia Stolbova and Ivan Bukin.

Russia was banned from the Games after its state-sponsored doping program was uncovered. The scandal implicated two Russian figure skaters, Ksenia Stolbova and Ivan Bukin. play

Russia was banned from the Games after its state-sponsored doping program was uncovered. The scandal implicated two Russian figure skaters, Ksenia Stolbova and Ivan Bukin.

(David J. Phillip/AP)

Source: Reuters, Business Insider, Washington Post



Medvedeva and Zagitova are competing as "Olympic athletes from Russia." They won't march behind the Russian flag at the Opening Ceremony, and, if either of them clinches the gold medal, the Russian national anthem will not play as they stand on the podium.

Medvedeva and Zagitova are competing as "Olympic athletes from Russia." They won't march behind the Russian flag at the Opening Ceremony, and, if either of them clinches the gold medal, the Russian national anthem will not play as they stand on the podium. play

Medvedeva and Zagitova are competing as "Olympic athletes from Russia." They won't march behind the Russian flag at the Opening Ceremony, and, if either of them clinches the gold medal, the Russian national anthem will not play as they stand on the podium.

(Mattjias Schrader/AP)

Source: Reuters, Business Insider



Both skaters have criticized the IOC's ruling. In a letter arguing that the ban has harmed clean Russian athletes, Medvedeva said she would not want to compete beneath a "neutral" flag, if given an option: "I am proud of my country. It is a great honor for me to represent it at the Games. It gives strength and inspires me during the performances."

Both skaters have criticized the IOC's ruling. In a letter arguing that the ban has harmed clean Russian athletes, Medvedeva said she would not want to compete beneath a "neutral" flag, if given an option: "I am proud of my country. It is a great honor for me to represent it at the Games. It gives strength and inspires me during the performances." play

Both skaters have criticized the IOC's ruling. In a letter arguing that the ban has harmed clean Russian athletes, Medvedeva said she would not want to compete beneath a "neutral" flag, if given an option: "I am proud of my country. It is a great honor for me to represent it at the Games. It gives strength and inspires me during the performances."

(Takashi Aoyama / Stringer / Getty Images)

Source: Business Insider, Russia Beyond



Zagitova echoed these sentiments, saying that it was unfortunate that the ban happened. "Everyone knows which country they represent, and I know which country I will represent," she said.

Zagitova echoed these sentiments, saying that it was unfortunate that the ban happened. "Everyone knows which country they represent, and I know which country I will represent," she said. play

Zagitova echoed these sentiments, saying that it was unfortunate that the ban happened. "Everyone knows which country they represent, and I know which country I will represent," she said.

(Pavel Golovkin/AP Images)

Source: Russia Beyond, Yahoo



Either way, these two figure skaters are athletes to keep an eye on at the upcoming Olympic Games.

Either way, these two figure skaters are athletes to keep an eye on at the upcoming Olympic Games. play

Either way, these two figure skaters are athletes to keep an eye on at the upcoming Olympic Games.

(Pavel Golovkin/AP Images)

Source: NBC