Photo: Getty Images
Gracie Gold, the Taylor Swift of figure skating. Photo: Getty Images

Maybe you’ve purposefully missed the Winter Olympics this year (Pussy Riot solidarity!), or you just can’t figure out a way to watch the games without cable. Either way, tonight, you should consider tuning in for the grand finale of ladies’ figure skating. Don’t let all the bedazzled feathers fool you; this sport is hardcore and requires its athletes to give up everything in the pursuit of a dream. In an age when too often women are on television for the sole purpose of fighting with other women, it’s inspiring whenever young girls can turn on the TV set and witness the endless possibilities available to them.

If you haven’t taken notice of the sport since Tara Lipinski adorably won gold in 1998, no matter. Here’s a run-down of who and what you need to know before tonight’s big event!

Gracie Gold

This 18-year-old is the reigning U.S. Champion and is destined to grace a box of your cereal. She’s basically the Taylor Swift of the sport, perfect, yet somehow relatable. Tay Tay even noticed the kindred spirit and tweeted support this week. Gold is considered the United States’ best bet at reaching the podium. Fingers crossed she brings a chunk of medal home. Random fun fact: she’s a twin!

Polina Edmunds

She’s from the Bay Area (San Jose, to be exact)! She’s only 15! And she burst on the scene recently, taking second place at the U.S. Championships. After finishing seventh in the short program yesterday, she’s probably too far off to land on the medal podium, but she’s still mesmerizing to watch and something tells me we’ll be doing just that four years from now.

Yuna Kim

If Gracie Gold is the Taylor Swift of figure skating, Yuna Kim is Beyonce. Nicknamed “The Queen,” she broke the world record (previously held by her) to win gold at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. She has become South Korea’s biggest celebrity and for good reason; everything she does is shockingly perfect and inspiring. She recently took a brief hiatus from skating due to a foot injury, but came back with a vengeance at this year’s World Championships, where she won gold (duh). She also snatched the top spot at yesterday’s short program, so she’s the one to beat tonight.

Mao Asada

Mao is the Kelly Rowland to Yuna’s Beyonce, the former forever struggling to match the shine of the latter. Born a mere 20 days apart, these two came up in the figure skating world around the same time and were pitted against each other, due to tensions between their countries (Mao is from Japan, Yuna is from South Korea). Could this be the day Mao finally takes over the spotlight?

Carolina Kostner

This Italian skater is known for her artistry…and her old age. She’s 27-years-old, which is considered retirement home status in the figure skating world. But Kostner really delivered during yesterday’s short program, landing in 3rd place with less than a point between her and the top 2 girls and proving that age ain’t nothing but a number.

Ashley Wagner

There’s some drama surrounding this one. It’s standard practice that the girls who grab the top 3 slots at the U.S. Championships go to the Olympics. Wagner really bungled her performance there and dropped down to fourth, but, due to her more robust international career, was sent to Sochi over third place finisher Mirai Nagasu, upsetting a lot of people in the process. Wagner had something to prove at the Team event, her first Sochi appearance, but made headlines for her McKayla Maroney impression rather than her performance. But she made up for it in the short program yesterday. Will she surprise us all and make something happen tonight?

Yulia Lipnitskaya

15-year-old Yulia made the age cut for the Olympics by some 20 days and became Russia’s favorite teen overnight after she led her country to victory during the Team event. Tonight, she plans to skate to the theme song from Schindler’s List wearing a red coat, so, um, there’s that.

Adelina Sotnikova

Adelina has been crowned as Russia’s great figure skating hope since she was 12, only to have her country forget her when younger Yulia Lipnitskaya came along and took her spot for the Team event. Adelina obviously had something to prove at yesterday’s short program and wowed everyone, even herself, when she aced her performance and got within four-tenths of a point away from Queen Yuna. This girl wants that gold bad. Could she pull a major upset?

Find out tonight at 8pm on NBC!

Author

Emmanuel Hapsis

Emmanuel Hapsis studied creative writing at University of Maryland, College Park and went on to receive his MFA in the field from California College of the Arts. After a few years of odd jobs, he landed at KQED, where he worked his way up from an intern to being the lead producer of a literature podcast and then the creator and editor of KQED Pop. In his free time, he teaches yoga and sings his heart out at karaoke.

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