Feb 19, 2014, 11:10 PM EDT
SOCHI, Russia – Four years ago, Carolina Kostner left the Vancouver ice after her free skate with her head clutched between her arms, barely able to stand after delivering what she herself might tell you was the worst performance of her life.
Thursday night in Sochi she could win an Olympic medal.
At 27, the Italian delivered a stirring performance Wednesday in the short program of the ladies’ singles event, skating to “Ave Maria” and equaling the music with her beauty across the ice.
“After Vancouver I thought that was it,” said Kostner, who sits in third place, less than a point from first. “I thought I would stop skating. I thought that was my end.”
One of the oldest skaters still competing on the international level, Kostner performed with the kind of steadied grace that only a veteran can possess. Long known as a soft and emotive skater, Kostner was her vintage self and poised in delivery.”
“I wanted to skate because I love it,” she said of why she decided to continue after Vancouver. “The hard times make you understand what you really want and I’m really glad that I continued and honored to have experienced everything that I have in the past years.”
After placing ninth at the Torino Games, Kostner plummeted to 16th in Vancouver, but chose to skate on, winning the World Championships in 2012 and tacking on two more European and National Championship titles.
She skated after Yulia Lipnitskaya Wednesday night at the Sochi Games in an arena that was meant to be bursting with applause for the 15-year-old. Yet, after a surprising fall from the Russian, Carolina began to crickets, moving with building heart.
Skating in a sparkling, layered white and silver dress, Kostner came through in the exact opposite way that she fell apart in Vancouver, moving the audience with her fluid performance.
“Stunning,” said two-time Olympian Johnny Weir, a commentator for NBC Sports.
“So long we have been thinking of Carolina as the artist,” added 1998 Olympic champion Tara Lipinski, also a NBC Sports commentator, “but her technique; she took everything down a grade and then built it back up these last four years. That was the whole package. ”
It’s a far cry from where she was days after Vancouver.
“I just believed that that was my limit,” Kostner remembered. “But something just told me that it’s not about the result, it’s about the personal experience, that is what is most important.”
Kostner didn’t have a convincing season. After failing to advance to the Grand Prix Final, she skipped the Italian Nationals and set about re-tooling both her programs, changing them with the Olympics in mind.
“When I was in my beginning position, I was scared out of my mind,” Kostner said, smiling. “I don’t know, it just came together. Skating isn’t about the medals or the results. I love what I do. It’s much more fun to win, but you cannot every time.”
If anything, Kostner only hopes for a performance better than what she put out in Vancouver four years ago. What’s the best way she can approach her Sochi free skate?
“To not think about it,” she said.
Jul 7, 2015, 4:14 PM EDT
As the one year out mark quickly approaches, the Olympic Park is moving closer to reality.
Jul 7, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT
Fraser was accused of racism after saying Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic should “go back to where their parents came from.”
Jul 7, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT
It’s predicted to sell for over $20,000 at the July 30th auction.
Jul 6, 2015, 4:08 PM EDT
After finally becoming World Cup champion, Wambach is unsure about her Olympic future.
Jul 6, 2015, 1:18 PM EDT
An injury to the world’s top-ranked golfer could threaten his qualification status for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Jul 5, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT
Looking for their sixth Grand Prix title, the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team ended the weekend with three straight wins.
Lucena, Brunner finish fourth while Brazilians claim victory at Beach Volleyball World Championships
Jul 5, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT
Brazilian teams finished on top of the podium in both the men’s and women’s finals.
Jul 4, 2015, 6:57 PM EDT
The two claimed victory in the men’s and women’s 100 meters, while American Evan Jager came heartbreakingly close to making history in the steeplechase.
Jul 4, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT
Trinidad and Tobago have been upgraded to silver and France to bronze.
Jul 4, 2015, 9:11 AM EDT
The Japanese swimmer confirmed that his right elbow is fractured.
Jul 3, 2015, 5:13 PM EDT
Three of the four remaining American teams were knocked out in the quarterfinal rounds. Lucena and Brunner will face the Brazilians in semifinals on Saturday.
Jul 3, 2015, 2:13 PM EDT
In an interview before the July 4th stop of the Road to Rio tour before Philadelphia, the Olympic wrestler explained how his age has become an advantage.
Jul 3, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT
The torch will begin in the capital city of Brasilia, passing through a planned 500 cities before reaching Maracana Stadium in Rio for the Opening Ceremony.
Jul 3, 2015, 11:11 AM EDT
Won’t face Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who will forgo 200 meters to focus on 100.
Jul 2, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT
Four other U.S. teams advanced to quarterfinals.
Jul 2, 2015, 11:29 AM EDT
A suspected elbow fracture may force Hagino to pull out.
Jul 1, 2015, 10:07 AM EDT
Walsh Jennings had never been part of such a rout with Misty May-Treanor.
Jun 30, 2015, 7:33 PM EDT
“We’re not discussing right now the possibility of not submitting a bid.”
Jun 30, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT
Bolt flew to Munich to treat an injury.
Jun 30, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT
Obama has never attended an Olympics as president, and this is his last chance.
- Watch Rio Olympic Park move from construction to completion 0
- Bruce Jenner’s Olympic Torch going up for auction 0
- Will Abby Wambach play in Rio? 1
- Rory McIlroy ruptures ankle ligment 2
- U.S. Women undefeated after opening of indoor volleyball Grand Prix tournament 0
- Lucena, Brunner finish fourth while Brazilians claim victory at Beach Volleyball World Championships 0
- Jamaican sprinters Asafa Powell and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce dominate at Paris Diamond League 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)