Italy's Carolina Kostner won the bronze medal in women's figure skating in Sochi on Thursday.
The 27-year-old native of Bolzano, Italy scored 74.12 points in the short program and 142.61 in the free skate for a total of 216.73. That put her in third place behind Russia's surprise gold-medal winner Adelina Sotnikova (224.59 points) and South Korea's Kim Yu-na (219.11 points.)
On her personal website, Kostner called Wednesday's short program performance "a very touching moment," but it was Thursday's free skate that gave her a personal best score.
It was a redeeming accomplishment after a fairly disastrous free skate in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. She fell three times and managed only one clean triple jump, finishing in a disappointing 19th place.
The Turin 2006 Winter Olympics were marginally better, but discouraging nonetheless, considering she was performing on her home turf. She placed ninth.
At one point, Kostner considered quitting:
“After Vancouver I thought that was it,” she said recently. “I thought I would stop skating. I thought that was my end.”
But she realized that she enjoyed the sport too much to quit.
“It was really hard times,” she said. “So I told myself, no results any more, just skating. And that’s what I started skating for, right? Not to be known or anything.”
She went on to win the prestigious 2011 Grand Prix final. Then, in 2012, she won the world championships in Nice, France. She took second place in the same competition in 2013 in London. She also won the European championships in 2012 and 2013.
“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.”
“So long we have been thinking of Carolina as the artist,” said 1998 Olympic champion Tara Lipinski, “but her technique; she took everything down a grade and then built it back up these last four years. That was the whole package. ”
Kostner's competitor, American figure skater Ashley Wagner, also had words of praise:
“Her lows are definitely low ... We have all seen her have some really rough skates. It is impressive she doesn’t let that become entirely the skater she is. To come back so strong and put it together mentally and physically is impressive.”
Kostner could easily have called it quits after winning the world championship, but instead decided to stay in the game.
“When an artist becomes a master, it’s his best time,” Kostner said. “I love to do it. I’m not ready to give that up yet.”
— Mashable (@mashable) February 20, 2014
— Ira☺ (@irenissi) February 20, 2014
With an Olympic bronze medal to mitigate the pain of Turin and Vancouver, it looks like Kostner made the right decision.
Image via Wikimedia Commons