Yulia Lipnitskaya will have to settle for one medal during her Olympics debut.
After taking the world by storm and helping Russia to a gold medal during the team event last week in Sochi, the 15-year-old sensation entered the individual competition with sky-high expectations. But with a score of 133.54 during Thursday's free skate discipline, she finished in fifth place, falling just short of the podium. Countrywoman Adelina Sotnikova won the gold, while South Korean Yuna Kim won silver, and Italian Carolina Kostner won the bronze.
Christine Brennan of USA Today talked about the pressure the young Russian was under:
And now, Julia/Yulia...the 15 year old getting serious exhortations from her coach. Crowd wild. Just a little pressure.— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 20, 2014
Lipnitskaya, who essentially had the weight of an entire nation on her tiny shoulders and was dealing with the kind of pressure most girls her age could barely dream of, dug herself an early hole during the short program.
She fell on an attempted triple flip and saw her score fall to 65.23. Although that was ultimately enough to put her in fifth place, it was still a relative disappointment for the girl who was so dominant last week.
Lipnitskaya, who put on an absolute show during the free program of the team event, came through with a solid performance dancing to music from Schindler's List was once again, but it wasn't quite enough to crack the top three.
Nevertheless, while it's a disappointing finish for the young star, she still has a blindingly bright future.
Following her transcending performance during the team event, which was equal parts breathtaking and beautiful, the entire world learned her name and was put on notice of her unbelievable ability.
Even Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi:
Awww I just love this skater - Yulia Lipnitskaya. So fun to watch...although i say ouch during her spins #Sochi2014— Kristi Yamaguchi (@kristiyamaguchi) February 8, 2014
Scott Hamilton, who also has a gold medal on his resume, added to the praise, noting that Lipnitskaya still has room to get better, per the Associated Press via CBSNews.com:
"I want to see her take it to the extent of her abilities. And those are pretty limitless. She has everything, and now it's just a matter of developing it as she goes along."
And that's the scary part. Lipnitskaya proved in Sochi that she can do some truly extraordinary things on the ice, but she's only 15. She's going to continue to be a favorite at the upcoming World Championships, and in South Korea in 2018, she will boast both unbelievable talent and a slew of international experience.
This isn't how Lipnitskaya likely saw her Olympics debut coming to an end, but she is clearly a future force in this sport.