Winter Games Athletes
Kostner is one of the world’s best figure skaters, a former world champion and a two-time Olympic veteran, but the Games have not been the best stage for perhaps the top skater in Italian history. Kostner has been skating at senior-level international events since 2002, and she made her first big splash with a bronze at the 2005 worlds. She finished third in the European championships in 2006 but tumbled to 12th at the worlds, perhaps a warning sign before an ugly ninth-place finish at home in the Turin Games. The years between Turin and Vancouver included three more European championships and a second-place finish at the 2008 worlds, but she fell three times on her way to finishing a disastrous 16th at the 2010 Games. While her lead-ups to Turin and Vancouver were ominous, Kostner should be beaming with confidence as she prepares for Sochi. She put the disappointment of Vancouver behind her by winning five golds and two silvers in seven international events in 2012, including her first world championship. She won three more international golds in 2013 and her seventh Italian title, then finished third at the 2014 Euro championships just weeks before Sochi. Medaling won’t be easy with South Korea’s Kim Yu-na, Japan’s Mao Asada and Russians Julia Lipnitskaia and Adelina Sotnikova in the competition, but barring disaster Kostner should contend for a podium spot and wipe away the bitter taste of her previous two Olympic experiences.