June 15, 2019

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She knows butterflies

Russian Stars on Ice skater worried by flittering insects, not the anxious moments before a routine

Evgenia Medvedeva describes herself as fierce. (Bernat Armangue / The Associated Press)</p>

Evgenia Medvedeva describes herself as fierce. (Bernat Armangue / The Associated Press)

Twice world champion figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva has proven she’s a master at controlling the butterflies within when she glides onto competition ice.

Butterflies fluttering elsewhere are another matter.

In the midst of rehearsals ahead of her debut tour with Stars on Ice — which lands at Bell MTS Place on Wednesday night — Medvedeva confirmed a little-known fact.

For as long as she can remember, the 19-year-old Russian star has suffered from lepidopterophobia — the unrealistic fear of butterflies and moths.

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Twice world champion figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva has proven she’s a master at controlling the butterflies within when she glides onto competition ice.

Butterflies fluttering elsewhere are another matter.

In the midst of rehearsals ahead of her debut tour with Stars on Ice — which lands at Bell MTS Place on Wednesday night — Medvedeva confirmed a little-known fact.

For as long as she can remember, the 19-year-old Russian star has suffered from lepidopterophobia — the unrealistic fear of butterflies and moths.

"Everyone else is afraid of spiders and I’m afraid of butterflies. (If a butterfly comes near) I will start laughing and crying, both at the same time," the Olympic silver medallist revealed.

Medvedeva has no idea what sparked her phobia. She has met only one other person who shared her fear of lepidopterans.

Despite being seriously jet-lagged after travelling from South Korea to Halifax a day earlier, Medvedeva’s English language skills didn’t desert her as she chatted with the Free Press about the pros and cons of social media, her love of travel and her first tour with her Canadian figure skating friends.

Those friends call her Zhenya (it’s easier to pronounce than Evgenia, she explained) and include legendary world champions Elvis Stojko and Kurt Browning who, at 52, is back in the Stars on Ice fold after his intended retirement from touring didn’t take.

Patrick Chan (Julie Jacobson / Associated Press files)

Patrick Chan (Julie Jacobson / Associated Press files)

Patrick Chan and Kaetlyn Osmond, Canada’s most recent world singles champions and Olympic medallists, are again in Wednesday’s lineup, along with equally decorated pair skaters Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel, who’s now skating with a baby on board. Reigning national men’s champ Nam Nguyen and world-class ice dance duos, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje and Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, complete the cast.

Medvedeva made figure-skating history at age 16 when she became the first woman to win the world junior and senior championship crowns back-to-back. Fans haven’t taken their eyes off her since.

Her 760,000 followers on Instagram (jmedvedevaj) — 10,000 more than she had just two weeks ago — are testament to her popularity.

"Honestly, it’s so inspiring and a little bit scary at the same time because you know that people are interested in you," Medvedeva said.

"It means that everything you are doing every day is not useless, but sometimes you get a feeling that everyone is following every movement so you can’t go to your own space."

On the Stars on Ice tour, Medvedeva performs two programs — one set to Beautiful Mess by Russian-Bulgarian singer Kristian Kostov and the other to Ariana Grande’s recent hit single 7 Rings.

'Everyone else is afraid of spiders and I’m afraid of butterflies. (If a butterfly comes near) I will start laughing and crying, both at the same time'

After the athlete shared images on Instagram from her 7 Rings performance in Korea, fans gushed while trolls posted hateful comments disparaging her costume. Russian media picked up the story.

"I don’t care," Medvedeva said when asked how she reacts to the venom on social media. "I don’t always ignore it, but mostly they make me laugh. It’s just so funny."

Medvedeva spent the past year in Toronto training with coach Brian Orser and competed at Skate Canada in Laval, Que., but that’s all she had seen of Canada until Stars’ three-week trek from the Atlantic to the Pacific began. Ultimately, her longest tour to date will take her to 10 cities she had not visited before.

"I always love to travel and it’s really interesting. When you understand that you see really a lot in this sport, you can feel that you’re alive. You can feel the freedom. I am just so excited to see everything, just to feel freedom," said the globetrotting Muscovite who flies to Japan later this month for performances in four cities.

Asked to describe herself, Medvedeva selected one word — fierce.

Bernat Armangue / The Associated Press files</p><p>Russian skating star Evgenia Medvedeva, performing at the Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018, made figure-skating history at 16 when she became the first woman to win the world junior and senior championship crowns back-to-back.</p></p>

Bernat Armangue / The Associated Press files

Russian skating star Evgenia Medvedeva, performing at the Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018, made figure-skating history at 16 when she became the first woman to win the world junior and senior championship crowns back-to-back.

That characteristic has served her well since she stepped into the global competition spotlight at age 14. At 15, Medvedeva won every junior level event she entered including the 2015 world title. Without skipping a beat, she won every senior championship the following two seasons, pocketing six gold medals in all.

A foot injury and Alina Zagitova, her even younger Russian training mate, halted Medvedeva’s winning streak early in 2018. She settled for silver at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, a mere 1.5 points out of first.

Medvedeva closed out this past season with a world bronze medal behind Zagitova and Kazakh skater Elizabet Tursynbayeva, who became the first woman to land a quadruple jump in senior competition. Now, Medvedeva is determined to add a quadruple — the salchow — to her own arsenal.

"We’ll see. I’ll work hard," she said.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 at 9:27 AM CDT: Photos added.

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