Tuesday night during the Olympic women's short program, Mirai Nagasu's song won't be unique to her: an Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR), gold medal favorite Evgenia Medvedeva, will be skating to very similar music. As if tensions between the United States and Russia weren't high enough, both Olympic skaters apparently opted to perform to Chopin — specifically, "Nocturne in C-Sharp Minor" — though each chose different arrangements, according to NBC.
When it comes to figure skating, even at an Olympic level, skaters often pick the same music as their competitors. Largely, this is because skaters don't typically know what music their opponents have chosen until they are at the competition. In the lead-up to the women's short program, neither athlete publicly acknowledged the coincidence. That's par for the course too, though: on Sunday, no less than three ice dancing pairs separately chose to dance to "Despacito," and none of the athletes openly acknowledged the overlap.
When it comes to figure skating, there are certain songs that pop up in lots of routines. "Nocturne In C-Sharp Minor" is one such song. In fact, Medvedeva already debuted her routine to the song during the earlier team competition at the 2018 PyeongChang Games.
That performance garnered quite a bit of attention. Largely, this was because of its theme — "clinical death." Reportedly, Medvedeva described the program as being about "the flight of the soul" as it leaves the body. But, dour theme aside, she definitely outdid herself. She earned a whopping 81.06 for the performance, which set a world record as the highest score ever awarded to a skater during the ladies' short program, according to CNN.
Nagasu also isn't new to the famous Chopin tune. She's performed to the tune several times before, including as recently as last year.
It's notable that both skaters opted to use a more traditional skate song. The 2018 Winter Games have thus been marked by more unconventional music. The PyeongChang games are the first Olympic games wherein athletes are permitted to use songs that contain lyrics. This rule actually changed back in the 2014-2015 skate season, but the South Korean Olympics are the first Olympic Games where the change has been in effect.
In the past, Medvedeva has taken advantage of songs with lyrics. Much like her "clinical death," routine, it also raised some eyebrows. In the last skate season, she competed to part of a score from the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is about 9/11. The piece of the song she used included sirens and clips of President Bush giving a speech. In other words, when it comes to provoking performances, Medvedeva is no rookie.
The competition on Tuesday won't be just between the United State and Russia, however. One major battled expected to play out is actually intra-Russian. While Medvedeva is the gold medal favorite, another skater from her very own team is posed to potentially unseat her. That would be none other than the 15 year-old Alina Zagitova, a young break-out star.
The two are well-known to be friendly off the ice, but when they step into the rink, all bets are off. They share a coach and a country, but, of course, both cannot win. One very real possibility for Tuesday night's short program is that both the gold and the silver medal could end up going to Russian athletes. (Of course, the medals won't go to Russia, itself. All Russian athletes are competing under the Olympic flag, and are technically operating as Olympic Athletes from Russia, or OARs.)
Between choosing the same song as Nagasu and facing off against her own countrywoman, Medvedeva is almost definitely going to be the center of attention. Whether she can keep up her track record waits to be seen.