Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova has responded to a row with members of the Russian sports media after claims that the star threatened to “sue” them at a recent hockey match for filming her.
Reports in the Russian media last week claimed the unsavory spat had broken out when Zagitova was attending a KHL clash between AK Bars and Metallurg in the city of Kazan.
According to accounts widely shared from local journalist Rustam Imamov, the 19-year-old figure skating queen had been angered by journalists seated several rows behind her who were filming the crowd and also capturing her in their footage.
Zagitova allegedly stormed to the press section and demanded “rudely” that the footage be deleted, apparently threatening to sue and claiming “I have connections.”
However, Zagitova – the 2019 world champion and gold medalist from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang – has now responded to the row in a message to her almost 1 million Instagram followers.
“About the hate. I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time, to somehow speak about it. But it’s a difficult topic, and every time you think, yes, but…” began the lengthy message in Russian.
“With popularity there is a reverse side. From one side I feel the support and love of my fans, people recognize me, and I’ll take photos and give autographs with pleasure, and there are so many warm words form you here – every day!
“It really energizes me and makes me want to be real with you and become better than I am today. The feeling is that we will travel this path together!” added the teenage star.
“But… there is another side,” Zagitova continued.
I am mentioned and hated on in comments online, the media write strange articles, pick apart it the bones, what I said, what I wore, where I went, there is no privacy, and my boundaries are often quite rudely violated.
“The information is sometimes so twisted that I even think that this is probably such a superpower that people should have.
“But on [social media] networks there is no responsibility, sometimes there aren’t even faces, there’s no signature. Information is retold and spread at a terrifying speed.
“What I want to say. Every situation has two sides. Each of us is a living person who can and must defend our personal boundaries.
“I am glad that my space is here with you, free of this. Thank you very much for your support and love.”
After the row, Kazan journalist Imamov attempted to play down the scenes, saying his comments had been misinterpreted by the media.
“An annoying misunderstanding has emerged,” he was quoted as saying.
“Due to a general misunderstanding, a small local story turned into a big scandal. Now it is settled, we talked.
“I apologize to Alina and her family, fans, since I did not know all the details initially.
“In the arena, there were cases where she was grabbed by the hand and people were lying in wait for her near the toilet, which, of course, is unacceptable.
“Of course, after this, there’s no desire to communicate normally. In turn, I should first have sorted out everything personally and clarified all the nuances of what happened.”
Despite not competing formally since 2019, Zagitova remains a big star in her homeland.
She has transitioned into a showbiz career by presenting on popular TV shows such as ‘Ice Age’, also continuing her studies at higher education.
Zagitova insisted as recently as September that she had not formally ended her professional skating career.