Three Reasons 15-Year-Old Yulia Lipnitskaya Could Shock The WorldLucy Madison2/18/14 6:16pmFiled to: yulia lipnitskayafigure skatingsochi olympicsrussiayuna kimappicfl241EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkIf you'd asked the figure skating hivemind before the Olympics to bet on the results of the ladies competition, 90 percent of the money would have gone on defending Olympic champion Yuna Kim. Kim, the South Korean superstar who cleaned up in Vancouver with a record-high score, has long been considered the reigning queen of figure skating, challenged only the 2010 silver medalist, Japan's Mao Asada. That all changed last week.AdvertisementAt the inaugural Olympic team skating competition, 15-year-old Russian phenom Yulia Lipnitskaya delivered two technically excellent, appropriately dramatic, and exceptionally high-scoring programs, officially transcending rising star status to move squarely into the ranks of the elite. Is it too soon for Lipnitskaya's moment? Well, she's very young, and she's only been competing on the senior level for a year. But judging from the history of the sport, it would be foolish to dismiss the Olympic potential of a dark-horse teenage jumping machine. See: Oksana Baiul, Sarah Hughes, and Tara Lipinski, who was just two days younger than Lipnitskaya will be when medals are decided. Look, I am not a gambling woman (because I'm a freelance writer covering Olympic figure skating, and subsequently broke as hell), but you can bet your ass Yulia's going to make Yuna work for Olympic Gold. And she's got a good shot at winning it.AdvertisementHere's why:1. She's consistent.Judges can't stand a skater who seems "volatile." Erraticism can belie a lack of preparation, discipline, and commitment, while consistency denotes the straight-A-student-level determination so beloved by adult authority figures. With consistent skaters–the Kristi Yamaguchis and Tara Lipinskis of the world–you always know what you're going to get. Solid programs, solid jumps, solid scores. The inconsistent skaters–the Tonya Hardings, Sasha Cohens, and Jeremy Abbotts–tend to have higher highs and much, much lower lows. Sometimes all in the span of one program. But so much about figure skating's scoring system is subjective, and reputation is everything. If a skater is consistent, her scores tend to improve gradually over the course of a season. (Theoretically, as she improves her program technically – but also, more realistically, as she develops a reputation for excellence.) If she's inconsistent, or out of favor, she wont get the high grades of execution and program component marks that can elevate her score to the next level.