Kaori Sakamoto Claims Bronze With an Empowering Free Skate

Japanese skater Kaori Sakamoto delivered an empowering women's free skate performance at the Winter Olympics on Feb. 17 that earned her a bronze medal. Russians Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova claimed gold and silver, respectively. At the time of Sakamoto's skate, the Russians were expected sweep the podium with Shcherbakova, Trusova, and Kamila Valieva. However, Sakamoto came to the ice prepared to give it her all.

Benoît Richaud, the choreographer of Sakamoto's skate, "wanted to create something that celebrated the power of women," broadcaster and former Olympian Tara Lipinski said during the skate. "At first, [Richaud] said that [Sakamoto] was afraid. She thought that she didn't have a strong enough personality for it. But she's embraced it, and it's made her stronger," Lipinski explained. Richaud's vision was clear as the words "I love being a woman" were heard at the top of Sakamoto's skate.

Lyrics from "No More Fight Left in Me" by Imany, "I am your daughter / Your wife and a mother / I am no quitter / I am a fighter," echoed throughout the Capital Indoor Stadium as Sakamoto began gliding across the ice.

"She skates with a wonderful reckless abandon and beautiful technical skills," Johnny Weir, Lipinski's broadcast partner and fellow former Olympian, said during the skate. Around the halfway point, Sakamoto cleanly executed a triple flip into a triple toe loop, which left the commentators nearly breathless. All they could say was "Gorgeous!" and "Stunning!"

Closing her emotional performance in the center of the ice, Sakamoto put her foot over her head for a Biellmann spin. She then seamlessly exited the spin, coming down into a kneeling position, on cue, with the words "I am a woman." Ahead, view moments from her powerful skate.