Like other successful athletes, Russian figure skating star Evgenia Medvedeva lists her athletic accomplishments on the bios of her social media accounts.
“Two times World, European and Russian national champion 2016-2017,” reads the first line of the 18-year-old’s Instagram and Twitter pages, followed by a gold medal and figure skate emoji. But the next two descriptions — “Anime otaku” and “EXO-L” — reveal Medvedeva’s true passions off the ice.
According to the Associated Press, Medvedeva listened to the South Korean-Chinese K-pop band Exo before her world-record setting ladies’ short program routine during the figure skating team event Sunday at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea. She added that she has received autographs and letters from members of the band.
The term otaku typically refers to people with an obsessive interest in anime or manga and EXO-L is the “official global fan club” of Exo.
For the uninitiated, Exo is an enormously popular boy-band based in Seoul that has dominated music charts in Korea. Its prevalence and popularity, especially among teenage girls, led one lifestyle magazine to dub the band in 2016 as “bigger than One Direction.” Exo will reportedly be performing at the Closing Ceremonies of the Olympics.
Medvedeva’s obsession did not go unnoticed.
“It’s unreal inspiration and it really improved my mood,” she said, via the Associated Press. ”I feel more confident because of them.”
Officially, Medvedeva is competing under the banner of Olympic Athletes from Russia after the International Olympic Committee denied a portion of Russian athletes to compete due to the doping investigation.
Medvedeva did not know until last month that she would be able to compete and she will not be eligible to medal for Russia. But her affinity for K-pop and anime has endeared her to fans around the world, and certainly in South Korea, where the K-pop genre originated.
A cursory look at Medvedeva’s social media accounts shows that she is no casual fan of either. Anime drawings litter her Twitter feed and she even dressed as Sailor Moon for an ice skating exhibition in Japan. She has met Naoko Takeuchi, the author of “Sailor Moon” who is also a fan of the skater.
In 2016, BuzzFeed wrote an article about Medvedeva, a Moscow native, going viral in Japan after she tweeted spoilers of the anime series “Yuri!!! on Ice.”
Medvedeva told BuzzFeed that she loves anime because it reminds her of real life.
Medvedeva’s fans have already begun campaigning for her to meet the members of Exo. And let’s be honest, you’ll have trouble finding anyone at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics that’s more deserving to do so than Medvedeva. She’s more than proved her fandom.