While no human has yet to conquer the laws of physics, Northern Virginia’s Ilia Malinin is getting pretty darn close. Winning gold at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships this past weekend, the Vienna teenager has been stunning audiences with his seemingly effortless four-revolution jumps on the ice.
In October, Malinin became the first person (and remains the only person) ever to land a quadruple axel—a dizzying four-and-a-half rotations—in competition, rightly earning him the self-given nickname “quadg0d,” which he initially chose as the handle for his Instagram account, where he posts his gravity-defying feats.
And this likely isn’t the last time you’ll hear his name. Malinin is just a high schooler, meaning he still has a whole blossoming career ahead of him. In March, all eyes will be on him at the 2023 World Championships and he’ll more than likely be on the ice in Milan for the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Here’s what else you should know about our local skating champ:
He’s the son of Olympians.
Whether you chalk it up to nature or nature, Malinin’s the son of not one but two Russian-Uzbekistani figure skaters. His mother, Tatiana Malinina, finished 8th at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan, and his father, Roman Skorniakov, placed 19th in both the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics.
The two have been coaching Malinin—who took the masculine version of his mother’s surname due to its easier pronunciation—since he was around six years old. He is also coached by Rafael Arutyunyan, who counts Olympic champion Nathan Chen among his other students.
His parents hadn’t anticipated his skating career.
Before it became his training grounds, Reston’s SkateQuest facility was just an after-school hangout for Malinin. According to NBC Sports, his parents would have him hang out there after school while they finished coaching their students for the day, not anticipating that he’d take to the ice as much as he did.
“At the beginning, we didn’t take it seriously,” his mother told NBC. “We just took him to where we were working, and he was skating there.”
In a podcast with retired U.S. figure skater Polina Edmunds, Malinin echoed this same sentiment, saying his parents didn’t initially want him to skate competitively.
“My parents didn’t really want me to do skating, because they went through everything, like training, so I don’t think they wanted to really go through [it with] me. But once I stepped on the ice, I enjoyed it and started skating more and more.”
He’s a senior at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church.
A tad unusual for a world-class athlete, Malinin still attends a public high school rather than take classes online or be home schooled. “I think that it’s definitely helped me with my social life,” said Malinin to the California’s Orange County Register. According to the paper, his favorite class is physics—an appropriate subject for someone as well acquainted with the laws of motion as he.
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He skateboards and plays video games.
In between ice time at SkateQuest and classes at school, Malinin is pretty much your average teenager. He likes to skateboard. He plays video games. And he often rides his bike on the wooded trails by his parent’s house.
He’s also known to kick around a soccer ball now and then—but especially at competitions. It’s become a bit of a ritual, he told figure skating blog FS Gossips, to bring his “lucky soccer ball” along for warm-ups.
You might catch him at Five Guys or at Carrabba’s Italian Grill.
It’s not all salads and protein shakes for this aspiring Olympian. While he told Northern Virginia Magazine that he doesn’t eat out very often, when he does, he’s a fan of Five Guys and Carrabba’s Italian Grill—further proof that he’s pretty much your average teenager.
He narrowly missed being on the 2022 Olympic team in Beijing.
Despite placing second at last year’s U.S. Championships, Malinin didn’t make the 2022 Olympic team in Beijing and was instead named an alternate, largely due to the teenager’s limited experience at senior-level international competitions.
“It was a bit frustrating and like a bummer that I didn’t get picked, but you can’t really have that impact you,” Malinin had told Olympics.com. “You just have to focus on like the next big thing.”
That next big thing? Milan 2026.
He may attempt a quintuple (five rotation!) jump in the near future.
While Fabio Bianchetti, head of the International Skating Union’s singles and pairs technical committee, told NBC Sports that “the prospect of executing quintuple jumps seems remote,” Malinin has brought it up to press before and has discussed doing it with his coach.
“I was basically saying a five-revolution toe loop can be done,” his coach Rafael Arutunian told NBC. “He agreed and was smiling.”